Fantastic Voyeur: Lurking on the Dark Side of Biography

| October 30, 2000

Fantastic Voyeur: Lurking on the Dark Side of Biography, Fred Vermorel, Village Voice Literary Supplement
Who created the cult of celebrity? The Romantics and Sigmund Freud, that's who. At least that's what Fred Vermorel asserts in a piquant look at the origins of celebrity biography in the Village Voice Literary Supplement. Both Romanticism and psychoanalysis champion the individual and 'inner' truth, and it is this intense focus, writes Vermorel, that fostered a genre obsessed with the intimate details of private lives. Celebrity biography is the result of the colorful journey 'from Rousseau's buttocks to Freud's couch to the tumbling chairs of Jerry Springer.' Its effectiveness depends upon the dissolution of the private and public spheres--only in-your-face intimacy will do. 'They are so real, these intimate strangers, so unbearably, overwhelmingly familiar. We are inducted into their lives, lured into their houses, enticed by their opinions; we meet their kids, learn all about their sex lives and their ailments and favorite colors and favorite songs.' --Anjula Razdan
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