John Scalzi has an excellent post about another reader emailing to tell him that because he’s dared to express (somewhat liberal) politics on his blog, this reader will no longer be buying Scalzi’s books anymore. Scalzi goes on to rightly say how pathetic this is.
He illustrates this with a magnificent point about himself and his relative level of celebrity:
I don’t want to be disingenuous or artificially humble about my notability, but at the same time, let’s have some perspective. Let’s say I am a celebrity among science fiction writers. Fine. You know who is more famous than me? My cat. Who is more famous than her? Wil Wheaton. Who is more famous than him? Neil Gaiman. Who is more famous than Neil? Tila Tequila. And thus, we learn the value of celebrity.
He illustrates a point I’ve long thought for years now: The more famous you are, the less likely you are to actually be in that position for any useful reason or accomplishment. (Let’s call that Turner’s Law of Modern Fame 🙂 )
And I think he tells us something about modern celebrities in general. Outside of politicians and sports people (who have some, but limited worth in their field), is any overwhelming celebrity worth anything great deal at all? We live in an age where “true celebrity” means Britney or Paris — the very worst of us, with little to no talent or value whatsoever, except as a freakish sideshow. There might be the occassional exception (JK Rowling maybe?), but it’s becoming more and more true.
The “celebrities” of value now are people in their own specific fields, whether it be the bloggers of BoingBoing, or Neil Gaiman (or even Scalzi) as sci-fi/fantasy authors and so on.
Being famous to a specific group of people (large or small) semes to have more intrinsic value than any of the overwhelming celebrity of the modern age. It’s where Id like to see myself and my writing within a few years. And from what I can tell, it’s a hell of a lot easier on the “celebrity” as well!