FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

On the Phenomenon of Celebrity Ego

by

It’s been said that the largest uncontained entity on earth is that mass of plastic garbage and debris (estimated to be the size of Texas) floating perilously in the Pacific ocean. Arguably, the second-largest uncontained entity could be Kanye West’s ego.

Not to pick on Kanye, but even if he was just spoofing us with his intention to run for U.S. president in 2020, his staggering sense of self-importance is going to provoke those with gentile sensibilities to ask, What the fuck happened to “modesty”?

Not that Kanye is alone in having an overinflated opinion of himself. Far from it. For one thing, let’s not forget that the man is prodigiously talented. And upon closer inspection, compared to what Steven Segal and Jesse Ventura have said about themselves, we might conclude that he comes off more as “absurdly conceited” than “nauseatingly egotistical.”

In an interview with the “London Sun” (4-12-00), Steven Seagal, an action-adventure screen actor, declared, “People the world over recognize me as a great spiritual leader.” Mind you, this is a former martial arts instructor and limousine chauffeur talking.

Even to those who admire his work (I liked him in “Under Siege” and “Hard to Kill,” not so much in “Machete”), that was a loathsome remark to be coming from a pampered, pony-tailed, second-echelon movie star. Indeed, the Pope and Dalai Lama (genuine “spiritual leaders”) wouldn’t have the balls to stand on their hind legs and spout something so nakedly self-aggrandizing.

Moving from Hollywood to politics, let’s consider Jesse (“The Body”) Ventura, the ex-Navy SEAL, ex-professional wrestler, and ex-governor of Minnesota. Like literally thousands of politicians before him, Governor Ventura had a tempestuous relationship with the media.

Accordingly, at the conclusion of his last official press conference, on the Friday prior to leaving office, Ventura said to the assembled group of reporters in his most menacing, Navy SEAL voice, “Beginning Monday [his first official day out of office], you will fear me.”

Aside from its rancid machismo and overweening sense of self-importance, Ventura’s remark was hilarious. Can we imagine another politician saying that? Can we imagine Jimmy Carter, in 1980, after losing to Ronald Reagan, telling the White House press corps that after January 20, they will “fear” him?

Politicians don’t talk that way. On the other hand, your average pol isn’t an ex-SEAL capable of beating the crap out of any reporter he’s likely to meet. After losing the California gubernatorial election, in 1962, Richard Nixon told the media they wouldn’t “have Nixon to kick around anymore.” Unlike Ventura’s pompous threat, Nixon’s final words were appropriately wimpy and self-pitying.

And then there’s all those stories about celebrity singers having stipulations in their contracts forbidding any of the little people (staffers, roadies, ushers, craftsmen, etc.) to “make eye-contact” prior to a concert. While we don’t know if it’s true or simply an urban legend, the two names you hear mentioned in that regard are Madonna and Barbra Streisand.

Insisting that no one make eye-contact seems wildly egotistical. We can all appreciate the need to prepare oneself for a big performance, and not have some star-struck stagehand pestering you for an autograph, but forbidding people to even look at you? That seems extreme.

As for objecting to Kanye West thinking he should be president, perhaps we should revisit that. Considering that in 2008 Sarah Palin believed she was qualified to be vice-president (and was able to convince John McCain of it), Kanye believing he’s qualified to be prez makes utter sense.

More articles by:

David Macaray is a playwright and author. His newest book is How To Win Friends and Avoid Sacred Cows.  He can be reached at dmacaray@gmail.com

Weekend Edition
February 23, 2018
Friday - Sunday
Richard D. Wolff
Capitalism as Obstacle to Equality and Democracy: the US Story
Paul Street
Where’s the Beef Stroganoff? Eight Sacrilegious Reflections on Russiagate
Jeffrey St. Clair
They Came, They Saw, They Tweeted
Andrew Levine
Their Meddlers and Ours
Charles Pierson
Nuclear Nonproliferation, American Style
Joseph Essertier
Why Japan’s Ultranationalists Hate the Olympic Truce
W. T. Whitney
US and Allies Look to Military Intervention in Venezuela
John Laforge
Maybe All Threats of Mass Destruction are “Mentally Deranged”
Matthew Stevenson
Why Vietnam Still Matters: an American Reckoning
David Rosen
For Some Reason, Being White Still Matters
Robert Fantina
Nikki Haley: the U.S. Embarrassment at the United Nations
Joyce Nelson
Why Mueller’s Indictments Are Hugely Important
Joshua Frank
Pearl Jam, Will You Help Stop Sen. Tester From Destroying Montana’s Public Lands?
Dana E. Abizaid
The Attack on Historical Perspective
Conn Hallinan
Immigration and the Italian Elections
George Ochenski
The Great Danger of Anthropocentricity
Pete Dolack
China Can’t Save Capitalism from Environmental Destruction
Joseph Natoli
Broken Lives
Manuel García, Jr.
Why Did Russia Vote For Trump?
Geoff Dutton
One Regime to Rule Them All
Torkil Lauesen – Gabriel Kuhn
Radical Theory and Academia: a Thorny Relationship
Wilfred Burchett
Vietnam Will Win: The Work of Persuasion
Thomas Klikauer
Umberto Eco and Germany’s New Fascism
George Burchett
La Folie Des Grandeurs
Howard Lisnoff
Minister of War
Eileen Appelbaum
Why Trump’s Plan Won’t Solve the Problems of America’s Crumbling Infrastructure
Ramzy Baroud
More Than a Fight over Couscous: Why the Palestinian Narrative Must Be Embraced
Jill Richardson
Mass Shootings Shouldn’t Be the Only Time We Talk About Mental Illness
Jessicah Pierre
Racism is Killing African American Mothers
Steve Horn
Wyoming Now Third State to Propose ALEC Bill Cracking Down on Pipeline Protests
David Griscom
When ‘Fake News’ is Good For Business
Barton Kunstler
Brainwashed Nation
Griffin Bird
I’m an Eagle Scout and I Don’t Want Pipelines in My Wilderness
Edward Curtin
The Coming Wars to End All Wars
Missy Comley Beattie
Message To New Activists
Jonah Raskin
Literary Hubbub in Sonoma: Novel about Mrs. Jack London Roils the Faithful
Binoy Kampmark
Frontiersman of the Internet: John Perry Barlow
Chelli Stanley
The Mirrors of Palestine
James McEnteer
How Brexit Won World War Two
Ralph Nader
Absorbing the Irresistible Consumer Reports Magazine
Cesar Chelala
A Word I Shouldn’t Use
Louis Proyect
Marx at the Movies
Osha Neumann
A White Guy Watches “The Black Panther”
Stephen Cooper
Rebel Talk with Nattali Rize: the Interview
David Yearsley
Market Music
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail