It has recently come to my attention that Kendall Jenner, of the celebrity Kardashian/Jenner clan, was paid US$22 million in 2017 for modelling, as well as product endorsements, which advertisers feel certain her devoted minions will act upon.
After all, these products are now blessed with the all-important celebrity imprimatur.
It was in F. Scott Fitzgerald’s Jazz Age that the modern concept of celebrity was born. But if the worship of gaudy wealth and fame began in The Great Gatsby era, it has been taken to new, perverse heights in our 21st-century world, particularly in America.
Today, celebrity demigods dominate every field: There are celebrity chefs, yoga instructors, home renovators, plastic surgeons, hip-hop moguls and reality-TV stars breathing the same rarefied air as do actors, athletes and models.
This jet-setting, Davos-attending crowd constitutes its own superclass, amassing more and more wealth and power even as much of the middle class loses theirs.
To address the misery of the world’s poor, we turn to the superheroes Bono, Bill Gates and Mark Zuckerberg.
Replacing America’s once vibrant literary culture is Oprah’s book club. As inequality grows, average folk willingly yield their dreams to the gods, adopting the superrich’s “brands” as badges of validity and identity.
Even Gatsby would be astonished.
– Charles Knighton