Update: Here’s a link to a somewhat more concise review I did for Goodreads.
One of the most common critiques of contemporary American society, and Western culture more broadly, is its purported enthrallment to the opiate of celebrity. The notion that ordinary Americans are so dumbfounded by popular entertainment that they can’t understand linear, logical thought, let alone come up with workable solutions to complex problems which require such understanding, is not new. The late Neil Postman wrote an entire book exploring the damage wrought by modern communication techniques-namely, television and advertising-to the process of information-gathering, and by extension, rational argument and inquiry. However, even Henry David Thoreau-who lived before radio had attenuated the attention spans of humans weaned on the printed word-lamented the prospect of instantaneous communication.
Even so, you can’t properly understand the term celebrity until you’ve looked at a totalitarian state which is dominated not so much by an ideological impulse or dogma as by a cult of personality. That’s why the book written by celebrity ghostwriter Michael Malice-seen above in his dashing North Korean suit-about the late despot Kim Jong-il serves as an invaluable resource. Dear Reader: The Unauthorized Autobiography of Kim Jong Il-gives a western audience the rare opportunity to peer into the mind of someone who stood at the apex of a regime in which there was only one family and one person who was to be celebrated-upon pain of imprisonment, torture, and death. Read More »