I dare say we do live in a cheap age, an age where the things that should have value are little prized and things that are empty of worth are too highly rated. But who on earth could think for a second that this is new to our race? Anyone familiar with Aristophanes, Martial, Catullus, Shakespeare, Jonson, Dryden, Johnson, Pope, Swift … You get the point.
It has always been the case, since humans could first record their thoughts, that the ‘wrong people’ have been seen to have arrived at the highest positions.
The emperors, kings, aristocrats, ruling classes and gentry, the arrivistes, parvenus and nouveaux riches, the financiers, merchant princes and industrialists, the artists, designers, literati and cultural elite, the actors, sportsmen, television stars, pop singers and presenters, they have all been unfairly elevated to positions they do not deserve.
‘In a just and properly ordered world,’ the angry ones wail, ‘I should be up there too, but I am too proud to say so, so I shall carp and snipe and rant with indignation and show my contempt for the whole boiling. But deep inside I want to be recognized. I just want to count.’
The Fry Chronicles (p. 246), Stephen Fry
Stephen Fry on a society based on celebrities and wanting to be celebrities