In my continuing efforts not to become bitter, i am including the article that I PROPOSED to Radar Magazine. They pretty much changed every single word, and i took my name off of it in the end. Now i know this is always the case with magazines, believe me, but this just seemed weird since it was originally my idea. I have never done that before, but it just didnt seme right, especially since it wasnt any "better" or funnier after it made the round of edits with 6,000 hands all over it. I do love the people there, I just couldnt stand by an article that wasnt mine in the end. Anyway enough bitching.Below is a version of the article, after edit number 3....maybe it was just too critical of our entire STUPID inescapable celebrity industry, who knows....


Pick any week and you'll find former President Bill Clinton at one of a thousand monthly celebrity-soaked functions -- a MusicCares benefit, an All About Eve reading, a Vagina Monologue party, a red carpet step, a Cipriani hall. More often than not, Clinton will be there working the floor like a pollinating bumblebee. You may not be sure what else he is doing these days, but you can count on the fact that he will be seen. He has made himself as accessible as the photo cut-outs of him outside of the White House. It's official: Bill Clinton has become a B List celebrity.

It's not a bad move for the charming former leader of the formerly free world. B list celebrities Ð the gigantic bracket of half-interesting but everpresent semi-stars -- have taken over. Accessible, of arguable talent, always camera-ready and happy to be looked at, the B Listers have flooded our tele-consiousness. This is the dawning of the B List age.

You know them, right? They float there in your memory, as inescapable as cellphones. Their names ring with vague familiarity: Tara Reid, Steven Dorff, [that woman from "Wild on E!"] Bobby Trendy, Justin Guarino, Seth Green, [needed: the semi-familiar name of someone in a band like Sum 41]. You see them popping out on screens and magazines and think, "Is that someone from my freshman dorm? Oh, no, it's Sean William Scott.[is that his name? The Dude where's my car guy]"

Their presence, which may seem innocuous if not slightly irritating, is more significant than you think. The B List stars have become a powerful block -- a kind of celebrity Middle Class -- a forceful influence upon the entire entertainment industry and how we consider fame itself.

It was just a matter of time. With the explosion of cable channels, telecasting satellites, and internet bandwidths, there are more media outlets than ever before trying to vie for the attention of our constantly bombarded, increasingly preoccupied minds. Faces and names fly at you like you are in a scary aviary of hopeful icons. As a result, the levels and striations of fame have become more and more complex and terms like A List, B List, even C List, once insider industry lingo, has become commonplace in our lexicon.

Every network is trying to make sure you see its new controversial sober actor, big-thighed sitcom queen or African American wiseguy. Music labels will do anything to get you to see their spiky face-pierced band or ab-rippling black crooner. These outlets are dying for even the tiniest sliver of a moment of your time, and they need boundlessly energetic, almost sleepless people who are willing to be as "on call" as an EMT for their own fame. They need people who never feel overexposed. And, if they do, they shun the spotlight in a cool, violent Sean Penn-kind of way.

B Listers are the future of fame. Unlike the traditionally fabulous star, B Listers are not histrionic or tragic about their stardom. They are eager attention beavers. Instead of shunning the camera and acting regal and removed, they stay late at premiere parties, get drunk at [Lotus? Bungalow 8? Whats the dumb starbar these days?], wear eye catching dresses that have sides missing, and date and break up each other in conveniently promotional set ups (Brittney Murphy and Ashton Kutcher, Jennifer Garner and Scott TK). In fact, they are better at being paid attention to than their talent: the original reason for being there. But lucky them, nobody cares anymore -- with more and more people auditioning for our memory, it is more important than ever before to be seen rather than to really do anything.

The best example of the power of B List at this moment can be summed up in two words: Amanda Bynes. In the past two months, this mostly unknown, completely forgettably haired and faced actress has appeared on more billboards and ads than Sandra Bullock, Julia Roberts and Jennifer Aniston combined. Who is she? Is she good? Who cares? She has been seen!

With B Listers out there stealing precious airtime, the stakes are incredibly high to be an A list celeb now. You have to pull off superhuman levels of visibility and credibility to be anything higher than a B. You must thrust yourself into several different markets and have an army of handlers and publicists behind you to do it. J.Lo made herself A List by saturating numerous markets: film, TV, music, sneakers, track pants and perfumes, and Eminem lept into a new lionized level of stardom in a month-long heightened PR attack with a sudden slew of respectful, authoritarian articles from the New Yorker, Rolling Stone, and the New York Times Magazine that beknighted him as a modern Elvis.

The B List Middle Class has witnessed the backbreaking work of A Listers and asked itself: Why be a beleaguered, expensively maintained, psychotically private, oppressed-by-the-press A List star when you can enjoy the freedom of a less precious, more party-packed kind of fame? Instead of sneering at the press and spending gobs of money, treat your fame like its a big college mixer! Go ahead and give a tough gangsta salute in an upturned visor for MTV! Grin with gusto for In Style Magazine in your red carpet backless dress!

It's with this attitude of celebrity Žlan that has made non-talents like the Hilton Sisters B List princesses. By making a couple of handbags, and dancing drunk on some bars, the Hilton Sisters, have received coverage that took some A Listers years to acquire.

The significance of this fact has sent our A List stars into furtive fits. Watching their distanced royal regard being battered at by the easy cheer of the B List Nation, some A List stars are trying, with weird results, to be as loose and accessible as B Listers. Take, for example, Liza's failed reality show, Whitney's infamous interview. Even the haunted sphinx of our culture, Michael Jackson, has had to redesign himself into a kind of babbling reality show subject to maintain his once ever-present command of the public eye. Instead of releasing listenable pop music, he protests Tommy Mottola with his weird hand made sign, dangles his baby out of his hotel room balcony, or wanders around and called himself Peter Pan for droolingly grateful interviewers.

But, try as they might, our A Listers will never quite achieve the goofy, blank, easy fame of the B List. There is some atmospheric link between B list celebs and today's strangely mild culture. With their dorm-suite personalities and predictable outfits, romantic life and substance abuse, Blisters make you feel the same low-level emotional attachment that you get in a Cineplex or Barnes and Noble or Starbucks. They represent the flavorless convenience of our age Ð when it is better to have less of an opinion than to say anything too controversial. Which is probably why Madonna, always ahead of the game, decided to pull her anti-war video. It made too much of a statement: not a B List move.

What will our B List Nation bring to culture? We can only surmise. Maybe they could organize into their own voting block and begin to change the face of our country much like latinos have as the largest minority. Maybe they will start a kind of Celebrity Rights movement, with marches and Celebrity Pride rallies. Or at least, maybe they will start their own magazine, called something like "Bestow." Maybe B Listers will start acting like A Listers. Everyone will try to be jaded and glamorously sad about the attention they are getting, pursing their lips and never smiling at anyone.

With so many of them out there, there will be an huge industry that caters to them and their inflated ideas of themselves. Everyone will be demanding like Diana Ross. There will only be special cars and VIP booths in public places. Perhaps the ever growing, happily exposed B List will bring a great democratization of fame. They will show us how to regard people based on virtue and talent, community inspiration and planetary betterment. Unfortunately, the most democratically elected star so far is Kelly Clarkson--who may be talented, but has as much cultural spice as Old Navy. So don't hold your breath.

-May 2003

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