Blog Category: Culture

Celebrity Binary Code

1:47 PM

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I’ve been thinking a lot about the increasingly ephemeral/unstable nature of celebrity. That’s not a new concept, clearly, but what if that instability could be expressed in terms of the baseline of digital technology: binary code? Which brings me to my rather unscientific theory: the proliferation of celebrity media has reduced the many gradations of fame to just two: you’re either a 1 or a 0; relevant or irrelevant. Being a 0 doesn’t mean that you’ve been forgotten, just that, at the moment the measurement—or judgment—is made, you hold no value for the celebrity media machine. And that means that the qualitative judgments that you or I may make regarding an actor or a singer/songwriter, no longer apply.

Daniel Day-Lewis may be the finest actor of our generation, but, right now, almost a year after the release of There Will Be Blood, he qualifies as a 0 on the binary scale of celebrity because his name is not attached to any projects currently being flogged by the celebrity press. (Day-Lewis’ reluctance to do interviews really has nothing to do with it.) Paris Hilton was a 1 for a long time because she made a porn movie and dated a couple of Greek shipping heirs. A few weeks ago, she was a 1 because of her response to John McCain’s Obama attack ad. But, shortly before this little PR moment, she had been a zero for a long time.

So, here’s the most controversial part of my theory: 1 = 1. In other words, if, at the same time that Daniel Day-Lewis’s next movie is released, news breaks that Paris Hilton was involved in a threesome with John Edwards and Rielle Hunter that was captured by Hunter’s video camera, then all four will be 1’s again, even though, on so many levels, there’s simply no comparison.



articles from Vanity Fair by Frank DiGiacomo

The Game Has Changed
March 2008

John Mellencamp: One from the Heartland
February 2007

The Esquire Decade
January 2007

The Gossip Behind the Gossip
December 2004

articles from The New York Observer by Frank DiGiacomo

Puff Daddy’s Black and White Ball ’98
December 3, 2006

The Bling of Comedy
February 8, 2004

Baldwin Aroused
November 30, 2003

Triumph Sniffs a Hit
October 19, 2003

Jack Carter Smothers Brothers at Rip-Roaring Friars Roast
October 12, 2003

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