Celebritarianism

Four things happened this weekend: 1. I returned on Saturday from a week as the Sr. Boys’ counselor at Camp Met Winnipeg; 2. Mayweather vs. MacGregor; 3. Ronda Rousey got married; 4. internet garbage directed at MacGregor after the fight.

I’ve never seen Floyd box, nor did I care to as I’m not a fan of boxing. Nor am I a fan of Connor; however wasting time on the internet just now and seeing it all made me think it was appropriate to bring over this piece I wrote on November 21st, 2015, with just some slight editing.

they love you when you’re on all the covers
when you’re not then they love another…

This blog entry was supposed to start with Britney Spears, but as the whole world knows–as is clearly evident by social media and what is ‘trending‘—Ronda Rousey got KO’d (or KTFO, to be more accurate) last Saturday in the main event of UFC 193, hence we have a new Women’s Bantamweight Champion in Holy Holm .

A number of memes immediately found all over the internet were extremely harsh on Ronda. She hasn’t exactly made it difficult to not-like her, with her attitude and demeanor, as well as her tantrum at the UFC 193 weigh-ins and her follow-up of that with more garbage on Instagram; but with the public’s reaction to all this, just as with Britney Spears who I’ll get to below, we have clear examples of Celebritarianism, or at least lesser versions—’saints’ in the making…or might it be martyrs? Let us hope not.

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Behold, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world!
-St. John 1:29b (RSV)

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There is a love in North America of celebrity—especially celebrity failure, especially if mixed with sex, drugs, religion, or violence (see opening paragraph)…and even more if the celebrity is female: it’s socially accepted and shared torture-porn. Over the decades that I have been in existence, as North Americans have become less and less (heterodox) Christian and more and more secular, their religiosity has never waned. Rather, it has found new expression: Celebritarianism, a denomination of Protestantism in which celebrities replace Christ and the saints. Where they are crucified upon TV and the Internet; and we have our phones in our pockets, our tablets, and chargers in our backpacks replacing prayer books, Bibles, rosaries, and chotkis.

This “new religion” of the masses has been brilliantly recognized, understood, and reflected back at us most poignantly as art in Marilyn Manson’s Triptych. And our modern-day, real-life denomination of Celebritarianism is even more grotesque in its perversion of true Christianity. Because now—in a world of 140 letter character blurbs and micro-attention spans, a society where every moment is photographed and every sex act digitally recorded—not only in death are the saints/celebrities glorified, but also now how much they publicly suffer determines their worth for us.

There is a Nietzschean element here, obviously. First, with Manson’s use of art (those who read Nietzsche know the role art played in his philosophy (and in Manson’s too)). Secondly, with the Death of God in North American society we are finally free; but upon our realization of such freedom, we feel the oppression of responsibility for one’s own actions. And under such a weight, we cave and act as though we had in fact never committed deicide: what we piously publicly confess and what we reveal of our beliefs through our public behavior are mutually exclusive. So with one God dead, we’ve put others in His place.

This societal vampiric lust for celebrity and celebutante fall and failure has been seen many times throughout the career of the pop-artist(?) Britney Spears and her engagement with our society: American, blonde, sexy, young, and publicly virginal (see the last two lines of the above paragraph).

I used to never like Britney Spears, not that I ever had a legitimate emotion about her either way, but I must confess there are two songs I like, two songs which I always felt captured the darkness at the heart of such a publicly crafted and scrutinized life…

Watch this and this, the latter of which was beautifully used in Springbreakers.

At the end of the day, I wish nothing but the best for Britney, and I hope that Ronda learns from her loss, but as the artist Marilyn Manson himself knows all too well, it’s a long hard road, out of hell.

You have made your way from worm to man, and much in you is still worm. Once you were apes, and even now, too, man is more ape than any ape…
-Nietzsche, Thus Spoke Zarathustra

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