Expiating Stardom

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Prateik Dalmia's analysis of why Hollywood is infested with leftists could stand to focus more on the saturation of the culture with altruism. Nevertheless, I think he makes a profound observation regarding one of the psychological bases of this phenomenon:

Hollywood stars hence feel that there is something arbitrary about their success -- that their personal merit does not warrant their revered status. While they may be pleased at this outcome, they can't help but feel that the system is unjust because their status is undeserved. They watch people in the lower rungs of society struggle and become overcome by a deep sense of guilt for holding the winning ticket in the lottery of life. They distrust capitalism for the seemingly unfair inequality it produces and thus favor redistribution.
That is, on top of knowing nothing about capitalism, they feel unearned guilt (page-search "guilt") for their success.

-- CAV


narayan said...

I think it could also be that celebrities don't understand the difference between market value vs. philosophically objective value of a product or service. I think Ayn Rand once pointed out the difference when answering the question " Why does Elvis make more money than Einstein ?"

Gus Van Horn said...

I agree that that is also part of the picture.

BTW, the quote you want is from Chapter 1 of Capitalism: The Unknown Ideal:

"The tribal mentalities attack this principle from two seemingly opposite sides: they claim that the free market is 'unfair' both to the genius and to the average man. The first objection is usually expressed by a question such as: 'Why should Elvis Presley make more money than Einstein?' The answer is: Because men work in order to support and enjoy their own lives—and if many men find value in Elvis Presley, they are entitled to spend their money on their own pleasure. Presley's fortune is not taken from those who do not care for his work (I am one of them) nor from Einstein--nor does he stand in Einstein's way--nor does Einstein lack proper recognition and support in a free society, on an appropriate intellectual level."

Mo said...

speaking of altruism


Today’s superhero is too much like an action hero who participates in non-stop violence; he’s aggressive, sarcastic and rarely speaks to the virtue of doing good for humanity.”

Gus Van Horn said...

I see the article comparing modern superheroes to older ones from a culturally better era and making a mixture of points, some good and others bad.

The problem with traditional ideas about masculinity is that there REALLY ARE validly masculine qualities, but these are oftentimes package-dealt with rather silly ideas about what "being a man" means. One extreme example I know of is a former coworker's husband who would refuse anesthesia at the dentist. (What the hell does that prove?)

Consequently, I can see strands of feminist attacks on masculinity as such in an article like this, right there along with valid concerns about the psychological harm old-fashioned (but wrong) attitudes on the subject can cause.

The confused nature of the subject combines with the infancy of psychology to make for a veritable stew of half-truths and speculation.

A classic package deal of that kind exists in the SCUM Manifesto, which says that maleness is a defect!

Regarding the idea of comic-book heroes, I have some objections of my own.

Anonymous said...

"One extreme example I know of is a former coworker's husband who would refuse anesthesia at the dentist. (What the hell does that prove?)"

Um, that the big man is afraid of needles? (Teehee)

C. Andrew

Gus Van Horn said...


I wish I'd have thought of that when I heard it. That would have been the perfect thing to say!


Mo said...

personally I like Batman and think Superman is a altruist with no powers achieved through sheer work and genius.