Tuesday, October 18, 2005

Your 15 Minutes Are Up!

Clever cultural promoters have always been able to seize the moment to make a buck. They spot a fad and jump on it before it fades like a vapor trail. Then they exploit it, make as much cash as they can and look for the next one. Hoola Hoops, Pet Rocks, Cabage Patch Kids came and went so quickly they can each be identified with a specific time period.

Pop Idols can be created much the same way. In the 50's it was Pat Boone, The 60's had The Monkees, The 70's- The Osmonds, Partridge Family & Leif Garrett. In the 80's it was New Kids On The Block, Debbie Gibson and Tiffany. NSYNC, Backstreet Boys and Britney Spears were 90's versions of this same formula. These were more calculated marketing devices than artistic, creative collaborations.

It seems as technology advances, the speed and number of media offerings increases and further accelerates this cycle of pseudo-celebrity creation. Andy Warhol was right about fame becoming commonplace. And in this ever quickening spiral, Ashlee Simpson now gets her 15 minutes.

Let's face it, without the clout of having a superstar sister, Ashlee Simpson wouldn't make it through the first round of American Idol, let alone land a recording deal and her own TV show. Don't get me wrong, I aint here to hate, just tell it like it is.

There are thousands of better singers out there who may never get the big break. But as America grows ever more fascinated by celebrity without substance, it's more about who you are related to or what scandal you've perpetrated. Tonya Harding was able to turn felony assault into a career of lucrative interviews, book sales and personal appearances. But at least there was a compelling story there.

I have to admit to being fascinated by something I don't understand- why anyone outside of her family would care what Ashlee Simpson does. But admittedly there are quite a few who do. It's those people and why they are interested that is the real attraction here. And how much Ashlee may actually buy into the hype that she is any more talented than your average karaoke performer.

In the end, Ashlee's pop career will be but a small blip on the radar screen of music history. However, the mindset of those who choose to make marginally talented people into cultural idols will forever be a source of amazement.

Fast buck promoters can only offer the product/performer. Someone has to actually buy it to make it a success. And right now, they're buying Ashlee Simpson. The increasing propulsion of the minimally talented into the cultural spotlight is a true phenomenon of our times.

- DJ Craig