Friday, December 14, 2007

Modern Sell- Ebb- Bratty

The era of Modern celebrity agueably began with T.E. Lawrence, the Geezer known as Lawrence of Arabia.
WW1 was an ugly unglamourous and unheroic war. It largely involved thousands of men charging over mud and barbed wire into the brutal maul of machine guns. It was faceless and horrific and unwinnable.
Enter our Lawrence famously played by Peter O'Toole in the movie.( A man so good looking Noel Coward quipped it should be called Florence of Arabia).
Lawrence was a man of substance, an archaeologist already fluent in Arabic language and customs. His story was appealing, heroic and he was extensively filmed and photographed.
He got close ups.
It is impossible for us to imagine the effect of seeing someones face 4 metres high on the big screen for the first time.
Imagine a genuine hero, a man who led the Bedouin across the uncrossable desert into Akabar, imagine studying his face, a tactical genius, who achieved the unthinkable ,looking up and staring into his 1000 yard stare.
Coz in real life the only people you are legally allowed to stare at close up are lovers or maybe your children and even then it's not often advisable.
If photography captures our soul then film magnifies and distills it.
Andy Warhol used this to some effect in his film portraits.
He filmed a close up portrait for 15 mins.
Warhol explored modern celebrity and mass production of images.
He coined the term superstar and first applied it to Edie Sedgwick, the first modern celebrity. Edie, as beautiful as she was, was famous for nothing really.
Couldnt really act or sing, wasn't even really a model.
She crashed and burned in true celebrity style.
Check out her story in Factory Girl.
Guy Pierce is awesome as Warhol too.
So in the 20th century we went from a people of substance to a people of no substance.
We celebrate their lack of substance, fame achieved by sunglasses, porno romps or turkeyslaps.
Their only achievement the random recognition of their face at the supermarket.
We bask in their vainglorious nothingness.
Hey everyone-Hooray for nothing!

No comments: