The Persistance of Celebrity

July 26, 2008 at 4:46 pm 15 comments

I recently stumbled upon this old video of Salvador Dalí as a guest on the game show “What’s My Line?” The premise is that the panel asks questions in a “20 Questions” kind of format in order to figure out the guest’s profession.

What I really love about this clip, though, is that Dalí is one of the greatest geniuses of the past century, with loads of achievements in film and the fine arts. Because of that, he’s an incredibly recognizable celebrity. The entire studio audience, being at least marginally familiar with his work, grasps the scope of his accomplishments, and therefore his affirmative answers are increasingly funny, as it’s almost impossible to pigeonhole him.

I love the differences in television, just in the last fifty years.  The editing and pacing are so much slower, and even the way people talk was different.  No wonder it’s so often romanticized.

I’m not sure whether it’s a commentary on the uniqueness of Dalí, or on the uselessness of our current celebrities, but I can’t imagine an equivalent character on television today. Racking my brain further, I can’t even come up with a public figure who is instantly recognizable simply for being genuinely talented. Television shows take joy in destroying the people they portray, through humiliation or ridicule. I guess it’s simply that pop figures aren’t meant to be respected anymore. Entertainment is meant to elevate the viewer in relation to the subject, and producers repeatedly show the utmost contempt for their viewers by airing increasingly offensive drivel.

In conclusion, Dalí is great, and tv is rotten.  By the way, if someone can name a modern celebrity equivalent- someone who is internationally recognized and loved, I will totally bake you a cake.


Entry filed under: Betty, I Saw It On TV, Miscellaneous Musings. Tags: , , .

Fried Green Tomatoes at the Harlem Casbah Disturbia

15 Comments Add your own

  • 1. Ryan  |  July 26, 2008 at 6:53 pm

    Dunno how known he is over there, but you’re hard pressed to find anyone who doesn’t like Stephen Fry. I love Stephen Fry. I wish I was Stephen Fry.

    Only without the celibacy.

  • 2. Joe  |  July 26, 2008 at 9:25 pm

    Why would anyone like Stephen Fry? He’s gay… and he’s British.

  • 3. Ryan  |  July 26, 2008 at 10:24 pm

    Yes, such a pity one can’t abstain from Britishness.

  • 4. Betty  |  July 27, 2008 at 1:08 am

    I have only vague knowledge of Stephen Fry, but he seems awesome based on my cursory Wikipedia research. Also I think Joe is attempting to be ironical, pay no mind. Anyone knows that stateside we’re suckers for a British accent.

  • 5. Ryan  |  July 27, 2008 at 6:25 am

    My own ironical skills need a bit of a brushup.

    Is there really no equivalent of Fry in America? Maybe we should loan him out to you. He has a blog, too – tech reviews and essays on pretty much anything that grabs his attention:

  • 6. parkrangerolivia  |  July 27, 2008 at 11:53 am

    i love the way people back then talked. is it just me or are their voices much more pleasant and less abrasive? or is it just microphone technology??

  • 7. neekaps  |  July 27, 2008 at 12:51 pm

    Dali’s like what the hell is going on …the entire time

    He’s so cool.

    All the game show contestants seem really dense.
    They talk really formally and sound snotty (especially the first woman wearing the halter top).

  • 8. alisaurus  |  July 27, 2008 at 3:40 pm

    talented celebrities that are loved and respected? Stephen Colbert. Jon Stewart. Tina Fey. Emeril Lagasse. DeNiro. though i do think today’s constant hounding and coverage of celebrities (and nipple slips!) makes it harder for them to maintain a private life and garner the same level of respect.

  • 9. Joe  |  July 27, 2008 at 6:05 pm

    Most definitely not. One should respect the entire cast of Blackadder – Stephen Fry was there, and so was Miranda Richardson. But Rowan Atkinson was the smart one, and found mainstream success playing a retard – Mr. Bean. Whereas Hugh Laurie, an actual retard if I’ve ever seen one on the show, found mainstream success as everybody’s favorite asshole Dr. House!

    Now my candidate for artist that’s universally loved is David Lynch.

  • 10. bettysmom  |  July 27, 2008 at 7:05 pm

    The first person that comes to my mind when I think of someone multi-talented in the arts is also British, Sir Paul McCartney. As far as the pacing and manner of speaking, that is a reflection of society then. Unfortunately, language has been dummied down today right along with polite society. What is acceptable to today’s generation would be considered defintiely rude by my parents generation and somewhat rude by my generation. Why don’t people take time anymore to really converse and listen to what the other person is saying? Sorry if I am a downer here but I couldn’t resist commenting on this one. Love you all!

  • 11. bettysmom  |  July 27, 2008 at 7:07 pm

    Sorry about the typo in “definitely” and when do I find out if i won the cake?

  • 12. djandy4000  |  July 30, 2008 at 9:27 pm

    stunning footage, and nearly surreal to watch. thanks…

  • 13. Miranda  |  July 31, 2008 at 7:11 pm

    Can it be Tim Gunn? I know he’s only famous for like, one thing, but I want it to be Tim Gunn. I want him to be my gay dad.

  • 14. Disco Stu  |  August 3, 2008 at 4:13 am

    Would Johnny Depp qualify? He’s fairly well respected as an actor pretty much everywhere that I know of.

  • 15. Betty  |  August 3, 2008 at 10:12 am

    I think the difference is that all these guys are famous for being on television or in films, whereas Dali was primarily famous for doing something that doesn’t usually attract much media attention. Although he did films, they weren’t the kind of thing you’d see in the theater, and his tv appearances weren’t the basis of his fame.

    That’s why I think he’s unique- everyone you guys named is awesome, to be sure, but I’m not certain they’re really equivalent!


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