Text Box: FMA 1202 Sem 3 – Cultural Evolution and Examples of Analysis: 
Wordsworth, Holmes, Ripley and Beyond

In this as in any cultural studies topic/course, it is all too easy to make sweeping and superficial analyses and claims.  In a way, it is an occupational hazard of the cultural historian/analyst: we are surrounded by and immersed in “culture” (which, depending on how we define it, could be anything – remember the structuralist project?), and it is difficult both to objectively and analytically penetrate beyond our lived culture, as well as to isolate (out of all this lived culture) cultural data for analysis.
	Whatever our emphases (narratological, archetypal/mythic, semiotic/visual – and our methodology could be multiple, plural), some basic things are essential: we need to give strong evidence, and use this to make a particular claim (that is not general or diffusive or obvious).
	In this seminar we are going to do more in-depth analysis of our core examples, and a few other contemporary ones, to see how to mount an argument in cultural analysis.  At the same time, because our examples are historically-separated and quite different from each other, this exercise will also give us a sense of the evolving nature of heroism and society. 

It may be funny to think of a writer who lived in the countryside with his sister, and didn’t do any real work but lived off an inheritance, as a hero.  But this unlikelihood provides all the more an insight into changing images of the hero, in an age of profound social change.

Wordsworth certainly saw himself as a kind of hero of the sensibilities or senses – the poet as hero.  In the 1800 “Preface” to the Lyrical Ballads, he describes the poet as “a man who being possessed of more than usual organic sensibility had also thought long and deeply.”  In the 1802 revised “Preface,” he added a long definition of the poet:

He is a man speaking to men: a man, it is true, endued with more lively sensibility, more enthusiasm and tenderness, who has a greater knowledge of human nature, and a more comprehensive soul, than are supposed to be common among mankind; a man pleased with his own passions and volitions, and who rejoices more than other men in the spirit of life that is in him; delighting to contemplate similar volitions and passions as manifested in the goings-on of the Universe, and habitually impelled to create them where he does not find them.  To these qualities he has added a disposition to be affected more than other men by absent things as if they were present…

This heroic and quasi-transcendent poet battles against “the triviality and meanness both of thought and language which some of my contemporaries have occasionally introduced into their metrical compositions.”  The poet’s object is “truth, not individual and local, but general and operative,” unlike the more particular and emotionally-“remote” truths that science uncovers; “poetry is the first and last of all knowledge: it is as immortal as the heart of man.”  So the poet is an artistic and intellectual hero, battling bad poetry, the failure of the imagination, the false ideas and thoughts common to modern life.

The Prelude: Wordsworth’s updated version of the epic, written in a time of rapid socio-economic change (1805, the aftermath of the French Revolution and the political turmoil it created in England, the war with Napoleonic France, the beginnings of the industrial revolution and changes in the country and the city; the poem was updated until the last version in 1850).  Whereas classical epics (Iliad, Odyssey, Orlando Furioso, even Milton’s Renaissance version Paradise Lost) dealt with big heroic themes (war, heroic adventure and struggle against the gods, heavenly battles), Wordsworth was writing a different kind of epic: not demi-gods but a man; not a mature respected figure, but a child (who grows into manhood – a kind of Bildungsroman, although that literally means “novel of growth” – Prelude is a kind of poetic version of the Bildungsroman.

How do we progress from heroes who are demi-gods, warriors, heavenly beings, manifest destiny individuals – to an ordinary boy-man with absolutely no martial qualities (arête)?  It has partly to do with Wordsworth’s own construction of himself as an artistic revolutionary, leading readers into a new era of poetry; and partly to do with a rapidly-changing society and the new concerns and themes of that society (which were very different from those of even 100 years ago, much less the martial-religious themes of Milton’s day, and even less so the arête-era of classical Greece).

Wordsworth’s hero was a hero of nature and the imagination, which is why size and strength didn’t matter, nor did social standing.  In fact, quite the opposite: the hitherto-lowly child became heroic because it was the antithesis of society’s values that had become discredited and suspect.  It was time for a radical change in values, and Wordsworth (through a combination of right timing and imagination) was at the forefront of creating a new symbol of the hero.  (He wasn’t the only one to do so, of course – the figure of the child, of a return to the truths of nature as an antithesis to a society increasingly seen as decaying, was evident in a number of poets and painters like J. M. W. Turner, George Robson, Blake, Young, Akenside, Goldsmith, and Wordsworth’s friend and contemporary Coleridge.  But none of these artists and writers invested so much, and put so much emphasis, on the heroic and epic quality of natural man.

