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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

    Do celebrities exist?

    Justyn DillinghamEditor-in-Chief
    Justyn Dillingham
    Editor-in-Chief

    I don’t know about you, but I wasn’t really surprised by last week’s news that Paris Hilton had been arrested on suspicion of drunk driving.

    In fact, the second I heard the story I was struck with an overwhelming sensation of dǸjÇÿ vu. Hadn’t this already happened? I could swear I’d even seen an article or two about it.

    Of course, I haven’t heard this exact story before. But all of us have heard a thousand variations on it. A celebrity is arrested for drunk driving, caught doing a barely illegal drug, heard using a racist slur or discovered trying to carry thousands of dollars worth of merchandise out of a ritzy L.A. store.

    The specifics differ, but the general story is always the same. After the celebrity’s slipup is made public, he or she either issues a tearful, heartfelt apology (the “”Mel Gibson”” approach) or a furious denial of the charges (the “”Winona Ryder”” approach). The details of the arrest are eagerly spilled across the Internet, complete with photocopied police documentation.

    Then the trial, then the verdict, then a brief period of absence from the spotlight. All celebrities must occasionally flee the spotlight, like a wizened old monk spending a month or two fasting in the desert to purify his soul.

    Then the comeback. Our celebrity, on the eve of his or her magnificent return to the public eye, gives an exclusive interview to a glossy magazine.

    Few of these celebrities actually suffer from their bouts with the law. In fact, most of them benefit from them. Any publicity is good publicity, after all.

    It’s as if some crafty puppet master has a string attached to the brains of everyone in Hollywood, and gives each one of them a yank every time one of them threatens to dip below the public consciousness. It plays out the same way every time. It’s too perfect.

    While perusing the evidence, I was suddenly overcome by a terrible suspicion. What if none of these people exist?

    After all, how many of you have ever seen Paris Hilton in the flesh? What about Tom Cruise, Nicole Richie or Anna Nicole Smith? And if you did, how would you know it was the same person you’d seen on television?

    What if these mildly engaging people and their dependably ludicrous antics are as fictional as the characters they play? What if these allegedly real actors are themselves played by actors (more than one, of course, as with Saddam Hussein and his tag-team of look-alikes), who put far more effort into portraying the likes of “”Lindsay Lohan”” than the Lindsay Lohan we know has ever put into any of her performances?

    The motive is certainly easy to understand. What if, some time in the mid-’80s, a small group of Hollywood executives decided to give up on looking for the next box office superstar and just start making them up? Wouldn’t it be a lot easier?

    It was only a brief thought, but it would certainly explain a lot. Not only why people richer than all the people reading this column put together still have so many bizarre issues, but why almost all of these celebrity disaster stories read the same.

    It even explains why Cruise was recently let go by his studio. The trouble stemmed from creative differences: Some of Cruise’s writers wanted him to start knocking on random doors to ask for money for his church, while others wanted him to undergo a profound spiritual conversion and spend the next year meditating in Tibet.

    But, you may argue, wouldn’t we soon see through the faÇõade? I doubt it. Most of these people have one thing in common: They’re famous for reasons that most of us have long forgotten, and they pop up in the news every three months because they’re famous.

    That’s right: They’re famous because they’re important, and they’re important because they’re famous. And they’re famous because they’re famous.

    If it were revealed that it were all a big charade, what would we do? Would we turn our backs on the whole business? Would we rise up against our celebrity oppressors and set fire to the movie studios? Would Hollywood as we know it come to an end?

    I suspect we’d be shocked for about a week, and then we’d go back to normal. We’ve been paying attention to celebrities for too long to do anything else. If they didn’t exist, we’d have to make them up.

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