As a negligent reader of the Atlantic magazine, I've finally gotten around to cracking the November issue, nobly celebrating the magazine's 150th anniversary. (Maybe too noble; that whole "The Future of the American Idea" theme really produced some snoozer essays. Looking at you, Nancy Pelosi, Joyce Carol Oates, Janet Napolitano and T.D. Jakes!)
But Michael Hirschorn's essay "Can celebrities survive the age of too much information?" is worth the newsstand price alone. In not too haughty terms, Hirschorn argues that everyone â stars and gawkers alike â are being desensitized by the overabundance, overexposure and over-consumption of all that is celebrity. But maybe the public has caught on to all this self-promotion, Hirschorn points out:
The public now is too sophisticated, too cynical, to take a face at face value. Madonna had thrown herself about publicly with great abandon, secure in the conviction that her every move â attending Kabbalah classes, adopting a Malawian child â would be accepted by her multigenerational fan base. But the digital era demands 100 percent authenticity, since inconsistencies between brand and reality can be easily parsed and exploited by legions of paparazzi and bloggers thrilled to take down someone who places herself upon a pedestal, who takes herself too seriously. Madonna is no more a hypocrite than the rest of us, but she is guilty of misreading the new culture â perhaps, in her book, a greater sin.
I fear it might be too late to find the issue on the newsstands â the December issue, featuring Andrew Sullivan on Barack Obama, is already out â but you can purchase stories on the Atlantic's website.