One simple way Wordsworth did this was to consciously emphasise the heroic theme of his poem, to insist on its heroic qualities.  Hence the choice of the epic form, which was a very bold move – 13 whole books on “the growth of a poet’s mind” (the poem’s subtitle) could easily have flopped if not executed well.  The other way was to constantly compare his theme and poem to older heroic themes: e.g. Book I, lines 157-304 (I: 157-304): he mentions mythic themes (Odin, Mithridates), military heroes and freedom-fighters (the roman general Sertorius, William “Braveheart” Wallace), but finally suggests that he will find a better topic in “some philosophic song/Of Truth that cherishes our daily life” (I: 230-231) – fairly subtle at this point, he doesn’t come right out and say that this is a superior or loftier theme.  In fact, at this point he seems to concede a kind of imaginative exhaustion or defeat, and then turns to local nature (“O Derwent!”, “Cockermouth,” the “naked savage”), almost as a kind of personal solace, rather than explicitly set up as a heroic theme superior to demi-gods and arête.

But a hero is not only created because one styles oneself (or one’s theme/subject) heroic; there also needs to be a worthy cause.  Wordsworth seems to have struck a chord in creating a spiritual hero, a hero of the inner life/landscape, a champion of nature (an early form of environmental heroism?), against the stresses of contemporary education, city life, immorality, the narrow smallness of contemporary life.

		Wisdom and Spirit of the universe!
	Thou Soul that art the Eternity of Thought!
That giv’st to forms and images a breath
And everlasting motion! not in vain,
By day or star-light thus from my first dawn
Of Childhood dist Thou intertwine for me
The passions that build up our human Soul,
Not with the mean and vulgar works of Man
But with high objects, with enduring things
With life and nature, purifying thus
The elements of feeling and of thought,
And sanctifying, by such discipline
Both pain and fear, until we recognize
A grandeur in the beatings of the heart (I: 428-441)

Notice that while much of what the protagonist says might (in some other context) be subsumed by the label of a deity, he is careful not to mention god.  Would his heroic project be significantly affected if he had invoked a god?  Why is the “human Soul” spelt with a capital “S” – what’s the effect of this?  

See also his invocation of city life:

	The broad high-way appearance, as it strikes
On Strangers of all ages, the quick dance 
Of colours, lights and forms, the Babel din
The endless stream of men, and moving things (VII: 155-158)

How well does W capitalize on the contemporary social condition (which, as an earlier version of our modernity, has much in common with ours, but also much that is different)?  Would his heroic project, again, have been significantly/adversely affected if he had been less successful in this?  What role does poetry and rhetoric play in the creation of heroism (think of other famous rhetorical displays by heroes: Henry V’s “We few, we happy few,” Brutus’ “Friend, Romans, Countrymen,” Martin Luther King’s “I have a dream” speech).

Wordsworth may well show us that:
1.   The artist-as-hero may not be such a far-fetched prospect after all – something to do with the visionary quality
2.   This (as always) depends on the social context – something about modernity’s pace, moral paucity, money/business, which begs this
3.   The medium matters: W (like other poets, Shakespeare etc) uses words much the same way that people today use social media and film etc to move audiences.  The effective hero is also an effective story-teller?  (Or has an effective story-teller behind him/her)?
4.   “Nature” can be deployed as a very effective cause/justification for heroism, in our modern context

