By Daniel van Voorhis –
The Jagged Word has its first scoop of the new year! We tracked down these, well, unflattering pictures of some of the hottest stars on the planet RIGHT NOW! Whether it is celebrities in their “not quite ready for summer” beach bods or an “A”-lister stopping at the local market in jeans and hoodie, we have, over the next few pages, discovered that some of these celebrities are JUST like us!
And they are also NOT LIKE US at all! Oh, the irony!
Each of the following pages will be a celebrity picture in an awkward pose with bad lighting made by men and women who make a living taking pictures of celebrities doing what they are neither paid to do nor are specifically good at (being normal people). Worse yet, these celebrities have publicists who sometimes tip off the paparazzi to take pictures of them when they are not in the best shape to prove they are just like you. And then they can fix themselves up nicely (with the help of personal trainers, private cooks and handlers, personal shoppers and bespoke clothing) to cement their not like you status. And all it takes it 24 click-throughs, stopping at ads and filling up your browser cookie cache to prompt more stories and ads to clog your feed in the future.
As you hopefully guessed, there are no things on this page to click through. And maybe you clicked here, knowing it would be an ironic headline, and are now waiting for me, your guide to culture and style to set everyone straight on the decency and proprietary of our use and abuse of the Internet.
But come on, you click on these things, and if it is not celebrities, it is something political or dietary or pseudo-newsworthy. And I am not judging you. Seriously. I am not a fan of some of the untoward practices in poplar media and various designs to get your web traffic, but I will let someone else do the handwringing over websites use of “click bait” and virtual shock and awe.
I want to suggest something about what we might consider worth our more full attention and might help cut out some of the external noise.
Let’s assume that some things are good.
I mean, really good. Something about which there are very few critics, like a symphony or a perfectly prepared rack of lamb, or HBO’s “The Wire”.
Let’s assume that some things are bad.
Not just subjectively bad (like my knee jerk vitriol for any Arcade Fire album after their debut) but objectively bad. Think of starving children or animal torture. Or on a smaller scale think of real accounts of violent bullying or salacious stories of coworkers made up to pass the time more quickly around the water cooler.
Without getting into moral arguments on the level of the philosophers, let’s just take for granted the goodness of somethings and the badness of others. And, let’s let it fly that most things are on some kind of scale between Hitler and baby panda bears and need to be understood relative to other things. Got it? Ok. Here’s the word:
You should like what is good and you should not like what is bad.
There it is. Every article I could, have, or will ever write on this site in one sentence. The problem is, it is not that easy to attach a grade to every piece of work or definitive judgement to every action.
Instead of sitting high upon Mount Pious and judging the work of an artist, website, author, genre, meme, style, etc., let’s try and figure out if it echoes more of the good or maybe more of the bad. Or maybe its place is so insignificantly small compared to other things, or it is so in the middle of good and bad that we would do better to ignore it all together, or praise something we find easier to find good or critique something we find bad.
We read spurious claims about the “real” intentions of a government spending bill or angry manifestos about the “real” motivations of the clergy. We are just as quick to put ourselves in the seat of judgement over a celebrity that has just split from their partner or entered rehab or tried an ill-advised comeback.
If something is looking like it might be bad and trending worse, AND if you have the wherewithal to look into it, read up, converse, and then warn the tribe, go for it. Just make sure that your zeal falls somewhere in the range on the scale of how bad this thing is. And same goes for the good. Get informed, read quietly, speak modestly and then feel free to praise the issue on the proper scale and in the proper place.
Take an issue. Consider a click through article on celebrity plastic surgery going wrong, or the definitive piece on the insidious nature of person X’s role in shaping our thought on subject Y. Consider a scathing piece on Ride Along 2 (a movie getting killed by the exact people it was not made for) or a tear jerking piece on rescue animals and the need to support one financially before the animals are sent to the glue factory.
Consider the following sketch of possible options with regards to the judgements we make:
I like it and it is good
I don’t like it, but I see that it is good
I don’t like it and think that it is bad
I hate it and it is bad
I don’t hate it, but I see that it is bad
I don’t hate it and think that it’s good.
Can you tell where my love of the music of Jim Steinman fits? What about my unfettered love of the Fast and the Furious series? What if we started to think about political, religious and social issues on this? What’s the last Facebook article you shared? Where did it fit on this scheme?
Are you suitably tied up in knots?
Are you still angry about something? Do you still have really strong opinions on things of (possibly) life and death significance? Do you want to argue about the true, good, beautiful and its opposites? Great! Let’s keep going. And if you want to take some time out from time to time to “see what your favorite childhood stars are into now”, go ahead… I kind of like those things, too. And I have no idea whether or not I am supposed to.
All the Best,
The Man About Town
Written while listening to “Who’s Serious” The London Philharmonic playing the Songs of the Who (1990)