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The Celebrity Memoir: Is it art?

Written by Arts

Memoir writing is truly the action of life imitating art. Therefore, the questioning of the validity of celebrities’ memoirs is deeply rooted in how we define the “celebrity”. 

Books from singers, journalist and politicians tend to gain more respect only because of their writing backgrounds. Patti Smith, Michael Palin and The Obamas have received high acclaims for their memoirs as society exempts them from the umbrella term of the “celebrity”.

Whereas in the case of Emily Ratajkowski’s collection of personal essays, she is merely defined by her supermodel looks and is reduced to a non-thinker.

It is impossible to fathom what we could learn or even how we could associate with her. This perhaps says more about us as a society rather than Ratajkowski. 

Readers may find difficulty in reading Ratajkowski’s article for The Cut because of her description of choice feminism, but this does not take away from the fact that her work is a viable art form. Art is certainly not defined by its criticism, but it is most definitely furthered by it. 

Art is also not defined by its relatability. Surely, the creation of work through one’s emotions and experiences constitutes a craft. Therefore, labelling the celebrity memoir as unimportant poses a hierarchal problem of the Voice and who gets to own it. 

As a society, we often feel entitled to project our own assumptions of those in the public eye. It only seems just to give Ratajkowski the right to reclaim her own narrative in a world where social media and press tend to dictate the presentation of her life. The condemnation of the celebrity memoir is actually the banning of the individual voice, which in itself is restricts the creation of art.

Lily Dosanjh

Despite my very liberal interpretation of what is and isn’t art, I’ve got to put my foot down at some point, and calling celebrity memoirs warrants it.

Sure, literature can be art, and mostly is, but celebrity memoirs aren’t really ‘literature’ in the artistic sense of the word. Rarely do they say something interesting or anything new, they’ll mostly consist of a successful person telling you their life story and their thoughts, oblivious to the fact that it’s all totally and completely irrelevant to their work and what people care about hearing from them.

The vast majority of celebrities got where they are through either sheer luck or networking.

Almost every wildly successful famous person got there through some sort of lucky break or ‘knew someone’. Their advice should be taken with a grain of salt.

It also depends really on what type of ‘celebrity’ wrote them. I’d be much more interested in what an artist or a politician had to say about their life, as opposed to an actor or talk show host. I’m still not sure I’d call it art, but I’m sure there are memoirs out there with artistic value, especially if they are told through some form of abstraction and symbolism. The bare history of a person’s life, however, does not qualify as art.

Muslim Taseer

Featured images: Emily Ratajkowski via Instagram

Last modified: 30th October 2020

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