Read this brilliant and humorous chapter from Chris Hedges’ new book and marvel as the Pulitzer Prize-winning war correspondent makes sense of reality television.
Adapted from “Empire of Illusion: The End of Literacy and the Triumph of Spectacle,” available from Nation Books, a member of the Perseus Books Group. Copyright © 2009.
Celebrity worship banishes reality. And this adulation is pervasive. It is dressed up in the language of the Christian Right, which builds around its leaders, people like Pat Robertson or Joel Olsteen, the aura of stardom, fame and celebrity power. These Christian celebrities travel in private jets and limousines. They are surrounded by retinues of bodyguards, have television programs where they cultivate the same false intimacy with the audience, and, like all successful celebrities, amass personal fortunes. The frenzy around political messiahs, or the devotion of millions of women to Oprah Winfrey, is all part of the yearning to see ourselves in those we worship. We seek to be like them. We seek to make them like us. If Jesus and The Purpose Driven Life won’t make us a celebrity, then Tony Robbins or positive psychologists or reality television will. We are waiting for our cue to walk onstage and be admired and envied, to become known and celebrated.
Copyright © 2009 Truthdig