Why have we shoved all today’s accomplished people onto the back burner? Yes, we have Adele, but I am looking beyond the popular-music realm to the broad areas of accomplishment alluded to above and asking where, fer chrissakes, are the glamorous neurophysicists? Where are the charismatic, overachieving innovators and inventors? Steve Jobs? A unicorn! A lone example. You are going to have to do better than that if you wish to upend my hypothesis.
After extensive conversations with my inner Bertrand Russell, I have, of course, come up with a theory about the origins of this dire situation. Et voilà!:
We are living in an everyone-is-special-and-there-are-no-losers society. As a result, we are fearful of accomplished people because they can do stuff that we cannot do, and giving them the spotlight would un-level the playing field. We are, as a result, much more comfortable with the famous-for-nothing paradigm, because then, we, the great unexceptional masses, still have shot at celebrity.
P.S.: The one exception in this situation appears to be sports stars. Today athletic prowess seems to be more celebrated than ever. However in order to be really, really, really über-celebrated even a big-name dude needs to attach himself to an audacious woman with an impressive rack.