Friday, 28 August 2009

Ryan Alexander Jenkins and the Culture of Celebrity

A constant state of celebrity exists within human society. We exalt those amongst us into kings, god-kings, 'God's representative'. This is the nature of hierarchical beings.

This 21st century version was born through a TV camera lens on the Real World in America and Big Brother in Britain. It is celebrity of the gormless, the witless, the talentless: Paris Hilton1, Jade Goody2, Jordan3, Octopussy4, Jodie Marsh5, Jon & Kate6 et cetera. This is the celebrity Ryan Jenkins desperately wanted to be a part of.

Television conceived it. The internet nursed it. The press validated it. Vh1 christened it.

In the UK we have Celebrity Big Brother. Alumni include Jermaine Jackson, La Toya Jackson, Verne Troyer. Vh1 had The Surreal Life (alumni include Verne Troyer) – which morphed into Strange Love which begat Flavor of Love (FoL). 3 years later the 15th show down the FoL line was Megan Wants a Millionaire. Finally Ryan Jenkins was on TV. He was on guaranteed hit TV.

Celebreality is inclusive in its avarice. Vh1’s franchise brand name – Flavor Flav – was convicted of illegal weapon charges in 19957. Brittanya O’Campo was awaiting trial whilst filming Rock of Love Bus and Charm School 38. If known criminals can be accepted then unknown criminality can infiltrate: Saaphyri Windsor was a fugitive while on Flavor of Love 2, Charm School and I Love Money 29.

Ryan Jenkins was a convicted wife-beater.10

A lot of people want to be rich. A lot of people want to be famous. It’s all about status. Who would you rather attend your birthday party - Brad Pitt or Bill Gates?

Sports, arts and entertainment will always be the default. However society has elevated celebrity above and beyond politics, diplomacy, military, industry, royalty, religion and science. Donald Trump did not need to go on television to hire an apprentice. Neither did Sir Alan Sugar11 nor the dragons in their den12. General Sir Mike Jackson13 is constantly popping up on television. The worthy want what the unworthy – Jade Goody, Jordan, Jodie Marsh – have.

It’s a valid occupation. It got Kate Gosselin14 a spot on The View. It got Katie Price national respectability. It got Octopussymum a free ride. There is no admission charge. It is a carousal of ego where have-nots pursue the wealth and respectability of the successful and where the haves covet the status and exposure of TV reality. It is fertile ground for the uninhibited.

The skin chicks. Strippers, porno starlets, Page 3 girls/topless/nude/glamour models. Frenchie, Raven, Brandy C, Brandi M, Brittany Star, Daisy de la Hoya, Anna Nicole Smith, Jodie Marsh, Jasmine Fiore.

These are murky waters. When the body is infected with trash – Kato Kaelin15 – it becomes a beacon for more – Ryan Jenkins. Celebrity used to be self-governing; you had to bring something to the club – Elvis, Michael Jordan, Tom Cruise. The absence of which now celebrates Dog the Bounty Hunter16.

Pop Will Eat Itself17 was a UK band formed in the 80s. Thanks to celebreality (American Idol, X-Factor) their prophecy has come true. Capitalism will eat itself. It did so last year but it’s not done yet. Celebrity will eat itself but before that it will devour the young18.

Celebrity as entertainment cannot be quantified. It is pastime for the masses. Celebrity as occupation is a cesspit of iniquity. Michael Jackson’s fate is yet to be legally determined19. Jasmine Fiore’s fate will remain conjecture.

Ryan Alexander Jenkins wasn’t a victim. He was a participant. Celebrity didn’t kill him. His lust for it did.

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