David Shaw considers the role of celebrities in the anti-war movement and why the press takes them seriously. Here’s one idea:
Leo Braudy, a USC professor whose book “The Frenzy of Renown” examines the cult of celebrity, says the media pay attention to the political opinions of celebrities because “they’re outsized versions of regular human beings. It puts things in boldface and ups the ante.”
Regular human beings do not live in the limelight. That isn’t just a minor detail; that’s a very large difference in context. While I find the professor’s idea interesting, my knee-jerk reaction is to disagree (understanding that I should read his book before coming to some kind of a conclusion).
Here’s another idea:
Phil Bronstein, editor of the San Francisco Chronicle and, as the husband of actress Sharon Stone, no stranger to celebrity himself, says the answer is even simpler:
“We live in a celebrity culture. Just look at all the magazine covers. What we have here is a convergence of celebrities, politics and going to war. That amplifies everything.
“That doesn’t speak to our responsibility as journalists to filter that, to use our judgment on what’s really newsworthy,” Bronstein says, “and I’m not happy about that. But we are part of our culture, and we reflect it and respond to readers’ interests.”
He missed one little thing: The news media also help create the culture.