News and Opinion from Sisters, Oregon

The real deal - an antidote to celebrity

My wife enjoys watching award shows. I’d rather have each of my fingernails removed by the pincers of a medieval torturer than to sit through the Golden Globes. Not a problem — I simply retired Sunday evening to watch Cold War documentaries on YouTube. While the glitterati cavorted, I watched the fall of Dien Bien Phu. Again.

This amiable arrangement didn’t let me entirely escape the cult of celebrity. I was informed at dinner that a moment had already gone viral when the host of the Golden Globes — some poor comic who is supposed to be entertaining and funny without giving offense to a wicked sensitive crew —made a crack about the ubiquitous, inescapable presence of Taylor Swift. Ms. Swift was apparently mightily displeased and “looked daggers” at him. Or maybe it was all just part of the performance. Who knows?

It is, indeed, impossible to avoid Taylor Swift, even if you’ve given up watching football. Her romance with a Kansas City Chiefs receiver is all over news feeds. I opined that it seems like a special kind of hell to have your every move and facial expression shared with the entire world, scrutinized and prognosticated upon by millions of people who don’t know you but feel and act as though they do.

Yet, people actually aspire to that. The lure of fame and celebrity.

There has always been a cult of celebrity; people have always aspired to fame, whether or not it’s connected to actual accomplishment. There’s an innate human drive to “be somebody” and to be seen to be somebody. Social media now holds out for those susceptible to the lure the possibility of becoming Instagram famous or TikTok famous for … well, being Instagram or TikTok famous. For folks who climb on that hamster wheel, attention isn’t just currency; it’s oxygen.

It may be that feeding narcissistic tendencies in the human animal is not such a great idea, but this is the world we live in, and railing against it is futile (although you could probably become an anti-influencer influencer if you played your Instagram content cards right).

I got to pondering on all this after meeting with a couple of very interesting people last week. This is the best part of the newspaper gig — connecting with people who have done truly remarkable things in life, and hearing their stories. Both of these folks expressed some interest in working with The Nugget in some capacity. Each has had an accomplished career — one in law enforcement, another in tech and publishing — and they continue to seek out interesting and meaningful ways to deploy their hard-won skills and passions.

Neither of them is anything like a celebrity — though I’d bet that within their professional circles they are both well-known and highly regarded. This is the way. It has always been the way. Find meaningful work that adds value to the lives of others and to your community, and you will find a life of satisfaction, regardless of its inevitable trials and tribulations. If your peers recognize the quality of your work, that recognition has real meaning, well beyond attention for attention’s sake.

Sisters has more than its fair share of people of accomplishment, in every conceivable field from arts to agriculture, from business to public service. Getting to work with some of those folks is an honor, and telling the stories of others is a privilege.

It’s good to be reminded amid all the glitter and roar of celebrity culture that we don’t have to look far to find the real deal — genuine accomplishment, real contributions from real folks who deserve a quiet salute. Here’s to ’em.

Author Bio

Jim Cornelius, Editor in Chief

Author photo

Jim Cornelius is editor in chief of The Nugget and author of “Warriors of the Wildlands: True Tales of the Frontier Partisans.” A history buff, he explores frontier history across three centuries and several continents on his podcast, The Frontier Partisans. For more information visit


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