“Opinions are like navels – everybody has one.” – my Mom.
Everywhere I turned for the last four days, the topic of conversation was Jenner, whether you go by Caitlyn or Bruce. Back in the olden days it was due to extraordinary athletic abilities, now it’s due to surgery, cosmetics and clothes. Pete wrote about Jenner yesterday, I wrote about Jenner back in February, everybody’s talking about it everywhere: in Brazil, in Spain, really everywhere (I didn’t check the ISIS viewpoint, though).
Certainly there are more consequential topics to ponder: “big issues” like Islamism, Supreme Court decisions, politicians; personal issues like family, health. Each one of us, in our own way, deal with them, sometimes they intersect, and these matters become more pressing at times, at times becoming overwhelming. Victor Davis Hanson brilliantly writes about all – Disasters at Home and Abroad, Pathei Mathos: What I Relearned the Last 12 Months, but we all cope to lesser or greater degrees.
So, why do we talk about Jenner, a person most of us will never meet and who has no consequence (and likely will never have) in our lives?
Here’s a modest list of reasons: Please add to it in the comments section,
- Jenner was world-famous to begin with, initially due to his own effort and talent. It’s not just any schmuck who wins record-breaking decathlons.
- The story involves sex. Top gossip always is about sex.
- Media hype. Vanity Fair mag is very good at creating its own hype, but this is also a media-driven story. It’s on every TV channel, newspaper, and social media venue.
- It’s a distraction from more serious issues.
- It mixes sports, showbiz, fashion.
- It meets an agenda, in this case for transgender activism.
- The celebrity industry.
Item #7 has snowballed during the last couple of hundred years.
Back in the nineteenth century the King of Belgium chased after Lola Montez, and (outside of his country, or his royal relatives, which were numerous due to intermarriage) only those who could read newspapers learned about it . Everybody else was too busy working sunrise-to-dawn to notice.
Today Jenner’s own relatives have become multi-millionaires from being famous, and a lot of people have enough spare time to hear/read about them. Celebrities need agents, publicists, stylists, and on and on, and there’s money to be made. What started as a subset of the entertainment industry has become an industry as of itself.
There’s also – I venture to guess – a varying measure of the train-wreck factor, with some nastier elements of human nature mixed in, as there is in most gossip items.
The train-wreck factor is not totally out of the picture. Jenner may genuinely be happy at last. However, others who put themselves through similar transitions had serious problems, as this article by Walt Hyer explains. It’s a story in the making.
As to the nastier elements of human nature, there are the Seven Deadly Sins, and Jenner’s ability to capture money and looks (tall good looking guy, really tall good looking – albeit artificially generated – gal) while being famous (infamous?) won’t be spared some of those too.
About all of which, as my mom said, “Opinions are like navels – everybody has one.”
It’s no wonder, then, we’re talking about Jenner.
Fausta Rodriguez Wertz writes on U.S. and Latin American politics, news and culture at Fausta’s Blog.