I heard with interest about Meghan Daum’s column on the decaying standards for celebrity, and her term "fami-ness", which describes what passes for fame today.  She talks about "celebrity repulsion" and "reverse indifference" and I agree with it all.  Just knowing that for some reason blond pop stars and heiresses and whoever else will do ANYTHING to get the attention of the media is sickening.  But knowing that there are people somewhere who will give them that attention is even worse.  Then there is the media saturation around anything humiliating or sad that happens to a "regular" person.  It’s bad enough that the stink of their humiliation starts to cling to us.  It’s worse when media saturation drives out any compassion I might have started out with.  At first when we heard about the astronaut love triangle and the diaper (always the diaper, why do we have to hear about the diaper?) I felt sorry for her.  Poor thing, I thought.  Everybody goes off the deep end once in awhile.  But after a few more days, my compassion gets worn away.  Ick, is all I have left.  That poor woman deserves better. 

It used to be enough to claim ignorance or apathy.   "Britney who?" we’d say, with a curious frown; and then, with a condescending shrug, "I never watch TV."  But that doesn’t work anymore, and we know it.  If knowing the details of the lives of pathetic media whores was a virus, we’d all have it, and I for one am fed up.  Isn’t there a corollary to freedom of expression?  Can’t I be free from someone’s else’s free speech?  Probably not. 

I have an idea.  How about a Faminess Exchange?  Like the Chicago Climate Exchange: if you want to pollute, you pay.  If my factory is going to put out x amount of sulphur dioxide, I pay the Exchange for "carbon credits", and the money I pay goes towards solutions for the noxious stink and environmental damage I just caused.  Similarly, when celebrities humiliate themselves in order to get our attention, they have to buy Media Pollution credits, to compensate for the cultural stink they have created.  They’ve got the money!  They can afford it.  The money raised by the purchase of Media Pollution credits could go to court-ordered faminess rehab for repeat offenders, or to public television or libraries or something.  Of course the biggest purchasers of Media Pollution credits, as in the environmental model, would be not individuals but the corporate purveyors of media pollution.  You have a choice, Mr./Ms. Media Executive: cover someone new, interesting, and deserving, or bombard us with still more detail about the same eight people we have come to hate, and PAY.  What do you think?