Celebrities who worked to earn their fame.

Simon Doonan writes in Slate lamenting peoples’ fascination with celebrities who have accomplished nothing. It is an old complaint by now, but still a valid one.

In a lot of ways, I think the interest in celebrities goes back to the days of the aristocracy, when people would be interested in the social goings-on in the upper-classes. We have no aristocracy proper in America, so we use the next best thing.

Doonan mentions how there are no revered philosophers. I guess that’s true, but I will say that the late, great Christopher Hitchens was basically a celebrity intellectual. Maybe you didn’t see his picture on the gossip papers at the supermarket, but he was pretty widely known.

Famous scientists? Well, there’s Stephen Hawking, though I guess he might be famous more for his overcoming adversity than for his actual scientific work.

Actually, come to think of it, both those guys are British. And hey, the British have an aristocracy, too! Dammit, who won that Revolution, anyway?


  1. Hi. That was controversial to say about Stephen Hawking – I’m not sure about that one! But this was thought provoking, liked it 🙂
    btw, this is from VodkaWasMyMuse.wordpress.com – not wordsfallfrommyeyes – I just don’t know how to use my second blog avatar!

    1. Maybe you’re right. I guess what I was trying to say was that people admire Hawking for going on to accomplish stuff despite his illness. I mean, I admire his work on the theoretical properties of Black holes, but I can’t really *understand* it except in the simplest of terms.

      1. Oh, could be right or not, Mysterious. Not sure. He just struck me as genius housed in a disability. But I do think most definitely he would be noticed for his disability, given the ear (in the beginning) & then after that, his work spoke for itself louder than his disability. I say ‘genius’ because that’s the IMPRESSION I have of him – from your comment you seem to know more whether or not he is such. I don’t know his work on the theoretical properties of Black holes! so I don’t know really what to regard him as. But I liked your piece. I like WP because it’s thought provoking – you click on things for their title at first, & this one had me read it through. Cheers.

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