“Fame confers authority, and the principal way of acquiring great fame is via the entertainment industry. Entertainers are the popes of our age, with de facto — though as yet not de jure — powers to call down anathemas on or beatify whomever they choose. [. . .]
“Celebrity is a source of moral authority, as if it were the case that no one could be famous who was not good. Celebrities also must be clever, for how could someone have ascended to great fame without some superiority of mind?
“One of the curious things about modern celebrities, however, is that although they should be glamorous and unapproachable in some way, they also should be completely banal at the same time (that was the great appeal of Princess Diana). Nothing could illustrate this better than the Web site of Rosie O’Donnell, the comedian, lesbian activist and recent chief attraction on ‘The View,’ who pronounces on so many subjects and whose utterances appear to be taken seriously by many.
“People e-mail her questions, to which she replies. Compared with the questions and answers on the site, the average barfly sounds like Socrates.”
Theodore Dalrymple, writing on “Pope Rosie? Pray for us,” May 20 in the Los Angeles Times
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