Sunday, September 18, 2011

Go For The Gold, Chaz!

I was called out for being condescending. I wasn't though. I was merely correcting some facts a fellow Huffington Post commenter had gotten wrong concerning the career of Ms. Cherilyn Sarkisian Bono Allman - or as she is known on Twitter, Cher. Concurrently, I was pointing out the difference between the words artist, celebrity and star which the commenter was consistently confusing.

The cloud was abuzz with the news that Chaz Bono was a contestant on Dancing With The Stars; pro and con opinions as to whether the poster child for transgenderality (if I might use that word) deserved a place on the competition show were being defined in so many bytes. Cher, Lynnette Southwood opined, is a celebrity. How does that make Chaz one?

According to Merriam-We­bster, celebrity is a noun defined as the state of being celebrated­. Merriam-We­bster then defines celebrated as widely known and often referred to. Paris Hilton, Kim Kardashian, and the real housewives are celebritie­s - widely known and often referred to. Bristol Palin. like the Teen Moms on MTV, are celebrities. Widely known and often referred to.

Cher is also widely known and often referred to but that is fallout from a career of artistic accomplish­ments spanning 50 years. Cher is an actress and a singer as well as a TV performer. Cher has an Oscar for Moonstruck­. She has many hit records and two television shows under her belt. Cher has acted on Broadway and been directed by Robert Altman. Cher is an artist - whether you like her art or not, Miss HP commenter - and because of that she is a also celebrity. SO far we agree.

Now, a star is a term manufactur­ed in the early days of Hollywood for use by Hollywood. MGM - More Stars Than There Are In Heaven. Today star is synonymous with celebrity. Thus, industry movers and shakers can change the definition of star because they set the bar. And the producers of Dancing With The Stars do just that. The Real housewives of Bravo have never been asked to compete but the aforementioned Palin and Bono have. So Hollywood has expanded the definition of star to include, well, pretty much everybody (except the housewives). Kim and Rob Kardashian, Tom DeLay, Shannen Doherty, Joey Fatone, Drew Lachey, Nancy Grace and Kelly Osbourne are all celebrity stars in this cock-eyed caravan of dance.

As for Cher's son Chaz, he is no different from the others. Chaz is widely known and often referred to - a celebrity. He is a celebrity based on his lineage and activism although he might also be considered an artist, wannabe that is. To recap Chaz's history as an artist he, as Chastity, was in a failed rock band (Ceremony) and wrote a book (which I didn't read). He was the subject of a documentar­y (although the artist in the film's case is the filmmaker, not the subject, who gets the celebrity). Ultimately, Chaz manufactured his celebrity as a way to put a face on transgenderality (if I might use that word again). And he's now a star because of it.

Stardom is always manufactured. Years ago, it was the Hollywood studios who chose someone to whom they would give their backing. Today, it's television producers of shows like Dancing With The Stars and media, like TMZ and the Huffington Post, that chose to whom they give the backing of the star-making machinery.

So, as a star in every 21st century sense of the word, Chaz was chosen for Dancing With The Stars. I applaud the producers. Oodles of publicité. I've never seen the show but I might crank out the 99 cents to vote for Chaz. I still won't watch it but I will try and vote. (Is that how this show works?)

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