Hollywood celebrities in the USA have always offered us an outlet for our imagination, just as the gods and demigods of historic Greece and Rome once did. Hollywood celebrities are our myth bearers; carriers of the divine forces of good, evil, lust, and redemption. “The wish for kings is an old and familiar wish, as well-known in medieval Europe as in ancient Mesopotamia,” writes Lewis Lapham in his book The Wish For Kings. “The ancient Greeks assigned trace elements of the divine to trees and winds and stones. A river god sulks, and the child drowns; a sky god smiles, and the corn ripens. The modern Americans assign similar powers not only to whales and spotted owls but also to individuals blessed with the aura of celebrity.”
Historically, famous people were recorded in stone and in paint. Alexander the Great was the first famous person in a modern day sense, contends Leo Braudy, Ph.D., professor of English in the University of Southern California and author of The Frenzy of Renown. “Not only did he want to be unique, but he wanted to tell everybody about it, and he had an apparatus for telling everybody about it. He had techniques for doing famous things. He had historians, painters, sculptors, gem carvers on his battles.”
Heroes, all of us might agree, bring intrinsic benefit-the essence of the heroic and the noble. Durable gods serve to raise our vision above the mundane.