OpGaGaRah and the Celebrity Singularity

Paul Raven @ 26-05-2011

There are many reasons I like Ryan “Grumpy Owl” Oakley, but his view of celebrity culture is one of ’em. Here he is invoking the ghost of Guy Debord to ask whether the celebrisphere is contracting toward its very own singularity:

Today, I watched Oprah’s final show then Lady Gaga Live.

They seem to be very different entertainers but they gave the same speech with the same message. Oprah talked about her hard-knock life, told people that if they just loved themselves, their dreams would all come true and nothing could stop them from being happy and successful. Gaga talked about her hard-knock life, told people to follow their dreams and love themselves and nothing could stop them from being famous.

After all, it worked for them, right?


Right now, in a corporate laboratory, scientists are creating OPGAGARAH. They’ve tried before. Tyra Banks was their most recent failure. But they will get it right.

Then, we shall have one media personality who appeals to every demo/psychographic. A monopoly on all culture. A common goal that tells us to love ourselves and our dreams will all come true. A psychic hegemon to cower before while aspiring to be. Someone that both parent and teenager likes. A beautiful monster that eats life and shits profit.

I hear you, Ryan. For all GaGa’s supposedly transgressive behaviours (and, for the record, I think the most interesting and important thing she’s done is speak out in vocal support of non-heterosexual lifestyles), she’s an accelerating convergence of all the banal pseudotransgressive and titillatory po-mo pop tropes of the last thirty years or so, slowly accreting into a black hole that will hoover in money and attention until it collapses in on itself; like an overclocked Madonna aimed at the dissipating heart of popular culture.

The sad thing is, I don’t think she even realises it; like all the best pop stars, her belief in the independence of her agency is what makes her powerful, but it also blinds her to her own status as a puppet of a dying industry that will sell anything to keep its business model – and the executive carpool, natch – rolling for another few months.

[ Side note: I think the suggestion that GaGa – and others – are starting to sell transhumanist tropes into the mainstream actually supports my argument; last year’s transgression is this year’s coffee-table culture, and they’re running out of more acceptable novelties to peddle. ]