Vital Signs

Cheap Thrills

Recently, the New York Times ran an article that described, at some length, California's latest tourist attraction, a "theme park and dinner theater" called Tinseltown Studios. Located, appropriately, just a stone's throw from Disneyland, Tinseltown is a $15 million complex that exists for the purpose of "simulating fame." Purchase your $45 ticket ("designed to look like exclusive gala invitations"), and the following encounter with simulated fame awaits: You "walk to a large grated door, which opens to reveal a red carpet and banks of klieg lights." A throng of teenagers descends on you waving autograph pads, followed by paparazzi setting off flash bulbs in your face, reporters brandishing note pads, and television crews stopping you for interviews.

And that's only the beginning. At dinner (choice of steak or salmon entree, drinks extra), you will watch a video reprise of your "red carpet interview," see yourself magically edited into a famous movie such as Psycho (in this context, a quite appropriate choice), then participate in the event's climax: a "faux awards show" honoring the evening's best "actor" and "actress," an honor that you, having paid $45 for faux fame, are in reality (if that concept has any meaning here) dearly hoping to simulate.

The New York Times described Tinseltown as a vehicle...

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