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Payne (former deputy editor of the Daily Telegraph) offers an erudite and vastly entertaining look at how the Western cultural obsession with and "shared human responses" to celebrity haven't really changed in the last few millennia. He finds analogies between the Trojan War and Nascar, St. Augustine's Confessions and Dollywood. Juxtaposing Britney Spears's shaving of her head with "tonsures of the past"--Anne-Josèphe Théroigne de Méricourt or Joan of Arc--and using Emile Durkheim to interpret her apparent irrational behavior reveals surprising conclusions: in that desperate moment, perhaps Spears was fumbling to communicate something to her ogling and voracious public. And here is the delightful paradox of Payne's thesis: in revisiting ancient sagas and modern sex tapes, analyzing Heath Ledger's death in the light of Goethe's Faust--he reveals more about us than any of our icons--past or present. He reveals our own prodigious appetite for erecting, cherishing, and destroying heroes, for casting out the deficient, for voyeurism as total knowledge and control. A charming, contrarian, and very witty look at how our stargazing can be "something that bonds us, and which expresses something about how our civilization works." (Nov.) (c)
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Payne does an excellent job of comparing our treatment of modern-day celebrities with the legends and myths of the past. Read morePublished on July 4, 2012 by Scandalous Sanity
I just don't really get why this book was written. It strikes me as the kind of thing that people who believe they're smart write in order to try to make other people think that... Read morePublished on June 2, 2012 by Nyghtewynd
This book wasn't that fun of a read but I can see the upside. There is an interesting (and snooze-inducing) collection of facts and there's lots of historic material to draw... Read morePublished on November 27, 2011 by Steve
The topic itself is intriguing; who doesn't like reading about the cult of celebrity? The problem with this book, however, is that author Tom Payne doesn't always do such a great... Read morePublished on September 28, 2011 by missed
This book was extremely frustrating to read. I consider myself to be quite well read, but I don't keep up with all of the day's movie stars, reality shows and celebrity foibles. Read morePublished on August 23, 2011 by Experienced seminar leader
This author manages to turn the seemingly shallow topic of our tabloid-obsessed culture into an elevated discussion about human nature. Read morePublished on August 4, 2011 by Hedera Femme
The author's thesis is this: the cult of celebrity isn't new.
From the heroes of the ancient world up to Britney and even Lady Gaga if the book had been published a year... Read more
I would give 3.5 stars if that was an option here. I'm no celebrity watcher: I get annoyed when shaved heads or clothing slips become top news items. Read morePublished on February 13, 2011 by Dame Droiture
We who live in the modern world tend to have an arrogant outlook on world history. The common fallacy that we engage in is to believe that somehow the way we perceive the concept... Read morePublished on January 30, 2011 by D. Roberts