The public anticipation over the possible Heidi Montag sex tape got me to thinking about how fame is acquired in recent years.
It used to be that the spotlight was garnered from doing something monumental. One could become known for scientific discoveries, political clout, or academy award nominations. There were those who attained notoriety for the most extreme in human wretchedness as well ; the peculiar circus that followed Leopold and Loeb would be an example. Back in the day, there was a reason (or multitude of them) why an individual may grace the cover of the New York Post.
Today, however is a different time. We live in the age of instant celebrity. It is fast and fleeting and often undeserved. Like a Max Headroom plotline, fame can indeed be bought and sold. All one has to do is come from the right family and attend the right nightclubs, and he or she can indeed become a star, even if only for a nanosecond. The ultimate fame-maker amongst young women nowadays seems to be the sex tape. Once a marker of shady character, the display of one's sexual acrobatics has become a stepping stone to stardom.
The wealthy have always been creatures of intrigue. Names like Rothschild and Getty were known amongst common folk, their tales of fortunes won giving the average person something to aim for. The superior genius displayed by Einstein and Curie were celebrated curiosities. There was a sense of entitlement to be sure, but behaving truly awfully could destroy public image and a career forever.
Our modern society now celebrates fame, but seems to have no concern for how it is acquired. The intellectual celebrity is fast becoming a thing of the past, with talented writers replaced by filthy gossips and innovative scientists with experiments in human decrepitude. Instead of admiring the exquisiteness of the debutante's mannerisms, we jealously pursue the inner workings of her reproductive parts.