The Courage and Bold Vision of a Millennial Celebrity

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by Reid Fitzsimons

Courage is rightly esteemed the first of human qualities because it is the quality which guarantees all others- Winston Churchill

Clothes and courage have much to do with each other- Sara Jeannette Duncan

Up until today I could have searched the recesses of my cultural knowledge and concluded there is a person named Blake Lively and associated the word celebrity with the name. For some reason I happened to notice a trending now headline stating, “Blake Lively Shuts Down Preserve.” My initial assumption was that this Blake Lively person is one of those PETA-type celebrities who pose nude under the banner of “I’d rather go naked than wear fur,” and had been operating some kind of animal rescue organization. Being tangentially simpatico as a philosophical vegetarian for over nine years, my first thought was it is kind of a shame- so many celebrities offer grandiose statements or make ridiculous symbolic gestures pertaining to the progressive cause of the moment, but here was one that actually did something. Sadly, in the realm of “say it isn’t so,” I discovered Preserve is a largely commercial website featuring the “Stories and Creations of Artisans.”

As noted, I had no real idea who this Blake Lively person is but this was resolved with a quick click to Wikipedia, which describes her as a 28-year-old actress, model, and celebrity homemaker. She is a full product of Hollywood, with parents and siblings all in the biz, so to speak. With little surprise to be had, I discovered she was involved in a youth-oriented Move-On.org pro-Obama ad in 2008, and in 2013 appeared a video clip to raise awareness of women’s issues or the like. Overall the biography of her young life, presumably wealthy, politically liberal, etc is so predictable as to be essentially pre-ordained. I don’t doubt she’s a perfectly nice person.

This story, the closing of the website www.preserve.us, is meaningless in the larger and smaller picture, but one thing this Blake Lively person was quoted as saying struck me as worthy of comment. Her stated reason (via a Washington Post story, of all things) for ending this venture was, “It’s not making a difference in people’s lives, whether superficially or in a meaningful way.” I’m not entirely sure what she means, but there is something to be said for admitting reality, or perhaps alternate reality. She further elaborated: “I never thought I would have the bravery to actually do that, to take the site dark and to say, ‘You know what? I haven’t created something that is as true and impactful as I know it can and will be.” It was her use of the word “bravery” that stood out. I’m certainly not the first to notice the diminishment of the concept of courage and bravery into meaninglessness, as evidenced by Bruce Jenner winning an award for courage for reasons a few steps shy of placing himself between the crazed gunman with the AK 47 and the schoolchildren. On second thought, I think we have achieved the total annulment of the idea of courage and bravery.

Do not feel the stabbing melancholy of terminal loss, however, because there may be a new website in the offering to fill this abyss. According to Ms. Lively, “Our goal has always been to touch millennials through storytelling, and the idea is to create a shoppable lifestyle. And that’s not to say to turn everything into commerce, but to make things easier: This is a thing that I created with my own two hands and this is how you can do it, or this is something that I found on my adventures and travels and this is how you can have it. It’s about creating a level of ease for the people who identify with us. We’ve focused in so much that it’s actually very simple, it’s very clean, it’s very direct.” It appears that a new lexicon has arisen. Not Newspeak per se, but some millennial-progressive-celebrity linguistic fusion. In older times we would term such statements nonsense, but such thought no longer favorably navigates the tide of history, we have been told. In post-modern America nothing could be more noble and make more sense than aspiring to provide millennial hipsters and fading wealthy baby boomers with a “shoppable lifestyle.”

A final admonishment not to despair- www.preserve.us will be on-line a while longer:

For the brave ladies manning (womanning?) the Occupy Wall Street barricades the defiant Rialto Roses Boyfriend Jeans for a bargain price of $495.

For the sensitive hipster gents try the Rigid Indigo Barton Slim Jeans, originally listed at $250 but now priced for the proletariat at $97.90.

For those carrying vital messages to the shakers of the Hillary Clinton campaign do it in style with the Rio Crossbody Bag, complete with premium Horween leather highlights (sorry PETA) for a must have price of $350. No classified documents, please.

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