PopMatters is moving to WordPress. We will publish a few essays daily while we develop the new site. We hope the beta will be up sometime late next week.
Featured: Top of Home Page

Archeological Discovery!

Image from Axes and Alleys.com

The cause of the Cataclysm revealed? Experts discover new tell-tale artifacts, recalibrate their analysis of American celebrity from the Year 2449.

The Command Center of the World Unified Government of Earth. The Year 2449…

"Sir, we have received the data feed from the Cultural Temporal Analyzer."

"Excellent! Be seated. What have we found?"

"Well, sir, as you know, we had some difficulty navigating the time-space anomalies of the early 21st century…"

"So you managed to punch through? This is data from before the Cataclysm?"

"That's correct, sir. This data comes from the year 2007, principally concerning the society and culture of a nation-state called 'America.'"

"America! Fantastic! I thought it was just a myth!"

"No, sir. I'm afraid it was very, very real."

"That sounds ominous."

"Well, we're still collating much of the data, but it appears that prior to the Cataclysm, America was considered the dominant nation-state on the planet, in terms of raw cultural influence."

"Considered dominant by whom?"

"Principally by Americans themselves, sir."

"Interesting. But there were other nation-states, correct?"

"Yes, sir. Approximately 200, we think."

"Did we collect any information on them?"

"Very little, sir. The existent datasphere is overwhelmingly composed of -- or perhaps littered with -- artifacts from America. As you know, we programmed the temporal 'bots to narrow their analysis so as not to overheat their quantum foam engine banks. But even this narrow slice of analysis suggests a remarkable cultural hegemony."

"Any initial conclusions?"

"It seems Americans had a severe, perhaps terminal, preoccupation with something called 'celebrity'."

"What in the world is that?"

"Well, it's a phenomenon driven by their primitive electronic and print media, in which certain citizens enjoyed the status of being widely honored and acclaimed."

"Their leaders, then? Their physicians and educators, artists and poets?"

"No, sir. Evidently the assignation of celebrity was almost entirely random, though there appears to be a strong correlation with certain preferred bone structures and body-mass indices."

"I don't understand."

"I'm not quite sure that I do, either. But that's what the report indicates. Some celebrities were indeed artists, of a sort. Musicians or performers, actors --"

"Did you say actors?"

"Yes, sir."

"You're telling me that actors were honored and privileged in the 21st century?"

"Above all others, sir. But only some of them."

"It's as if we've shook hands with a man from the past!"

[Image from UFO Watchdog.com]

"Well, perhaps that is understandable. The sublime dramatic actor who can convey stories and truths --"

"Um, no, sir. Again, prime criteria appear to be bone structure and body-mass index."

"This is hard to believe."

"It gets stranger, sir. Evidently, around the turn of the 21st century, the celebrity system went completely haywire. There are several instances of persons who were famous for simply voicing dubious opinions loudly, committing crimes, or sharing 'videos' of themselves on the 'Internet' -- essentially a wideband distribution of 2-D holographic documents over a primitive networking system."

"Fascinating. It's a miracle they ever developed past Aggro-Ego Cultural Evolution Phase IV."

"They didn't, sir."


"Also, as celebrity status faded, many subprime -- or 'B-List' -- celebrities would be housed together and obsessively documented for further media wideband distribution. In other cases, non-celebrity citizens would compete to engage socially with the subprime celebrity, themselves becoming proto-celebrities in the process."

"This can't be correct. Are you sure this 'America' was the foremost nation-state on Earth?"

"Yes, sir. It's incredibly confusing. I've saved the best for last. In the final days before the Cataclysm, there developed a certain stratum of celebrity which was composed, by all indications, of individuals famous … for being famous."

"But that makes no sense!"

"I concur. There is, plainly, a fundamental cause-and-effect paradox in place. Many of our researchers believe that this causal dilemma may well be the ultimate source of the Cataclysm. That, by generating celebrities out of literally nothing, America violated certain conservation-of-matter laws underpinning the cultural superconsciousness. The accumulated culture of the entire planet was wiped out in the resultant detonation."

"Unbelievable. I'm getting a headache. I haven't had a headache in 240 years!"

"Sorry, sir."

"Aren't there any bright spots?"

"As a matter of fact, yes there are, sir. We uncovered a digital cache of OMNI magazines from the early 1990s, which are quite sophisticated and engaging."

"OK, then. I'm going to make an executive decision: We keep the magazines, and delete the rest from the records. This 'celebrity' business seems simply too dangerous to disseminate."

"Too late, sir. I already released our preliminary findings to Galactic Information Services. Apparently, there's already quite a bit of talk in the public forums, and many are praising your initiative for going forward with the project. I've scheduled a full press conference in 10 minutes in the holo room.

