Dear Michael Jackson,This is the first letter I’ve written to a dead person, though you’re still alive in a sense, aren’t you? There were always two Michael Jacksons: one, the flesh-and-blood mortal who succumbed 12 years ago; the other, a product of countless people’s imaginations, a creation freed of the constraints of time and space who will live forever.
What is it about some great artists that makes them want to be someone else? Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, the father of Sherlock Holmes, aspired to be a historical novelist like Leo Tolstoy or Fyodor Dostoyevsky, neglecting that he created some of the finest detective fiction of all time. François Truffaut was in awe of Alfred Hitchcock, even though many thought his own films as complex, mysterious and beguiling as Hitchcock’s. Marvin Gaye had his sights set on becoming another Frank Sinatra. At least that’s the inference we take from his biographer, David Ritz. In his book “Divided Soul,” Ritz quotes Gaye: “Everyone wanted to sell to whites ‘cause whites got the most money,” adding that, at Motown, his record label, “Our attitude was — give us some.”
It is inarguable that cuteness matters in campaigns focused on animal protection and conservation. Feeling a connection to a species engenders compassion and the desire to see its continuity, and even moves us to engage in programs focused on its survival. Although beauty is in the eye of the beholder, not all animals exhibit the same level of objective adorability. It is with this sentiment in mind that the World Animal Protection aptly framed its “Ugly Animals Need Love Too” campaign.
Big Tech and the devices and apps it produces consume the world’s collective attention in pursuit of profit. Tech giants need to find a better purpose if they are going to retain society’s permission to dominate our lives in the way they currently do. Society is distracted, our attention neurologically hijacked by a tsunami of weapons of mass distraction that focus our attention not on what we want but on what Big Tech wants us to want. For generations Z and Alpha, in particular, this is profoundly life-shaping.
Self-annihilation is a constituent part of many celebrity careers. While some actors or singers slide smoothly from one success to another, hardly pausing for the occasional misadventure, others are ruined, occasionally by others but much more usually by their own devices.
“The Elizabeth Taylor who’s famous, the one on film, really has no depth or meaning to me,” the Hollywood icon told Life magazine’s Richard Meryman in 1964. “She’s a totally superficial working thing, a commodity. I really don’t know what the ingredients of the image are exactly — just that it makes money.” At the time, Taylor was married to actor Richard Burton. Their romance was already a succès de scandale and would grow in into an epic of Homeric proportions, as would Taylor’s entire life.
By some weird fluke, I may be the most famous male pole dancer in the world this month. Not by any means the best, strongest or most graceful. Maybe the oldest and certainly the most unlikely. Being the opposite of a typical pole enthusiast gives me the perfect stage, in brief, to sing the objective scientific praises of one of the most unscientific, touchy-feely practices that people swear transforms their lives. I feel it is my mission to tell the secret story of how pole dancing (aka “pole”) works wonders on the human form.
“We all know what the British press can be like and it was destroying my mental health,” Prince Harry said in a recent interview for “The Late Late Show With James Corden.” Was he kidding? Destroying his mental health? How exactly? By expressing opinions on his behavior? Or deciding whether he has acted selflessly or not? Or speculating on his motives for relocating to California? Harry just keeps providing new raw material. Even in his most meaningless moments, he can offer an off-the-cuff remark that contrives to evoke the sympathy of some and the outrage of others.
As last year’s British Social Attitudes survey indicates, 66% approve of same-sex couples, meaning about a third do not. Our newest research suggests that, with 95% of fans saying they favor openly gay players, football crowds are more welcoming of gay people than the rest of the UK population. It may sound a counterintuitive argument, but it is based on the results of an online research project comprising the detailed accounts of 2,665 fans, the vast majority of whom are embarrassed that football is continually characterized as a homophobic environment that prohibits gay players from revealing their sexual identity — at least until their playing career is over.
With movie theaters closed all over the world due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Hollywood studios had little reason for celebration over the past year. In business for over a century, Universal Pictures (founded in 1912), Paramount (1912), Warner Bros. (1923), Walt Disney (1923) and Columbia Pictures (1924) now have an extra reason to be concerned. In 2020, China took over Hollywood’s crown as the world’s biggest movie market, with a revenue of $3.2 billion, 84% of which came from domestic sales.