What star do you pray to?
Last time, we noted, amidst a flood of troubling world events, America remains transfixed on the image of Tiger Woods, a representation of all they hold dear: the image of the American family.
The term, image, is best defined by the American historian, Daniel Boorstin, in his classic, The Image, A Guide to Pseudo-Events in America. Images form a pseudo-reality where contemporary Americans reside. Boorstin describes contemporary America as “the Graphic Age,” an age initiated by the invention of the telegraph, leading to the creation of a pseudo-reality, a world of made-up images reflected by celebrities (people known for being well-known) and pseudo-events (manufactured occurrences, e.g., press conferences, presidential debates, product launches, etc.). Celebrities and pseudo-events replace the traditional concepts of heroes (i.e., people known for doing great things) and history (events of actual significance). Boorstin’s construction of the celebrity as differentiated from the hero is useful:
The hero was distinguished by his achievement; the celebrity by his image or trademark. The hero created himself; the celebrity is created by the media. The hero was a big man; the celebrity is a big name. -from The Image, ch. 2
Out of celebrity is borne stardom, the zenith of human achievement, the realization of our wildest dreams as Americans:
The star is the ultimate American verification of Jean Jacques Rousseau’s Emile. His mere existence proves the perfectability of any man or woman. Oh wonderful pliability of human nature, in a society where anyone can become a celebrity! And where any celebrity … may become a star! -from The Image, ch. 4
Heroes were traditionally the object of our aspirations. By heroes’ actions, we model and measure our own aspirations. How do we know what to aspire to, in a pseudo-reality of celebrities and stars? The answer to this lies in the answer to another question: as Americans, what is it, that we do?
Nearly a century ago, when asked, “what is it, that we do,” we would answer that we were great manufacturers. Blessed with an abundance of natural resources, we made the most things for the best price. As our manufacturing waned, we held to the idea that we are at least great as technological innovators. But no one really believes that anymore. Especially not, given the hordes of marketing/business “professionals” that our institutions of “higher” learning have belched out. But we do know what it is, that we do best. It existed all through times we fancied ourselves manufacturers and technological innovators. What is it that we do? Why, we advertise.
That’s it! That’s what we do! Now, we can say, with supreme confidence, that we are the best at making people feel like they needed to buy things. In other words, we are the best at making and selling images. We are so good at this, we can make people buy things they never even thought they needed. Boorstin explains:
We read advertisements … to discover and enlarge our desires. We are always ready—even eager—to discover, from the announcement of a new product, what we have all along wanted without really knowing it. -from The Image, ch. 5
As Americans in the late twentieth century, till now, there is no greater truth of American existence than the notion: WE ARE WHAT WE BUY. No longer are Americans properly regarded as citizens, but rather, we are consumers. This is why political parties and brands have become synonymous. As consumers, we are nothing more than marketing demographics with advertising as the means to an end of capturing market share. Boorstin illustrates:
Advertising could not be understood as simply another form of salesmanship. It aimed at something new—the creation of consumption communities…. The primary argument of the salesman was personal and private: this hat is perfect for you (singular). His focus was on the individual; he succeeded when he cajoled, flattered, managed, and overwhelmed a particular buyer’s ego. The primary argument of the advertisement was public and general: This hat is perfect for you (plural). While the salesman persuaded the customer that the item was peculiarly suited to his unique needs, the advertisement persuaded groups of buyers that the item was well suited to the needs of all persons in the group. The advertisement succeeded when it discovered, defined, and persuaded a new community of consumers. -from Boorstin, The Americans: The Democratic Experience, ch. 16
Eureka! A new lowest common denominator is discovered! Now, let us bring the celebrity to market. The celebrity, and better yet, the star will allow us to personalize on the mass level.
By identifying ourselves in what we buy, we are no longer merely buying items for everyday living; no, instead, we are buying a little piece of a star. A star that will provide us with light so that we may achieve a transcendence that distracts us from our own reality.
For SoCons, Tiger Woods, the star, is the fantasy family man. He has it all. Talent. Riches. A beautiful wife. A beautiful family. In short, the ideal image: “the perfectability of any man or woman,” a true achievement and realization of the glory of the American Dream. The dream to which we all aspire and to which we all compare, even in our own little way. In this context, we feel the impact when this image is shattered.
Suddenly, the products sold by Tiger Woods are tainted. When you are rubbing a Gillette personal hygiene product on yourself, you are tainting yourself. Tiger’s sins are now yours.
Worse yet, his sins remind us of our own.
Women are reminded of their outrage toward adulterous men. He offends their idea of commitment. Not so much as they are offended by a cheating star (which would be okay, if he were cheating with them), but rather, their notion of the ideal family is offended by identifying with Tiger’s wife.
SoCon men are outraged because they are expected to be outraged by adulterous men They are conditioned to think that expressing such outrage keeps their women bound to them because this is what attracts “good” women (wrong on both counts). It is their primary means of distracting themselves from the reality of female hypergamy which regularly reveals itself in episodes of unpredictable mood-swings.
Once the image is shattered, there is only one way it can be reforged….in death.
Only in death, do stars realize their full potential: as a brand no longer tainted by human frailties. Deifying stars is a risky proposition due to the human propensity to fail. Take Michael Jackson, for all his flaws as a child molester, the world’s first recipient of a medical blackendectomy, and overall weirdo: his glorious image was reforged upon death. His sins, forgiven. He died for us. He died, so that we could feel good again when watching his videos and wearing apparel with his image.
So ask yourself: What star do you pray to?
Join us next time as we see stare straight into the vacuous reality of what SoCons use the perfect family image to distract themselves: female hypergamy.