"Wow. Really? Well, let's go! Um, how's my hair look?"

(sigh) "You look fabulous, sir."

Please Donate to Help Save PopMatters

PopMatters have been informed by our current technology and hosting provider that we have less than a month, until November 6, to move PopMatters off their service or we will be shut down. We are moving to WordPress and a new host, but we really need your help to save the site.





Bishakh Som's 'Spellbound' Is an Innovative Take on the Graphic Memoir

Bishakh's Som's graphic memoir, Spellbound, serves as a reminder that trans memoirs need not hinge on transition narratives, or at least not on the ones we are used to seeing.


Gamblers' Michael McManus Discusses Religion, Addiction, and the Importance of Writing Open-Ended Songs

Seductively approachable, Gamblers' sunny sound masks the tragedy and despair that populate the band's debut album.


Peter Guralnick's 'Looking to Get Lost' Is an Ode to the Pleasures of Writing About Music

Peter Guralnick's homage to writing about music, 'Looking to Get Lost', shows how good music writing gets the music into the readers' head.


In Praise of the Artifice in George Cukor's 'Sylvia Scarlett'

George Cukor's gender-bending Sylvia Scarlett proposes a heroine who learns nothing from her cross-gendered ordeal.


The Cure: Ranking the Albums From 13 to 1

Just about every Cure album is worth picking up, and even those ranked lowest boast worthwhile moments. Here are their albums, spanning 29 years, presented from worst to best.


The 20 Best Episodes of 'Star Trek: The Original Series'

This is a timeless list of 20 thrilling Star Trek episodes that delight, excite, and entertain, all the while exploring the deepest aspects of the human condition and questioning our place in the universe.


The 20 Best Tom Petty Songs

With today's release of Tom Petty's Wildflowers & All the Rest (Deluxe Edition), we're revisiting Petty's 20 best songs.

Joshua M. Miller

The 11 Greatest Hits From "Greatest Hits" Compilations

It's one of the strangest pop microcosms in history: singles released exclusively from Greatest Hits compilations. We rounded 'em up and ranked 'em to find out what is truly the greatest Greatest Hit of all.


When Punk Got the Funk

As punks were looking for some potential pathways out of the cul-de-sacs of their limited soundscapes, they saw in funk a way to expand the punk palette without sacrificing either their ethos or idea(l)s.


20 Hits of the '80s You Might Not Have Known Are Covers

There were many hit cover versions in the '80s, some of well-known originals, and some that fans may be surprised are covers.


The Reign of Kindo Discuss Why We're Truly "Better Off Together"

The Reign of Kindo's Joseph Secchiaroli delves deep into their latest single and future plans, as well as how COVID-19 has affected not only the band but America as a whole.


Tommy Siegel's Comic 'I Hope This Helps' Pokes at Social Media Addiction

Jukebox the Ghost's Tommy Siegel discusses his "500 Comics in 500 Days" project, which is now a new book, I Hope This Helps.


Kimm Rogers' "Lie" Is an Unapologetically Political Tune (premiere)

San Diego's Kimm Rogers taps into frustration with truth-masking on "Lie". "What I found most frustrating was that no one would utter the word 'lie'."


50 Years Ago B.B. King's 'Indianola Mississippi Seeds' Retooled R&B

B.B. King's passion for bringing the blues to a wider audience is in full flower on the landmark album, Indianola Mississippi Seeds.


Filmmaker Marlon Riggs Knew That Silence = Death

In turning the camera on himself, even in his most vulnerable moments as a sick and dying man, filmmaker and activist Marlon Riggs demonstrated the futility of divorcing the personal from the political. These films are available now on OVID TV.


The Human Animal in Natural Labitat: A Brief Study of the Outcast

The secluded island trope in films such as Cast Away and television shows such as Lost gives culture a chance to examine and explain the human animal in pristine, lab like, habitat conditions. Here is what we discover about Homo sapiens.


Bad Wires Release a Monster of a Debut with 'Politics of Attraction'

Power trio Bad Wires' debut Politics of Attraction is a mix of punk attitude, 1990s New York City noise, and more than a dollop of metal.


'Waiting Out the Storm' with Jeremy Ivey

On Waiting Out the Storm, Jeremy Ivey apologizes for present society's destruction of the environment and wonders if racism still exists in the future and whether people still get high and have mental health issues.

Collapse Expand Reviews

Collapse Expand Features

PM Picks
Collapse Expand Pm Picks

© 1999-2020 PopMatters.com. All rights reserved.
PopMatters is wholly independent, women-owned and operated.