H is a very different kind of hero from W’s sensitive, spiritual poet-as-hero: H is physical, active, strong – he has qualities of the classical “heros” (preserver), protecting society from criminals, except that he is a highly unconventional version of it with his ultra-rationality, and also his darkness (a kind of extreme hamartia – addictions, inhuman coldness etc – that proves not to be a hamartia, because in this modern age as long as one’s professional performance is not compromised, one’s vices don’t really matter).
	Holmes might be seen as a hero invented for/by a scientific, technocratic, middle-class/capitalist society.  A classic hero in being a preserver/protector figure, larger/better than normal, saving society as a whole, his depiction also goes “deeper” than the surface, and shows that the hero may actually “preserve” society in more unconscious/ideological ways – as a scapegoat, sacrificial/exchange figure, an “underworld” figure?
	Holmes as hero of “order”: there is evidence from Doyle’s own medical background, and also from his own accounts that Holmes’ deductive method was based at least in part on Dr Joseph Bell, Doyle’s lecturer at the University of Edinburgh.  Deduction comes from Latin “ducere” (leading [from one thing to another]) – a logical process, emphasizing mind and the reason; but also a kind of myth of rationality, that life is clean/neat and amenable to logic (is this true?  Is H’s deductive method ever far-fetched?   Doyle has H himself concede that deduction is “the scientific use of the imagination”; despite such concessions, H is never seen to fail, his calculated guesses validating his method by always solving the case.  
	It is not just the deductive method, and the exaggerated (mythic) success-rate of H; he also exhibits a kind of encyclopedic (practical) knowledge: of types of ink, tobacco ash, ethnography, weapons, handwriting, anything else which may be necessary to solve his cases.  (Think of it as a kind of early version of google – the professionalism of encyclopedic knowledge and research, a kind of technological ideology).  All in all, Doyle is intent on creating a hero who not just embodies, but excels/exceeds, in the rationality and technology of his age – a kind of scientific/technological mythic figure.
	The sidekick figure of Watson is important, not just to record the cases (also in a kind of pseudo-scientific myth of accuracy – it is significant that W is a doctor, another scientific man), but also to represent the everyman and thus emphasise H’s superlative qualities.
	Finally, H is above all a figure of the professionalization of the police, a hero of a police age.  The latter half of the 19th C in England was an era which saw the rise of the modern professional police.  The modern metropolitan police force was formed by Prime Minister Sir Robert Peel (hence their nickname “Peelers”) in 1829.  Prior to that, the police was a very unregulated, mercenary force (the Bow Street Runners, and bounty-hunting “thief takers,” all of whom worked essentially on a commission basis, and whose honesty and reliability was often suspect).  The latter half of the 19th C was really the period which saw the rise of the modern professional police force as we know it today: uniformed (in procedure as well as outfits), organized, expanded (from 1,000 offiers initially, to around 13,000 by the end of the 19th C), quasi-objective in its service to the public.  Obviously there were still anxieties about the police (there still are, even today – instances of police brutality, inefficiency and corruption still fuel these anxieties).  The creation of H was thus both inspired by the increasing professionalization of the police, as well as a myth of the super-policeman meant to reassure the public and reinforce the ideal of policing/regulating society.
The Problem with Holmes: H shows us the contradictions and problems that begin to emerge with the modern hero.  (Other heroes have contrary or contradictory elements too, but they are probably a lot more evident with the rise of modern society).  We can approach an understanding of these problems by asking certain questions about Holmes:
1.   Why does Doyle depict him with such evident failings?  Not just the various addictions, but also the intense (almost megalomaniacal) professionalism, and also the coldly inhuman behavior – most evident in his treatment of Watson, but also in his championing of a “cold and unemotional” practice of deduction, his opposition to Watson’s marriage, his initial disregard for the “personal and painful” history of Watson’s brother, his occasional disregard for the safety of his own clients (e.g. Henry Baskerville in the Hound of the Baskervilles).
2.   Who is the “public” that H is supposed to serve and protect?  Who are his typical clients – is there a socio-economic range, or do they tend to be homogeneous/narrow?  How does Holmes make a living – who pays him, who is he responsible/accountable to?
3.   Why does it “take a thief to catch a thief”?  Why does H have this uncanny doubling of the villain in this and many other stories?  H often uses disguise and deception to catch the villain; he has characteristics in common with many of the villains he pursues, e.g. in “The Speckled Band” (strength), “Hound of the Baskervilles” (primitivism, ruthlessness), “Charles Augustus Milverton” (H turns burglar), etc.
	We might see the problem with H as an inherent problem of middle-class, capitalist society, and thus a problem of any hero created in/by that society.  H’s fear of boredom, his dark habits, his utter inhuman professionalism, may all reflect the dark reality of modern society (aren’t we all terrified of boredom, moving at a non-stop pace like a hamster on a wheel, working so hard we fear we don’t have a real life?).  H, interestingly (or unsurprisingly), works mostly for the middle-class, and works to protect a very middle-class English society – there is little sympathy for the plight of working-class people like Small, even though his story is in a way created by colonial and aristocratic/middle-class England.  And H’s uncanny mirroring/doubling of the villain may well reflect capitalist society’s deep-down fear that (as French leftist thinker Proudhon famously says) “property is theft,” and capitalists are essentially thieves whether or not we acknowledge it.  After all, where does the Agra treasure really come from?

