I’ve long been fascinated by the role that celebrity worship (yes, I think that’s an accurate term) plays in the narrative management that keeps a greedy 1% in power hogging our common resources.
The death of Prince Philip at age 99 is a good occasion to reflect on this psychological weapon of the rich against the working classes.
An aristocratic parasite whose brother-in-laws were literal Nazis, nasty and mean by reputation, Philip will ironically be mostly remembered on this side of the pond as portrayed by an actor in the Netflix series “The Crown.” You know: younger, handsomer, and a boon companion of the plucky queen. Loving father (hard to type that with a straight face), etc.
This sort of thing — the inexplicable fascination ordinary humans have for individual members of the elites that are crushing the life out of them — has been going on since at least Shakespeare’s time. Recall if you will the opening scene of Julius Caesar where two patricians admonish the rabble for being out in the streets in their best i.e. not work clothes. Eager to see the triumphant Caesar parade by, Shakespeare’s plebians are indifferent to advice that Caesar recently killed rival general Pompey.
So a Renaissance playwright projected his own generation’s fascination with the cult of personality onto Roman citizens on the verge of imperial decay.
Propaganda has become much more sophisticated in our day. While ancient Assyrian warrior princes commissioned their own accolades (cuneiform message for the literate extols the fertilizing powers of King Ashurnasirpal)
the royal family in Windsor Castle has the BBC and Netflix to do this for them.
The imperial presidency in the U.S., upstart branch of the brutal colonial projects launched from England’s shores centuries ago, has its own faux populist stories told by experts.
Thus we see a lot of attention paid to the pets brought to the White House by various CEOs of USA, Inc.
The propaganda effort starts early. Note the link in my last paragraph to National Geographic for Kids.
If you doubt it, check out corporate publications like Time for Kids.
I had a taste of the cult of celebrity when I ran against Susan Collins for her seat in the U.S. Senate last year. Based on my experiences, I’d say a lot of projection is involved. People are eager to support a personification of their values in part because (they think) it relieves them of the responsibility for fixing the mess of late stage capitalism that we find ourselves in. Months later, I am still receiving effusive notes of thanks for my attempt to crack the corporate duopoly’s stranglehold on Congress.
You’re welcome, but the real point is: