A.S. Hamrah, film critic for blah-blah-ing lit journal N+1, is stuck at the glamorous Cannes Film Festival but it's not as glamorous as it was when it was new, and that makes him sad. "It's not just that celebrities are dull. More and more, there's also something about them that fills us with revulsion. It used to be that a celebrity sighting was cause for celebration. You'd phone the wife and kids: 'Hey, I just saw Robert Stack walking into the Automat!' Now it's more an occasion for jeering. Or, more accurately, a chance to feel a deep queasiness about what's happened to our culture. The celebrity is quickly becoming a harbinger of nausea, a delivery system for Weltschmerz, there to remind us that things, actually, are what they seem: pathetic."
Whenever I'm in Los Angeles, I experience this unease. I don't have a name for it. I go out to lunch and worry Sinbad's going to be sitting across from me. I wait in line at a hot dog stand and hope I don't spot Carmen Electra.
A celebrity sighting can really ruin your day. At night it's even worse. Not too long ago I was eating in a favourite restaurant when Mike Myers walked in with a large group I hesitate to call an entourage. As the loveable star of the Austin Powers movies sat down with his people, you could see on the faces of the other diners that their wine had just turned to vinegar. What's he doing here, their expressions said. What's he doing in this part of town? Why isn't he in his own area?
Increasingly, that's where we want them: away from us. The Bible suggests that the poor will always be with us. Today it's the rich who will always be with us. If they're famous on top of it, that makes their presence all the more galling, not to mention disruptive.
Whole neighbourhoods of our cities have turned into ghettos of the celebrated, and there's nowhere we can go to escape. They will always be with us. Who wants to live across the hall from the breakout star of Survivor: Guatemala? Riding the bus is bad enough without Ashton Kutcher taking the last seat. [TheNational]