Friday, August 07, 2009

The Queen and the Commoner: the Dark Side of Prosopagnosia

Continuing with a confluence of themes: snobbery, cultural cringe, and charity-far-far-away-from-home.

How can the two possibly connect? Well, if we add vacuous Hollywood gossip, it's all suddenly right there. I don't ordinarily follow this, and even less grace it with commentary, but this here happens to 'connect', and, besides it's so revealing and just funny, on so many levels.

Prosopagnosia, in case you haven't looked it up already, is the inability to recognize faces, usually due to brain damage. Well, if this is the major cause, then maybe there is a large, completely undiagnosed, population of people with this kind of damage. They would appear to consist of people mainly employed by 'media'; which in turns seems to imply that either people with defective brains tend to drift into 'media' work, or else said work is hazardous to one's health in ways not yet sufficiently investigated by epidemiologists. My guess is that the two work hand in hand: mere 'predisposition' becomes fatal and permanent 'consequence'.

Wikipedia also notes that: Few successful therapies have so far been developed for affected people, although individuals often learn to use 'piecemeal' or 'feature by feature' recognition strategies. This may involve secondary clues such as clothing, hair color, body shape, and voice. Because the face seems to function as an important identifying feature in memory, it can also be difficult for people with this condition to keep track of information about people, and socialize normally with others.

Does this sound like a description of not only a lot of media folks, but also of the 'celebrity' crowd?

Anyway, back to Hollyweird. For those not following gossip rags or similar 'organs' for the promotion of irrelevant, often scurrilous and even more often manufactured, 'reports' about what goes on in the un-wonderful world of celebs: there are two actresses—sorry, that should be 'actors' in the dumb-ass PC vernacular of today—one of which is often described as a 'clone' of the other. For those not suffering from prosopagnosia, here are images of the two. I've picked a pair of images that has the minimum possible amount of 'secondary clues' to assist prosopagnostics with identification.

The one on the left is often being hailed—or reviled, depending on who's talking—as being the clone of the—or the 'new'—one on the right. The age difference between them is 11 years, which means the one on the right is panicking about her employability, especially since the one of the left is rumored to being considered for a role in an 'origin' story for a movie franchise character that the one on the right helped to define.

The one on the right is definitely the 'queen', while the one on the left is, definitely in the view of many who adore the one on the right, an upstart commoner. The one on the left has a loose mouth and is free with all sorts of opinions on everything, occasionally with offensive frankness. She also like so uses words like 'like' and 'so' and 'whatever', while the one on the right doesn't, not anymore anyway. The one on the left is the up-and-coming 'hottie' and pretty deeply into herself, while the one on the right has found her charitable side and adopts kids from far away and is into human rights and all the required 'reformed celebrity' mumpitz. Not unsurprisingly, she is quoted, when referring to the one on the left, by statements like “Is she aiding in Africa or sitting in on U.N. conferences? Donating herself to something bigger than Hollywood? I’m not familiar with her work, is she an Oscar contender?

Ouch! That's enough ammo to blast anyone in Hollyweird into charred shreds of their former selves!

Still, I seem to remember the time when the one on the right was flaunting a vial with the blood of her then-boyfriend, which she always wore around her neck... (I was referring to the vial; though I seem to recall that their public exhibitions of 'affection' were occasionally taken to bizarre extents.) Those events aren't that far back in the past; plus the things, all very public, that followed: adultery, marriage breakups, and then, of course, charity for the children of Africa! I've idly wondered what happened to the vials and their contents? Who owns the contents anyway? Was there an unpublicized legal dispute; or did I just miss it? How could I? Easily. Very easily.

I don't really give a crap about the merits of the claims to fame or whatever of either the commoner or the queen. Remember, this is all about snobbery, occasioned by whatever narcissistic sentiment I don't care. Snobbery based on status, of course—sure, that's true enough—but consider what the 'status' is based on. In both instances it is, of course, about being public (I really, really was tempted to drop that 'L' again and make it seem like a typo!) sex symbols and 'celebs'; though the one on the left is, of course, still usually referred to as a 'starlet' and the one on the right a 'star'. Acting capabilities are incidental. There are a gazillion better actors in the world than either of those two.

The rest of the status battle though comes down to the one on the right 'aiding Africa', and she and her celeb boyfriend are making damn sure, with the aid of the media, that everybody knows it. To claim, as she and the likes of her often do, that the publicity actually 'helps' the delf-styled mission they're on is disingenuous at best and self-serving hypocrisy at worst. And, going back to my last blog, the whole thing about helping the poor children in Africa while ignoring those at whatever 'home' is, that's based on a kind of reasoning that I for one just don't 'get'. To me it just sounds twisted. Maybe it makes more sense to you. I'd be interested to know how it possibly could.

Thing is, and this is the bottom line, that while it is very probably true that they're helping out kids who really need help, it is also true that for every child outside their own communities they're helping, they are not helping a child in need in their own community. How their own community can hold them up as examples to emulate and admire, appears ever more incomprehensible the more I think about it. How can their choices be interpreted as anything but, at best, indifference to, or, at worst, contempt for, their own community and its members?

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