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‘Antiviral’ and Celebrity Obsession

By Alyssa Rosenberg on August 13, 2012 at 5:04 pm

"‘Antiviral’ and Celebrity Obsession"

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I think a lot about our relationship to celebrity and to culture, and while I think Antiviral, the first movie from Brandon Cronenberg (son of David) may get at the intensity of our obsession, I’m not sure it looks like it’s got the equation quite figured out:

With intense fandom, I think most people tend to dream of living inside the fictional world they’ve become attached, or to inhabit a persona, but when it comes to actual famous humans, while a small number dream of inhabiting their lives, mostly what strong fans want is for those people to live out their fantasies of what those people’s lives should be like. When Kristen Stewart cheats on Robert Pattinson, people are angry because they believe the two have some sort of obligation to them to live out a fantasy. When utterly unfounded rumors swirl that Gillian Anderson is living with David Duchovny, Scully and Mulder fans’ hearts beat a little faster, because it’s as if a fantasy has stepped out of viewers’ brains, as if there’s a weird kind of power to the wish. When people threaten Ellen Page for dating Alexander Skarsgard, it’s not because they think he should be dating them, but because Page fails to live up to some sort of bizarre standard for the kind of woman Skarsgard ought to be dating. For the most part, we don’t want to consume these people’s flesh or feel what they feel. We want them to be our paper dolls, a desire that’s tyrannical even as it distances us from the real lives of the people we’d like to command, off-camera and on, for our entertainment.

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