The examples of Holmes perhaps shows us:
1.   The creation of an early version of the scientific/rational/technocratic hero in response to his age, and how powerful that aspect of modernity is (not just in shaping the hero, but in so much of our society)
2.   The importance of the sidekick figure in constructing the figure of the hero
3.   The pervasiveness/sustainability of the protector/preserver aspect of the “heros”
4.   The deeply problematic nature of the hero, whose underpinnings and deeper ideological/unconscious dimensions seem to contradict (or at least complicate) the surface/popular/positive connotations.

From Victorian detective/professional society, to contemporary (end-20th C) advanced capitalist/technocratic society.  Science fiction and horror make a difference, of course: Holmes was designed to entertain and reassure, while Ripley and the Alien movies were intended to entertain, but also to explore the ideological limits and problems of technology, to frighten and thrill audiences – there is more of a conscious attempt to explore issues and provoke thought, even within the entertainment factor.  Ripley as hero reflects the multiple issues that 4 SF movies will inevitably raise, and thus she is an evolving or multi-facted heroine: brave human protagonist struggling to survive technological danger in I (i.e. first movie, Alien); warrior (heros, but with a maternal bent) fighting the evil corporation and also a cruel biological fate/enemy in II; Christ-like sacrificial figure in III (and IV is called “Alien: Resurrection, which reinforced the Christ-sacrificial element); and post-human, hybrid, hero-villain mixture (echoes of the duality in Holmes) in IV. 
	The obvious starting point to understand Ripley as a hero is her gender – she is a remarkably strong woman, in fact a survivor and victor when many of her male companions (including hardened marines and convicts) die.  Her strength is not overtly physical like that of the women on American Gladiators or Demi Moore in GI Jane, although she is physically quite imposing (especially in III with the sleeveless and bald look), nor does it have to do with any special power like magic or deduction (although she does show some cunning and strategy) – it has more to do with her spiritual and emotional toughness, her will to survive and willingness to do whatever it takes to survive and destroy the alien.  This is most clearly seen in II, when she refuses to abandon the little girl Newt and goes back to confront the terrifying mother alien in order both to rescue Newt and try to end the procreation of the alien race; and also at the end of IV, when she acknowledges the bond between her and the alien hybrid-spawn (arising out of the cloning of Ripley’s DNA from the time on III when she was carrying an alien egg), but still chooses to destroy it (using her own now-acidic blood to crack open a port and suck the hybrid-spawn out into space).  
	In fact, gender, procreation and sexuality issues run throughout the 4 films, and it is impossible to talk about Ripley as hero without talking about these issues – the films use her to investigate the issues of gender and sexuality of our time.  The problem posed by the aliens is that they have such a violent and exploitative way of procreation, that invades and results in the death of the human host.  As several critics have pointed out, there are strong connotations of rape: the forcible insertion of a foreign body into one, the carrying and forced nurturing of an unwanted presence.  The film’s innovation (and SF twist) is that this can be done to men as well, so that they become associated with the passive and violated position normally associated with women.  Part of this gender-bending is Ripley’s own gendering: there is a strongly androgynous quality about her, not only in her inner toughness and strength, but deliberately in her lack of glamour (makeup), the work clothing (usually baggy drab space jumpsuits), and ultimately in III, the baldness.  This gender-bending is also reinforced in the female marine in II, who is seen displaying her impressive musculature doing chin-ups, and who physically out-performs many of her male counterparts.  
	Then there is the overt theme of mothering and nurturing: Ripley is characterized by a strong (and rather surprising) maternal instinct, that sees her trying to save the cat in I, the little girl Newt in II (and grieving for her in III), and sees her as actual (if cloned, or alien-inseminated) mother in III and IV.  This kind of emotional and moral maternalism – Ripley risks her own life to help those who are small, vulnerable and child-like, even if they have no real biological claim to her – is contrasted with alien reproduction and maternalism, which is just as strong (and much more violent – the alien mother is outraged when Ripley torches the eggs in II), but which is seen as mass-mechanical-biological, an unthinking imperative which has nothing moral or nurturing about it.  In IV, moral and biological maternalism come into conflict, when Ripley has to choose between the biological tie with the hybrid-spawn, and the morally-correct action and emotional loyalty to the human race – morality and emotional ties win out.
