It’s graduation season, and that means the internet is filled with celebrities giving commencement addresses with varying degrees of silliness. Maybe I didn’t pay attention to these sort of things before the age of YouTube, but this seems to have risen to the level of university marketing gimmick. Want some free press for your university? Invite some bombastic public figure to deliver an outrageous speech to the students.
Boom. Internet gold.
This year everyone from actor James Franco to Saturday Night Live comedian Andy Samberg helped conduct students from the campuses to the “real world” while the media fawned and tried to rate which celebrity gave the best address.
It’s as though spring commencement has become just another red carpet for the nation’s glitterati. Just another awards show.
This is how decadent the higher education industry has become. While students deal five-to-six digit levels of student loan debt, while they face tuition and fee rates that have grown at several times the rate of national household incomes which pays for degrees that are perhaps worth less than ever before, the “pomp and circumstance” of graduation has become less about the students than about which celebrity antics has drawn the most press.
It’s a perfect storm of the higher education bubble and America’s insatiable appetite for celebrity.
We’re still at the beginning of this trend, I think. There wasn’t a real appetite for this sort of stuff until there was internet video as a mechanism for distributing it, but I expect it will get worse before it gets better.
It won’t be far into the future when our nation’s students will be sent from college into the economy not with uplifting words from some accomplished alumnus of the university but with dick and fart jokes cracked by some reality television “star.”