I thought I would share my response to this Salon article "A Nation of Attention Whores"
Here is my letter:
I have been thinking on this all weekend, and it's too simplistic to call reality stars attention whores.
If you are selling yourself as a media product then don't you have to market yourself, or draw attention to yourself, through the most attention garnering strategies possible? Do we see McCain's cleavage pic as morally reprehensible because she exposed something that most of us see as private? By extension are we projecting our cultural shame about female sexuality by gossiping about her choice? Do we hold McCain to a higher, virginal status because of her socio-political status?
I think there are millions of young adults who have posted similar pics with zero media criticism. McCain becomes an easy "anonymous" target to criticize because she is seen as a cultural product and not a person. Because she is dehumanized by distance and the socially distorting and exaggerating effects of the media, we can easily call her a whore without sufficient justification.
Furthermore, why are we using the term whore? Do we see these questionably talented people as interpersonally indiscriminate because they are selling facets of their "supposed" personal lives? Or are we just annoyed by the noise they need to generate to market themselves and rise above the millions of other faceless social media broadcasters (us)? Can't we just see their choices as marketing ploys akin to intrusive grocery store digital signage? As such, I prefer the term attention manipulator.
I hesitate to call myself an attention whore just because I am enjoying putting together a public, socially transgressive project like One Hundred Jobs. I know what my truth is and the strategies I need to employ to garner an audience. And yes, with numbers comes dollars. And if my product is good enough (entertaining, occasionally insightful, funny) why not make a little noise through unusual acts?
We need storytellers in our culture. We also have a psychological need for the social communities generated through gossip. We reinforce our dominant cultural values through our social critiques.
I think attention manipulators are an essential part of our culture and are sometimes more brokers or martyrs than whores.
Do you agree?