	The Alien franchise thus arguably exhibits a gendered agenda, not only overturning the chauvinism of male superiority, but also symbolically exploring the immorality of rape and blind procreational imperatives, and implicitly propagating an alternative ethos of moral/emotional maternalism and ties (including with the human race).  These gendered issues are inextricably bound to the figure of Ripley as hero – in fact, located within her very body, at times – and must be seen as central to the meaning of Ripley.
	A second, less central recurring theme, is what is often called the “military-industrial complex” – a big issue in America from the late 19th C onwards (and very much a part of U.S. society today).  In especially left-leaning American society and politics, there is a strong suspicion that the big spending and resources in the military and corporate worlds (and the two are often related – think of the internet, which started out as military-sponsored technology, or aeronautics, or satellites for communications but also for spying and airstrikes) form a kind of mass conspiracy which secretly or openly controls and constrains the life of ordinary people.  This is a common theme in SF, which is inherently a genre concerned with technological issues, and thus also with capitalism and its impact on human life.  In the Alien franchise, there is a recurring theme of corporate greed which wants to preserve the alien alive, and use is to create a powerful biological weapon.  Corporate greed is faceless (we seldom see the people involved, except in the corporate spy/representative in II), but also immoral and ruthless, putting the survival of the alien above human life.  If H is in his way a product of capitalist Victorian society – the creation of a mythic protector of property – so is Ripley, as a kind of champion against the late-capitalist evils of faceless greedy and oppressive corporations.  In a sense, the corporation is a bigger villain than the alien, or at least aligned with the alien against human life, human ties and moral decisions.
	 As we consider these themes together, we might also want to think of Ripley as a “post-human” hero.  “Post-humanism” is a kind of ideology or interest among certain communities who are fascinated with the possibilities offered to humanity by technology, especially bio-tech areas like cryogenics, DNA manipulation, cloning, biological enhancement (exo-enhancement, like the exo-suit Ripley uses to defeat the alien at the end of II, or endo-enhancements, like bionics and ultimately android technology).  It is generally a very positive outlook on human possibilities in a technological age.  Typical for an SF franchise, Ripley goes through several of these post-human processes, including cryogenics and cloning.  In the process, she does get stronger and is enabled to cheat the alien and death.  The form of the franchise too – with continual sequels when each time we think it’s over, especially at the end of III when we see Ripley conclusively die – is arguably a quintessentially post-human narrative form, since the continuation of the franchise, like Ripley’s resurrection and enhancements, depend on post-human biotech.
	Thus far we have considered Ripley as a hero constructed by (among other things) the gender, military-industrial and post-human concerns and interests of our age.  But as Holmes shows us, the hero is not only a mythic ideal of the age, s/he is also an often contradictory and ambivalent reflection of the very fears inherent in those ideals.
	What is the “problem” (if any) with Ripley, along the lines of the “problem” with Holmes?  Since this is a late version (late, late capitalist) of the same era (early capitalist) that produced Holmes, we would expect some of the same problematic characteristics in both: Ripley, like Holmes, is almost inhumanly aloof, perhaps by virtue of the kind of ruthlessness it takes to survive and beat the alien.  There are attempts to soften and humanize Ripley (the moral maternalism part), but these are rather bitty, even (possibly) unconvincing elements in the story – would the same person who faces up to the alien, and coldly sanitises all spaces and peoples infected with the alien eggs, stop to save a cat, a strange child?  Perhaps – but if so, it is an inexplicable thing, and Ripley’s character is enigmatic in a similar way to Holmes’.  Both are capitalist heroes in their ultimately individualistic, aloof and often inhuman qualities.  In fact, this inhuman quality in Ripley (which can be seen as the logical conclusion of H’s early-technological inhumanness – i.e. Ripley is what might happen to H, 200 years later) is reinforced by the post-human element in the franchise.  Certainly the late Ripley – the cloned one in IV – is a very strange creature, whose hold on her own humanity is highly tenuous.
