Back in early August, there was a furor over the rights to publishing the first photographs of the newborn twins of Angelina Jolie and Brad Pitt (Vivienne Marcheline and Knox Leon Jolie-Pitt, in case you’re interested). The UK’s Hello! and North America’s People paid an estimated combined $15 to $20 million (nevermind that the proceeds went to the Jolie-Pitt Foundation, dedicated to providing aid for humanitarian crises around the world). The madness was much commented on even in the mainstream media, almost as if biting the hand that feeds only discover that it’s one’s own hand.

I couldn’t have cared less about the photographs themselves, but the whole brouhaha registered in my midconscious (that’s what I call the back of the mind: not subconscious and not actively being thought about; another submission to the lexicographic powers-that-be is probably necessary). The thing festered and fermented and finally emerged as the question (with apologies to Thurber and White): Are Celebrities Necessary?