Hollywood Hack Job

By: Nathan Allen

Fr. Gerdtz followed him back, and the two priests exchanged pleasantries and a few jokes.

He then came across the Twitter page of Colleen Robertson from his church. Her most recent post featured a photograph of her and her daughter Briony, standing next to a young woman with peroxide-blonde hair and a dour face hidden behind a pair of giant cataract sunglasses. This, it appeared, was the world-famous Krystal Blayze. Briony wore an ear-to-ear smile in the photograph, while Colleen looked happier than she did on her wedding day. Krystal Blayze looked bored, like she’d rather be anywhere else than where she was at that moment.

Curiosity soon got the better of him. He simply had to know what it was about this woman that made her so appealing, since Colleen’s explanation from earlier that morning hadn’t made a whole lot of sense to him. It was one thing for Briony, a teenager with a brain that was still developing, to illogically worship someone like this. But a grown woman, an otherwise intelligent wife and mother? He was definitely missing something here.

He clicked onto her page to discover that Krystal Blayze had over six million Twitter followers. A few minutes later, he found that she had more than three times that number following her on Instagram.

This revelation plunged him into a deep state of bewilderment. It wasn’t just the gargantuan number of followers. It was more the fact that she was famous for absolutely no reason at all. All this woman appeared to do with her life was post an endless array of photographs of herself in various states of undress for the pleasure of her anonymous, grammatically-averse followers. She was pictured reclining in a swimsuit on a beach, reclining in a different swimsuit by a pool, and reclining sans-swimsuit on a bed, as well as hundreds more showing her either shopping or partying. Scattered throughout was the occasional inspirational quote about self-acceptance and finding inner peace. None of her followers appeared to have noticed that these quotations directly contradicted the egoistical, materialistic lifestyle she openly promoted.

But it only got worse when he learned that Krystal Blayze was far from an isolated example. There were hundreds, possibly even thousands of others just like her. Ordinary, unremarkable people who had cultivated huge online followings for no discernible reason. They possessed no unique talents, nor had they done anything to benefit anyone other than themselves. There was nothing particularly interesting about any of them. In fact, most appeared to be simply horrible people – self-centered, shallow, vindictive and extraordinarily vain. Of greater concern was that this sort of behavior was actively rewarded. An ostentatious display of wealth or a childish Twitter feud usually resulted in the offending parties gaining additional followers and becoming even more popular.

Some indigenous cultures believed that part of their soul was lost when their photograph was taken. Judging by the evidence before him, Fr. Gerdtz concluded that whenever some dummkopf took their own picture and posted it online, several million brain cells were irreparably damaged. Here was incontrovertible proof that we were all living in a post-shame world.

He kept on clicking over and over, unable to stop himself, viewing different versions of the same image. He saw young people pouting into the camera, shots in a mirror’s reflection, post-workout images, point-of-view beach snaps, and innumerable instances of people who believed that having their tongue hanging out of their mouths somehow made them edgy or subversive.

[Side note: Hanging Tongue Syndrome is a condition prevalent in many types of dogs. It is caused by inbreeding.]

Something about this troubled him greatly. Even if he wasn’t able to properly articulate his concerns, the fact that such superficiality was not only condoned but admired made him fear for the future of the human race. He had long suspected the world was becoming more tolerant of the gauche and the obscene – that much was obvious when the country saw fit to elect a boorish orange-faced buffoon from a reality television show as its president – but only now was the full extent of this diseased culture evident.

Celebrity had metastasized to become the new opiate of the masses. Fame was the sole aim for millions rather than the byproduct of hard work and success. Rampant consumerism and mindless celebrity worship infected every square inch of society. Everybody wanted to be somebody, and nobody wanted to be just anybody.

The public, too, was consumed with the lives of these vacuous fame-chasers, deliberately shutting out anything from the real world that might penetrate their own blinkered existence. It was a phenomenon that had spread to all segments of media. In that day’s newspaper, a suicide bombing attack in Jakarta that left thirty-three people dead was allocated just a small fraction of page fourteen. News of a Hollywood divorce and a rapper’s new shoe line both received much greater coverage. What was once relegated to the gossip section now polluted the entire newspaper.

Fr. Gerdtz removed his glasses and rubbed his tired eyes. He was getting older, and the modern world was leaving him behind. He was so far removed from the younger generations that they may as well have arrived from another planet. They lived different lives and had different values. They no longer had any need for the church, preferring to give their attention to the unlimited entertainment options available twenty-four/seven on their massive TVs and devices that fit comfortably in their pockets. Trying to compete with that was like trying to nail custard to a wall.