Our Obsession with Celebrities --- and Its Roots in the Ancient World
Tulsa, Oklahoma – On today's show, we discuss an equally enlightening and entertaining book called "Fame: What the Classics Tell Us about Our Cult of Celebrity," which originally appeared last year in the UK and is now being published as a "paperback original" in the US by Picador. We speak by phone with Tom Payne, the author of "Fame," who was formerly an editor at the Daily Telegraph and currently teaches classical studies at an English prep school. Here's part of a summary of this book that recently appeared at Newsweek.com: "Former Daily Telegraph literary editor Tom Payne explores how our current celebrity obsession is in fact quite old, drawing provocative parallels between the ancient Greeks and Romans and tabloid staples such as Britney Spears, Kate Winslet, and Princess Diana. Megastars like Lady Gaga, he argues, are elevated to the status of demigods --- but we demand sacrifices from them in return (their image, their privacy). . . . It's not so different from how the Aztecs liked to select a sacrificial victim, worship her as a deity, and then cut out her heart in front of a rapt crowd."