January 08, 2007

Politicized celebrities I heard on the radio today that Joan Baez turned 66. One of my colleagues has a poster on his door from John Lennon and Yoko Ono: war is over. I feel a gap left by these absence of such celebrity activists. What happened? These days, the msm--particularly on the right--enjoys ridiculing celebrity interventions in politics. Do they have a point? Did the appearance of celebrities in congressional hearings as advocates for causes they encountered as actors, playing roles, delegitimize their voices? Did they lose their credibility insofar as it seemed that they confused the lines from their scripts with actual knowledge about an issue? Or, were there too many celebrities getting involved, appearing on talk shows and talking quite inanely about issues about which they knew nothing? Or is it right-wing backlash eliminating a potential site of resistance? It isn't just ignorance though, is it. We might think of Bob Geldoff and Bono. They seem pretty well informed about the causes on behalf of which they organize. They even seem to get some kinds of results. But, it still seems that they lack a certain something that Joan Baez and Bob Dylan had--what is it? Is it that Baez and Dylan weren't co-opted? Or is it simply a matter of my gaze, how I see it, the point from which I'm looking, a point trapped in the pervasive enjoyment of communication capitalism wherein everyone is potentially a celebrity, wherein celebrity itself means less and less with each passing upload...

Jodi Dean

Jodi Dean is a political theorist.

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