RSS
Michael Jackson, Sarah Palin, and fame
Are we awash in evidence that celebrity is poison?

"The culture of celebrity giveth and the culture of celebrity taketh away," said Tim Rutten in the Los Angeles Times. "If you don't believe it, just look at Sarah Palin and Michael Jackson." Palin's political star rose when she became famous, only to crash under the "relentless scrutiny" that fame brings. And Jackson—pilloried by the media in life—"had all his unsavory controversies and off-putting personality traits washed away" by "the cloying sentimentality of the 24-hour news cycle, which has become one of the celebrity culture's great enablers."

At least the phony and overblown reaction to Michael Jackson's death didn't hurt anyone, said Gary Kamiya in Salon. Sarah Palin's "strange story" shows how dangerous the "utterly distorting power of fame in America" can be. "Carried too high, her wings melted off," and we saw how utterly unqualified she is to govern "in every tortured sentence of her rambling, illogical" announcement that she was resigning as Alaska's governor. Palin should be "ushered permanently offstage," but "in a culture of celebrity, the very theatricality of Palin's disgraceful resignation immediately becomes part of her résumé."

The ruthless media treatment that came with Sarah Palin's national prominence was not a gift, said John Fund in The Wall Street Journal. It was the very thing that forced Palin to resign. The special spotlight reserved for her made it clear that "her road forward in national politics would demand even more sacrifices and pain than exacted from most politicians," so who can blame her from "moving to another playing field where she has more control over the rules of the game"?

EDITORS' PICKS

THE WEEK'S AUDIOPHILE PODCASTS: LISTEN SMARTER

Subscribe to the Week