Doubling of alien: like H, there is an uncanny doubling in Ripley, a sharing of certain qualities with her supposed opposite.  This is even suggested in her name, which connotes the same violent ripping that characterizes alien procreation and fighting.  Ripley’s violent maternalism also mirrors the alien mother’s: if the latter is intent on doing anything for the survival of her species, isn’t Ripley just as intent on destroying the aliens for the survival of her human species?  Beyond the obvious crude xenophobia evoked by the ugly strangeness of the aliens, what makes Ripley’s violent maternalism better than the alien mother’s?  This doubling comes to a head in IV, when Ripley becomes internally doubled, both human and alien, sympathetic to both races – while she obviously chooses the human side at the end when she kills the hybrid-spawn, it is a close call, and that closeness encourages the viewers to think long and hard about the human species, its own impulses towards imperialism, hatred and violence.
In this uneasy reading, we have to remind ourselves that contact with the alien species came about because of man’s own space-imperialism – an imperialism which is in fact funded and enabled by military-industrial resources and technology.  Ripley can distance herself morally from the corporation, but she begins as an employee of the corporation, and can only confront and defeat the aliens by using and suborning corporation resources and technology (to travel out there, to locate the aliens, to burn and crush them – actions unthinkable for a single woman, no matter how strong or resourceful).  And although it is hard to identify with the ugly, vicious and acid-blooded aliens, there is always a deep uneasy suggestion that morally-speaking, we are no better than them.  They have their own biological loyalty to each other, their own drive to survive, even as man does.  Man, at least in the form of the corporation, is perfectly willing to exploit and oppress the aliens for man’s own “benefit” (which is martial and violent).  As such, difficult as it may initially be, at least by the end of the series we are more prepared to see the aliens as a symbolic representation of the generic “other,” including other (human) races – e.g. African-Americans in white America, Latinos, illegal aliens, and other race-citizenship-class issues that have long plagued America (and other countries).  
Thus Ripley, like Holmes, shows us the essential ambivalence, the deeper tensions, within the modern hero.  (And maybe Ripley more so than Holmes, because she represents a later stage of modernity/capitalism).  The ambivalence, at the risk of over-simplification, can be tied to a simple ambivalence in modernity: do modernity’s so-called “advances” (technology, capitalism and corporations, the increasing professionalism and busy-ness of life, cultural/military expansion, post-human biotech etc) really “advance” us?  Is there something missing in all this?  What is the “cost” of our so-called progress – socially (tensions with other groups), economically (inequality and alienation), morally (ambivalence and problems), “spiritually” (emptiness, crisis), etc.  All of which raise the huge question: is the “hero” truly a “hero” (protector, preserver)?  Is the hero’s protecting/preserving work only confined to the surface/physical?  Does s/he only protect and preserve society as it is, warts and all, rather than showing us showing better/purer?  
To sum up, Ripley shows us:
1.   A similar technological bent (but even more so) than Holmes, and similar dehumanization etc.
2.   A similar deep moral anxiety, seen in ambivalence, doubling, unease
3.   Other cultural meanings derived/constructed from the age (especially issues of gender, procreation, violence/rights of the body, etc, peculiar to Ripley’s age but not Holmes’)

Hero-analysis and Popular Culture Texts
Our analysis of W, H and R show how a combination of elements/evidence – character-analysis, writer’s comments/views, reading the text/film in relation to contemporary social concerns, looking at the form/genre/media and how these may be meaningful – all allow us to make meaning out of the hero.  We also see that meaning need not be a simple and linear thing, but may also have contradictions, ambivalences, deeper meanings which are not always easy to define.  We need not feel obliged to simplify or condense meanings that are complex and even contradictory – but we can instead use those meanings to help us understand some of the contradictory impulses in modern society.
	We can apply these methods, and others, to other kinds of heroes – not necessarily those in literature or popular culture.  Other methods/factors for hero-analysis could include things like consumer/reader surveys; comparative analyses of particular elements (weapons; costumes; sidekicks); analyses of plot patterns (actions, events, endings etc).
	We can actually apply all these methods to others, even non-fictional heroes: how did Gandhi and Mandela answer the needs and desires of their society? (the construction of the “native” hero and the anti-colonial struggle; moral simplicity; non-violent endurance).  Are there “dark” elements to certain contemporary heroic figures (Lady Gaga?  Bill Gates?).  Why is this – is it arbitrary (probably not), or does it have something to do with contemporary society (probably