Mosaic 851, Section 16
Although no one likes to admit it, we all love to watch a good train-wreck. My favorite train-wreck to date has been the career of Brittney Spears. The train started to derail around when she started dating (or stopped, they were too close together to distinguish) Kevin Federline, more widely known by his rapping nickname K-Fed. She continued on this downward spiral until she took a stand against her hair stylist and shaved her head, where she had officially hit rock bottom.
You might be wondering, what on earth does Britney Spears have to do with Darwin’s theory of Natural Selection? Well, I believe that the fight for fame is the modern day equivalent to the primitive fight for survival. As with Darwin’s theory in regards to variation, the organisms that were the most similar to each other, were more prone to extinction. We see this in the entertainment business all the time; we don’t watch the Grammy’s to see everyone wear a plain black dress, we watch to see Lady Gaga wear a dress made entirely of raw meat.
When Darwin talks about the isolated competition of herbaceous plants on islands, he discusses the competition that arises within their own species, and how that affects the variations that occur more than external factors, such as other species or the environment (345). Eventually, because they were all so similar, a variation created a plant that would become dominant over all of the other plants. The dominant variation could eventually create a plant close in structure to that of a tree, towering over all the others.
This is exactly how the career of Britney Spears went awry. Her contributions to the entertainment industry were music and sexiness. Unfortunately for her, she was not the only singer (herbaceous plant) that had these attributes. Other artists such as Katy Perry, Beyonce and Lady Gaga started to gain advantageous variations over Britney by diverging from being the “prettiest” and instead, becoming the most memorable. Therefore, Britney became extinct. Considering that this version of “modern selection” doesn’t actually involve death, she has since pumped a little life back into her career by creating a perfume line, and being a panelist on the show “X-Factor,” but nothing compared to the fame of her competitors.
The major difference between Natural Selection and the application of this theory that I have come up with in regards to the entertainment industry is the time frame. The “downward slide” that we saw in Britney’s career correlates to the decline in population of the inferior organisms (those that did not inherit the “useful” variation), which obviously would take multiple generations, as opposed to the few years that Britney went from fame to shame.
It may be too abstract to think that this attests to the shortening of attention spans and superficial understanding of Darwin that the general public has today, but I believe that there is a parallel in the sense that Darwin became famous by researching generations of animals his whole life, while now, as a whole, we are more fascinated by fleeting fame of L.A. residents. For example, in modern society, we are exposed to the concept of wildlife extinction most commonly through celebrities talking about it on television. Just as Natural Selection has more to do with the competition amongst species as opposed to external factors, “modern selection” is the same scramble for resources within the entertainment industry. As observers, we are demanding the celebrity with the variation that we deem to be the most admirable, and all of the coinciding celebrities get exiled to the land of no cameras, or in terms of Natural Selection, death.