The Rise of the Ubiquitous Cult Of Personalities: Lil Tay is the Rule Rather Than the Exception
“She’s not a very good storyteller but everyone loves her. I don’t get it.”
A late night text from a friend who had just been to a local show that featured a semi-celebrated teller in that community.
“She’s a cult of her own personality. She doesn’t need any craft or skill. She’s riding on pure personality and a character she’s created.”
These are the times we live in. Certainly there have always been fame-seekers and starfuckers and those whose personal brand is exactly that — a personal brand. Thomas Edison, P.T. Barnum, Randolph Hearst. All legends created first and foremost by themselves to gain recognition from as many people as possible in order to fleece a few bucks out of the out-turned pockets of the rabble.
The tumor of cancerous cells sprouting out the internet known as social media has only expanded those individuals who truck in this sort of branding to include, well, fucking everyone.
On YouTube, the vast wasteland of anonymous fucktards who offer their unsolicited commentary (the admonition to not read the comments is well advised given the putrid stench of 14-year olds throwing shit at anyone and everyone), we have self-branding cults of personality like PewDiePie. Fifty-four million YouTube subscribers. FIFTY-FOUR MILLION. His contribution to society? He streams videos of him joking around and playing video games. He made $15 million in 2016 for this.
DanTDM has 15 million subscribers watch him post reviews and play video games. JennaMarbles has 17 million subscribers doing videos about her journey as a millennial woman.
“At (allegedly) nine years old, viral star Lil Tay made headlines last week for getting her mother, Angela Tian, fired over her profanity-laden videos. If you haven’t heard of Lil Tay by now, consider yourself lucky. As the (repeatedly) self-anointed “youngest flexer of the century,” the kid does everything from revving “her” Ferraris to tossing stacks of hundred-dollar bills in the air with YouTube star Jake Paul. “I’m out here flexing to y’all broke-ass haters!” she crows, like a Lost Boy from hell, in one of her Instagram posts. “I got a $350,000 chain, y’all haven’t seen this in your lives, I’m richer than all y’all... y’all broke and jealous.”
“With over 1.7 million followers on Instagram, Lil Tay is every proverbial car crash you can’t look away from, except in miniature — painfully, cringingly miniature. She’s messy, like a growing child star plastered across the pages of tabloids over the past few decades, but she also embodies everything we understand about excess, about being extra.”
A friend of mine in both the non-profit and storytelling worlds recently texted me that “Mediocrity breeds mediocrity. That's how I feel about organizations right now. I look at my colleagues. And they are unqualified. I mean, unqualified. Mediocre people do well. They fit in.”
She is, of course, correct.
Another friend, a former performer in the improv world now submerged in the putrescent estuary of the 9-to-5 data entry life, confessed that most of his creative thinking these days is trying to come up with that hook that will help him build a YouTube subscriber base so he can quit his day job and just be himself on camera.
Arguably, our anserine president is only in the Oval because of his cult of personality and that is the harshest truth to swallow. So many in the world are celebrating their mediocrity, placing the highest of values on the least amount of skill or craft, seeking fame and notoriety for just being themselves, that we elected exactly who they strive to be and the irony of that fact is completely lost on them.
Make no mistake. This state of affairs is our fault, not theirs. It isn’t Lil Tay or her morally bankrupt mother who bears the brunt of the dumbing down of culture. It is her 1.7 million followers, who watch the car wreck, video after video, who are responsible. A foul-mouthed, pretend ghetto nine-year old wouldn’t be doing this unless we watched. The storyteller without skill but vomiting forth personality would be forced to learn how to tell actual stories well if she wasn’t booked and encouraged. PewDiePie only makes millions off of being an asshole with a camera because of us.
Just like Trump.
Just like Kanye.
Cult of Personality exists because of the cult rather than the personality.