Frank Furedi just published a piece in The Spectator. The full article is on his website, but here's a quote: "Deference to the authority of the celebrity, makeover guru or healer is underwritten by the decline in the influence of conventional forms of authority. That is why the frequently asserted claim that we live in an age characterised by the ‘death of deference’ bears little relationship to reality. Yes, it has become fashionable to treat traditional forms of authority — monarchy, church, parliament — with derision. Criticism of traditional institutions has become so prevalent that it bears all the hallmarks of classical conformism. Scientists, doctors and other professionals have also experienced an erosion of authority. But the diminishing influence of conventional authority has been paralleled by the rise of a new ‘alternative’ one. We don’t trust politicians but we have faith in the pronouncements of celebrities."
The content reminds me of an earlier posting related to the film 'What the Bleep Do we Know?', though it does seem to follow this emerging thread on the public intellectual as celebrity.