Our movie tickets buy more than 2 hours in front of a screen

Movie, television, and music celebrities are hounded relentlessly. Photographers follow them to the beach, supermarket, even while they’re driving. Fans stalk them and demand autographs on the street, in airports, while attending a sporting event, anywhere. Tabloids publish the private details of their lives. Celebrities are people, too. Shouldn’t we leave them their dignity and respect their privacy?

No. Normally when someone provides a service, they only provide it to a limited number of people and limited geographic area. They are accountable to their clients, whom can question the quality of their product, ask for support, repairs, follow-up, etc. Seems rather obvious that if you profit from a client, you and your product or service are accountable to him. For tangible products, this normally takes the form of a warranty and help desk.

These celebrities have tapped into a remarkable new medium in which the law of diminishing returns does not apply. Other industries are limited in their ability to profit from a large population because as they invest more capital to reach more people, profits do not increase proportionally. In the music, television, and movie industries, not only does diminishing returns not apply, returns are actually increasing. After the initial investment to produce the song or movie, an infinite number of duplicates of it can be created virtually for free and distributed the world over.

Celebrities have concocted a new market not governed by traditional economic laws in which they can take money from people across the planet without ever seeing them and having no accountability. They are swindlers of epic proportions of which no industry or business has ever fathomed could exist. Take my money and you will sign an autograph and pose for a photo. Take the money of millions of people and live like a king off their dollar and be ready to sign millions of autographs and pose for millions of photos.

4 thoughts on “Our movie tickets buy more than 2 hours in front of a screen

  1. I think of celebrity types as “show people”, like show dogs or cats – purpose-bred, existing in their own little hermetically-sealed bubbles, needing extraordinary measures to maintain their nonsustainable and artificial lifestyles, admired by certain sections of the populace, but ultimately having little or nothing to do with everyday life beyond image.

  2. I tend to take the opposite view and try to integrate everyone into more imaginable roles. For example, a bus driver is a friend giving me a ride somewhere or a restaurant is someone serving me dinner at their home. So celebrities are some people I pay to entertain me. It really brings the world together and takes away the commodity fetishism to think like this. My life is almost entirely normal social interaction with normal people. Both Marx and the Unabomer would argue that the abstraction from social relationships you describe is responsible for our feelings of powerlessness and discontentment.

  3. Interesting – I think I do manage to humanise people I meet in person, but not those who are only pictures on paper or on a screen. From sociobiology we learn that people’s brains are pretty much wired to deal with maybe 100 people as individuals – the average size of a tribe. People outside that “monkeysphere” tend to be less real. I don’t think we’ve evolved sufficiently as a species to cope with more than that as a general rule. It’s certainly admirable that you can do that, but I suspect it’s an unusual ability.

  4. I’m not suggesting it comes naturally or is easy, simply that I make an effort. One hundred is a lot of people considering I only have half a dozen real friends. Even then, the limit is something to be worked around, not given into. One could use the same mechanisms as racism to lump all waiters or all bus drivers into one person. It’s not optimal and doesn’t offer them their full human dignity, but it’s better than leaving them out completely as disembodied elements of the economy.

    I would actually suggest my abilities are below average, considering Internet people aren’t real to me. If you want to give someone credit, how about those people who can invest their emotions into typed text, fully understanding there’s a real person behind it? That always struck me as remarkable.

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