Excepting perhaps in an art-history context.
One of my brother’s recent “improvements” to this blog is a site counter. (There it is, over on your right, under my profile.) Thanks to him, it is now possible to tell how many people have visited. And that’s not all. My brother can tell where you are and how long you stay, and in some cases he can tell where you were browsing before you got here.
So I am now aware that this blog is being read (or briefly glanced at) by people I do not know, in places I have never been. I am now aware, too, that a great many of them have come looking for pictures of Robert Mugabe to download. I wouldn’t have thought the Zimbabwean dictator to be a pin-up on the scale of David Beckham, but the numbers don’t lie. They also don’t explain: for better or worse, the site counter doesn’t tell me why you want to download pictures of Robert Mugabe. Really, I’m not sure I want to know. I’m not sure I want any of this information.
The mere mention of Mr. Beckham prompts the realization that, by the ingenious and cynical use of celebrity photographs, I could increase traffic on this site. It makes no difference that I am largely ignorant of Mr. Beckham and have absolutely nothing of interest to say about him; in the rough-and-tumble world of blogging, one must engage in all sorts of nefarious shenanigans. Now that I know that I have readers I’ve never met, won’t the temptation become strong to acquire more — and more — and more of them?
I hereby pledge to resist that temptation. You will never see a photograph of David Beckham — not in street clothes, not in his sporting uniform, not in his underwear — on this site. You will find neither Britney Spears nor Justin Timberlake here, not because they stopped dating years ago, and not because I want to talk about fresher, trendier personalities instead — but because I am upholding a principle. A sacred, inviolable, unyielding, unwavering, steadfast principle.
Another shirtless person I will not be writing about.
(Did you know “shirtless” is among the most frequently Googled words?)
Let me give you a few more examples. You’ll find neither Pamela Anderson and her extensive library of private sex tapes, nor Daniel Radcliffe and his photoshopped weenie, nor French pin-ups like M. Pokora, nor Maxim and Jenifer and their heart-breaking break-up, nor any of those people the mere mention of whose names result in a steady machine-gun fire of Google clicking, usually followed by dragging.
No! It is not for me, the trashy celebrity tattle, the panegyrics to the semi-talentless, the endless obsession with one-dimensional, mass-marketed pop-culture yahoos! (A word coined by Jonathan Swift, by the way.) My mind is on loftier subjects, such as Jonathan Swift, and so long as you’re on this blog, yours will be, too.
You there — in Indiana! Yes, you. Don’t think I don’t see you. I know you came to this page only because you Googled the name of teen idol Zac Efron. Well, the joke is on you. There’s not another word about him on this site. Ha! Not even a single reference to his much-publicized addiction to bronzing creams or his much-photographed abdomen. Ha! Ha! The rest of us, those who came here for my estimable opinions on Classical music and nineteenth-century French literature, we’re laughing at you now. Ha, again, I say! (And by the way, you should be ashamed of yourself. Does your mother know what you were looking at, three minutes ago?)
And for those of you — in Saskatchewan, I believe, and in South Carolina — who are at this moment accusing me of including all these names in an experiment to see whether my site counter goes up as a result — well, I will not dignify your claims with a response. Except perhaps to quote the rising Brazilian fashion model Miro Moreira, who once observed of the late Anna Nicole Smith, or possibly of the not-late Eva Longoria: “Life is chunky.”