Celebrity Hubris
May 21, 2007

There are days (though few in number) when I am absolutely astounded with celebrities and the ignorance of their own inconsequentiality. Granted, we all like to inflate the importance of our own existence every now and then, no? The difference between the average person and those who hold a larger market share of media air time is consciousness. That is to say while the average person has enough sense to know when they have an inflated sense of their own fabulousness, certain celebrities do not.

A recent opinion column in the Los Angeles Times affirmed my long held suspicion. Theodore Dalrymple writes:

The cult of celebrity is not new, but it is increasing in its scope and effect. At one time, people wanted to simply gawp at the famous, and possibly dress like them. Now, many take their moral and political opinions from them.
Lord help us all if we are taking our moral and political cues from the likes of Angelina Jolie, Rosie O'Donnell, and dare I say, Robert Sylvester Kelly.

As though it weren't bad enough that Rose O'Donnell might be vying for a slot as the new host of "The Price Is Right," now R&B singer/pedophile, R. Kelly is comparing himself with Martin Luther King.

In a recent interview with Hip-Hop Soul Magazine, Kelly said,"I'm the Ali of today. I'm the Marvin Gaye of today. I'm the Bob Marley of today. I'm the Martin Luther King, or all the other greats that have come before us. And a lot of people are starting to realize that now."

Quite possibly cold hard evidence R. Kelly is smoking crack. To that end, he is possibly right in comparing himself to Bob Marley and Marvin Gaye. Kelly and his publicist have been back-peddling since the New York Post first ran the quote. Kelly's publicist has since clarified that Kelly was simply pointing out that he's a prolific songwriter of his time.

Generally speaking, writing and producing a lot of hit songs isn't exactly the qualification for joining the ranks of Martin Luther King. And if I recall correctly, Muhammad Ali (born Cassius Clay) was quite the outspoken activist during his reign as heavyweight champion. He was outspoken against the Vietnam War among many other things and despite my issues with the Nation of Islam and just about everything he stood for, at least the man stood for something. That is a heck of a lot more than Mr. Kelly can say.

What disturbs me more than anything is the fact that people (who deserve to be in jail) such as Kelly and others who shall remain nameless continue to feel comfortable talking up their own egos because there is little to no accountability. Instead, the masses still buy albums and bother interviewing him for the sake of selling magazines. To boot, so-called advancement organizations like the NAACP are idiotic enough to nominate the man for an image award while he was under indictment for charges related to child pornography. Way to go NAACP.

It is interesting to me how rarely we make the connection between talent and the need for character. It's as though a person's giftedness or talent somehow make them exempt from moral standards or accountability for their sphere of influence. If our culture is truly drawing opinions and moral conclusions from such characters, doling out moral byes is dangerous ground to be treading.

Perhaps it is accurately fitting that R. Kelly nicknamed himself the "Pied Piper of R&B." A little research on the history of the "Pied Piper of Hamelin" folklore reveals an ending that is terribly eerie:

"While the inhabitants were in church, he played his pipe again, this time attracting the children of Hamelin. One hundred and thirty boys and girls followed him out of the town, where they were lured into a cave and never seen again."
Oh my.

Posted by Ambra at May 21, 2007 2:17 AM in Culture
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1. Glad to read you again.

2. Ditto on R. Kelly. When I first heard him call himself "The Pied Piper," I wondered how many would catch that reference.

3. The NAACP Image Awards process was changed after that one. I think, prior to that, the award was based on popularity vote which was open to "industry" insiders.

Celebrities seem to fulfill some need we have to worship royalty.

Insightful post; glad you're back!

Ambra! You're back!

As uncomfortable as its...freewheeling expression...makes me, I love the animated "Boondocks", in that it provides an almost prophetic voice (prophetic in the sense of calling a culture back to a Standard). Their skewering of R. Kelly and his wacky urinary antics was spot on, as well as lampooning the whole enabling and adulating culture that cocoons him.

Pound cake, anyone?

I'm waiting for Kelly to play the Christ card, since he is being persecuted for his beliefs and actions.

Wait for it...cultural entropy demands it!

"Oh my" indeed. ;)

And to The Aardvark, it wouldn't surprise me in the least if Kelly played the "Christ card". I still remember when Kanye said he should've been in the Bible. :/

Glad to see your smiling face, and happy you are happy. I always have a soft spot for pretty girls with values.

Yay!!! You're back! :) I hope you bring back your "Caught in a Fashion Faux-Pas" posts... those are always so fun to read. :)

I like your blog!

Aw man, you missed your chance!
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Why I'm Not a Republican Parts I, II, III, IV
Reflections on the Ill-Read Society
The ROI of a Kid
The Double-Minded Haters
Hindsight
Hip-Hop in Education: Do You Wanna Revolution?
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Requisite Monthly Rant: the State of the Nation
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An Open Letter to American Idol
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