Unimpressed with celebrigods

Unimpressed with celebri

tiger woods (photo credit: AP)
tiger woods
(photo credit: AP)
In January, of 2009, and with the aid of in vitro fertilization, "Octomom," a.k.a Nadya Suleman, gained international attention when she gave birth to octuplets. Aided by science, she became an overnight celebrity and a worldwide sensation. Like a global traffic accident, we all slowed down to view this quasi-virgin birth. Now as the year closes, Tiger Woods, a superstar and truly amazing sports celebrity, literally and figuratively crashed, while dragging with him his own brand and doing insurmountable damage to a number of orbital ones (Nike, Gillette, Accenture) that revolved around his persona. It was also the year when names of politicians who claimed the moral high-ground, John Edwards and Mark Sanford, fell down from their perch. Like Octomom, ordinary people who desired celebrity crashed through the gates of the White House, while others unhinged themselves from grounded reality (see balloon boy's dad) as they sought and entered the eternal world of fame. LOCATED BETWEEN these two strata of manufactured earth and heaven, exists another dimension, a mythical creation generated by a mediasphere, where they'll live on in cyberspace for eternity, locked by their 15 minutes, to wander in a modern day Gehenna. This clash of titanic proportions is a direct descendent of ancient mythology. Today's celebrity gods, who live on a Mount Olympus in media, have a lineage that extends as far back as Zeus, who would spy a fair mortal, swoop down and have his way with her. Tiger's trysts with mere earthly courtesans will be told and retold for as long as those ancient Homeric legends. Only now and forever they live in captured digitized bytes. Like the Greek gods, that represented sea, war, harvest, what have you, Tiger has been heroically aligned as the embodiment of the particular products he sponsors. Seen through the Wayback machine, the ancient struggle between hucksters of myth and those who want to be left in peace on earth is the story of Hanukka. It is the story of a collision between Hellenism (a statue of Zeus was erected by the Syrian Greeks in the Temple) and its many gods, and the one singular Judaic God. And for a shining moment, the Jews, led by Judah Maccabee, were victorious in their resistance. In the centuries to come, while gods and idols would continue to be worshiped, Judaism and its offshoot Christianity would disperse throughout the world, ultimately redefining the notion of God. But as those two paths of Judaism and Christianity diverged, you won't find an individual who possesses the attribute of being both a mortal and a god in Judaism. Yet Hanukka's calendrical cousin does have God and a mortal comingling. When John Lennon, who died 29 years ago this past month, claimed The Beatles were bigger than Jesus, the leader of the greatest celebrity band of the 1960s was knockin' a little too hard on heaven's door. The very concept of Jesus is that he was a man and a god. Born from a virgin mother, his father was God. Since then, no other man, god or celebrity has had the lasting influence, the durable brand recognition, symbolically represented by the cross than that of Jesus. That '70s show wasn't called Jesus Christ Superstar for nothing. Jews who don't buy into this idea are consistent with their forbears who rejected the notion of God taking human form as described by the Greeks and later the Romans (the same guys who ultimately crucified Jesus.) So as we sit here during the Christmas season, surrounded with unavoidable Christmas kitsch looking back on the past year, now an unwrapped present with its content strewn out, we can take pride in our culture's long battle with advertised idols, its own consistent core brand belief and its adherence to something higher. At the same time, we need a sober reality check, because in 2010, the stories, the legends, the myths, like the show, will go on. The writer is based in Baltimore and works in communications.