Wednesday readers were shocked — shocked — to see Julia Allison talk about her life on the very site that through lurid coverage had transformed the columnist-pundit from someone no one knows about to someone Gawker readers know about. She's our symbol of the loathsome self-promoter, apparently because no one in New York realizes that her exhibitionist habits are perfectly normal.
Now if you disagree, let me defend my first assumption by saying my editor told me to write this. And let's get the first example of self-exposure out of the way: All the Gawker Media writers. We've had that idea shoved down our brains, we all know bloggers love themselves. But beyond that, the world outside the NYC creative elite is full of self-exposers.
Take, for example, Tila Tequila. On her own, a freak of nature who landed her own MTV reality show because she's "MySpace famous" and she's the simulacrum of sex. But Tila (whose career actually started when she posed for Playboy) is just a prettier version of an entire generation of trailer trash putting their entire lives online. Again, I thought this was blisteringly obvious, but people's horror at a little self-exposure suggests otherwise.
People in the sticks have been gushing about their personal lives online for years. Myspace is made of normal people being attention whores. Random examples I just dug up: this kid, this kid, and these twelve pages of freaks mocked by the site Something Awful.
YouTube is worse. (Again, Something Awful sums it up.) The site churns through attention-whoring and personal self-exposure like a pig through gristle, destroying people's lives until they realize, hey, everyone will forget about this next week, might as well sell the clip to Geico before I drift into oblivion.
You know all the above; you might not have seen the smaller but thriving world of live streaming video on Stickam. And Justin.tv and Ustream and BlogTV and Operator11, where teens and the occasional desperate adult talk about their lives as they happen, making for the most thrillingly dull footage known to man, as well as a reliable wanksource.
Compared to all the above, Julia Allison with her relationship weblog is a princess of privacy. Jakob Lodwick is just another opinionated blogger who happens to be the ousted founder of a startup. (Oh wow! He's a libertarian! So are half the young middle-class males online!) Patrick Moberg and his "NY Girl of My Dreams" is just a glorified Craigslist Missed Connection, with a twist appealing to a morning show.
To pretend this young New York crowd are the most egregious fame-seekers is to ignore the rest of the country. None of their fameballs have rolled as big as Tila Tequila, and not even Moberg stayed in the public eye as long as Justin Kan (of Justin.tv) in San Francisco, Chris "Leave Britney Alone" Crocker in Tennessee, "Chocolate Rain" singer Tay Zonday in Minneapolis, or Miss Teen South Carolina.
By the way, it's not all vomitous; if it weren't for the free-for-all of the Internet, no one would have heard the advice of Ms. Tionna Smalls. Tay Zonday is, well, kind of a good singer. Andy Samberg might some day make a movie as good as his early online work at The Lonely Island. And that's why fameballs are the future.