Celebrity Conquers America

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No one wanted Princess Diana to die the way she did —it was too brutal—but had she instead slipped into a descending spiral of playboy husbands, increasingly erratic interviews, and embarrassing involuntary photo ops, it would have been a celebrity feast. Her in-laws, adulteries, and bulimia were the foretaste.

This year brings its own crop of celebrities, as will every year. Barring some unimaginable catastrophe or shift, the system can’t not run. It wants us, and we want it. But that doesn’t mean we entirely like it. The engine runs, but there is friction. Rattles. A slight, sour smoke.