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As confounding as some celebrities are to us thinking people (a relatively low percentage of the public, so we must stick together) creating celebrities is natural, it's something we do as a species. Research scientists have observed similar behavior in chimps – given the choice of two buttons, one that produces food, one that shows them a picture of their troup leader, they will opt for the celebrity photo more often than one would think. So it is no surprise that as "troup" animals, we have an unquenchable thirst for information about certain ones among us who have acheived notoriety. What is surprising, however, is the wide range of qualities that can propel one to this ordained status.
Politicians are a no-brainer. They are our troup leaders, so of course we want to know everything we can about them and keep up with their day-to-day doings. In a very real sense, our well being depends on their actions.
Sports figures are understandable, too. For the vast majority of our evolution, we required a decent set of physical skills to get by – there was no handicap parking nor electric can opener in the Bronze Age – so it is reasonable to be interested in someone with extraordinary talents in that arena.
Actors, artists, musicians, writers and performers of all kinds entertain us and we like being entertained, so that's a natural. Murderers capture celebrity because once again, their actions may affect our survival.
So where does Paris Hilton fit into this primitive mindscape of celebrity making? My guess is SEX, pure and simple.
As mammals, our sexual impulses and proclivities are geared toward what our ancient biological programming thinks will be helpful to the survival of the species. (I'm speaking very generally, here, not about fetishes or abnormalities or anything out of mathematically mainstream human sexuality.) In this area, men and women are different.
Females tend to favor things like wealth, power, strength, age, ability, because a mate with these qualities can take care of them and their offspring, and endow their spawn with those characteristics. Males are simpler. They favor youth and the physical ability to bear and care for children over a long period of time. Which is why they go for looks (good looks = youth in the primitive mind) over quality. (Studies have also shown that adult faces that most people find attractive are those with proportions most similar to a child's.)
It is no surprise that men are simpler and more primitive than women. That's why there are often female celebs that have no discernable talent other than being "hot," but this virtually never happens with male celebs. They usually have to pretend to be actors or singers or something before they capture a magazine cover or get on a talk show. Good looks alone just doesn't cut it for us dudes.
On another note, here is a cartoon from last week that I
didn't post because I was out of town, frozen, ill, and busy. It's an idea from my pal and occasional contributor, Derek. I like the simple premise: what do you say to a person heading onto stage who already has two broken legs?
More tomorrow, thanks for reading. Until then, I remain your faithful servant and imaginary playmate.