Speech at Oxford Union (2014)
- I realized I had, unbeknownst to me, signed an invisible contract which required me to enter into a strange new echelon of society. People suddenly wanted to take pictures of me on the street. Journalists were interested in the kind of socks I preferred. … It was an atmosphere from which I instantly wanted to retreat. I detested the superficial elevation and commodification of it all, juxtaposed with the grotesque self-involvement it would sometimes draw out in me. Being a faceless member of a mob, I soon realized, is far more comforting than teetering on a brittle pedestal one inch off the ground. The exclusion and subtle differentiation that comes with even the rather diluted form of celebrity that I have embarrasses me.
- Having one's image — and effectively, life — democratized, dehumanizes and sometimes objectifies it into an entertainment product.
- Something rather frightening takes place, namely a self-fulfilling fame that's come up only in the past decade or so, that does not need to base itself in adaptive skill, or any skill for that matter. All it needs is the fuel of more celebrity, and thus more prestige, and thus more celebrity, and so on ad infinitum.
- The danger hidden within Weber's charismatic celebrity is … having a predisposition to imitate any one individual must always have its negative impact especially when the role model does not feel a duty … to instantiate suitable values to adopt.
- Celebrity worship syndrome … is indicative of a kind of a complete dissolution of the self in favor of another. … Whether it's a mob mentality or a desire to be controlled by something higher than you, these cases are indicative of how charisma can replace the ego.
- What are the dangers, then, involved in being a celebrity? On the one hand, there's … the true loss of the self by virtue of being over-democratized, over-saturated, over-loved, perhaps. Without an internally directed compass, an ego can drown in its own fascination, rendering the bearer unable to posit or hang anything actual onto themselves. This again is essentially the argument from commodification, which prescribes a kind of a ravenous, ecstatic feast upon a soul until it becomes defined purely in terms of its external ability to in fact be consumed.