Column: The price of lame

By Eric Naing

How much does popularity cost? According to PartyBuddys.com, it’ll set you back anywhere from $350 to $1,200 a night. PartyBuddys is a service that provides its clients with “something they have never had, celebrity.” It will give you an entourage, a limo to ride in and instant access to nightclubs for a night and all it costs is a few hundred bucks (and maybe your self-respect).

According to founders James King and Jason Roefaro, PartyBuddys is an attempt to share their party skills with the hardworking people of America. “We’re fun and we know how to do it right,” says King. It’s comforting that their business plan is essentially “hey, we’re totally awesome. Why can’t we sell that?”

“We get them juiced,” said Roefaro. “Juice can get you a lot further th[an] money because you can’t buy your way ‘in,’ but you can juice your way in.” Well, that explains everything.

For details, visit their Web site www.partybuddys.com (the use of “partybuddys.com” instead of the grammatically correct “partybuddies.com” is most likely due to their being too cool for correct spelling and not because someone else probably owns the other domain name).

I personally think all this is a waste. If you want to see what it’s like being a rock star, just hang out with me for a night. Imagine the fun you’ll have riding around in my ’95 Maxima, waiting in line at any number of local bars and then giving up to go home and watch Waiting For Guffman for the 100th time. (Wait, what was that PartyBuddys Web site again?)

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    According to their mission statement, they decided that “it was time to put a price on fame.” PartyBuddys claims to do more than just sell popularity, they try and sell a celebrity lifestyle. This is exactly what is wrong with our culture. We are a society that treasures a person’s lifestyle instead of his or her accomplishments.

    But despite what even they may think, the good people at PartyBuddys are rather insignificant in terms of their cultural impact. The real problem rests in the Paris Hiltons of the world.

    This whole notion of celebrity culture seems to be reaching a breaking point. Want proof? Turn on the TV and watch channels such as VH1 and E!, all of which feature shows that do nothing but kiss up to worthless celebrities. Read magazines like Entertainment Weekly and People that feature such earth-shattering stories as “Terri Hatcher: A Star Is Reborn.” Even CNN deems it necessary to tell us about J-Lo’s latest exploits.

    And if all this makes me sound like some elitist culture snob, then so what? I don’t care about celebrities and neither should you. It doesn’t matter how many gold-plated butlers or diamond-encrusted toilets Britney Spears has, she’s still an untalented celebrity who really has only two voluptuous, protruding assets (I’m referring, of course, to her stage presence and singing voice).

    Recently, President Bush met with a single mother who has three children and works three jobs to get by. The president called her situation “fantastic” and “uniquely American.” Aside from the fact that the president seemed genuinely excited that someone would be in this horrible position, I actually agree with him. This woman should be admired. Our money should go to help her, not toward P. Diddy’s latest clothing line.

    I know this is nothing but idealistic ranting, but that’s all I can do. There really isn’t any grand solution to stop celebrity worship. If anything, we can only do small things to help. Skip the entertainment section of USA Today or stop watching VH1’s I Love Thirty-Two Minutes Ago. There are better uses of your time out there.

    PartyBuddys represents the worst of what we have become: a society that worships people who do little more than stand there and look pretty. And if you feel you absolutely must pay money to make friends, at least do it the old-fashioned way and join a frat or sorority.