You’re standing in line at the grocery store. To the right is a multitude of sugary, calorie-filled candies along with other random knick-knacks and items that speak to people’s more careless impulses. To the left, however, is something far more insidious— something that draws the attention, selling trashy thoughts and ideas even if you don’t make a purchase. I am of course referring to tabloid magazines.
From the covers, celebrities stare out at you, some airbrush-perfected, others in tears or looking bloated and near death, each surrounded by captions that bare their lives to the world. As a child, I would read these sensationalized headlines, even scanning through the articles with the most gripping titles. Back then, I knew there was something wrong with what I was doing; it felt voyeuristic and cheap, but adults indulged in this behavior, so I thought it was alright. Long before I took marketing classes in college, I figured out why they sold these magazines by the checkout lines rather than in their own section of the store. You see, most people intuitively feel the same way about tabloids and what they push as I did when I was a kid, but when they’re shoved in our faces, many of us can’t resist. This is where I want to begin my exploration into celebrity interest and worship— with the point that I believe most people already know, and have always known: that it’s bad for us and wrong. Sadly, it has gained a wider and wider acceptance as the age of information has allowed us as a society to explore the depths of our shallowness. And it’s not just actors I’m speaking of, but also models, musicians, sports stars, and especially people who are famous for no other reason than that they’re rich.
So what makes a celebrity so special that they’re worthy of our attention, thoughts, and time? I suppose many are considered to be extraordinary at their field of choice, such as acting, sports, or music, but in that case, why don’t we care as much about people in arenas outside of entertainment?
To me, I could hardly give less of a f#&$ about what most entertainers are like outside of their professions. I think it would be far more pertinent to know about the heads of our cities, states, and countries, or even our teachers, lawmakers/enforcers, or religious leaders. Instead, we hand celebrity status over to entertainers who often hold more sway concerning public opinion than experts or people with pertinent experience. Thus, I reject the claim that celebrities deserve such attention based upon their merit. It is being foisted on them for one reason: because they’re recognizable. Some jackass who plays a character in our favorite sitcom or a tongue-waggling musician in a popular video sadly shapes how people think they should live more than just about anyone else. I also believe people wrongly judge self-worth due to disjointed views on celebrities. Most people think that anyone who is famous must inherently be better than others (including themselves). The truth is, celebrity status, much like most positions of power, is gained more often than not largely due to luck, nepotism, and ass kissing than through actual work or talent.
Beyond that, regardless of how good they are at their (largely) unimportant entertainer professions, it says nothing about how they measure up in the actual important facets of character. I don’t care that some jock can hit a ball farther than other jocks— he’s probably still a dickhead in real life and beats his wife and kids every other Tuesday. Don’t tell me details about what an actor thinks politically— they’re probably a stuck-up asshole who’s been so spoon-fed they wouldn’t know real struggle or pain from their yearning to win some inconsequential award. Every click on their photos, every subscription to their Twitter feed, and every vapid conversation about their love life is just one more ball of saliva spat into the face of everyday, “common” people. My point is that just because someone is famous it doesn’t make them better than anyone else. If you can agree with that, then right away it makes focusing on most celebrities a waste of time. In fact, I find it hard to believe that anyone couldn’t find a better personal use for their time than dwelling on pop culture icons.
Aside from the gross disparity of wealth that the famous benefit from (another horrifyingly unfair topic I’ll cover in a future article), there are other reasons to tear down this system of inequity.
Think about it: Many of these celebrities didn’t start that way; they were once regular asshats like most people. In fact, when I think about it, of the types of people that I knew growing up that I would wish wealth, fame, and notoriety upon, most wouldn’t be entertainers. Let’s go through the list: As someone who has always had an interest in writing, I have known many aspiring actor/models and disliked about 90% of them. They tend to be vapid, conceited, attention-whoring, self-absorbed, little imps who throw tantrums when they don’t get what they want. I find it doubtful that this has only been my experience with people typically drawn to this craft. Does no one remember the theater kids from high school and college? You know, the gossipy, back-stabbing crowd who plotted and cloyed to get the attention they needed? Well, those are the same actors that people now worship and hang on their every word. Think about that. And how about sports stars? You remember the dumb, unfairly-advantaged jocks from high school and college. Most of them didn’t have to try as hard at academics so long as they kept playing on whatever team they were in. It’s common knowledge that schools care more about their athletic programs than scholastics because they make more money through them. Well, these privileged, nerd-punching, date-rapey meatheads are the same people getting cheered for on and off the field in their adulthood.
Lastly, there’s rock stars. I have had countless friends in bands and even managed a couple during high school and college. I can’t say I know this about female band members, but the number one reason I have seen guys get into or start a band is to impress girls.
Most guys are in bands to get blowjobs from stupid, star-struck girls who can’t help but be wowed by their pathetic local fame. Seriously, go to a local show in pretty much any town and watch how these egotistical “musicians” strut around trying to look cool and important and try not to laugh at the faces they make. The only reason it isn’t ridiculous to people is because we’re spoon-fed through cultural norms to accept it. Another tell-tale sign of what bulls*&$ musicians are is to watch music videos from past decades. The styles they display and the ways they act are so ridiculous it’s laughable. I have always found it funny how the latest generation laughs at the styles of the previous (retro fashion aside), never considering how stupid they themselves currently look.
Anyhow, if you think most of your favorite musicians got into it for a love of the music or whatever, you are likely fooling yourself. I’m not saying their focus doesn’t change at some point from “I’ve got to trick girls into thinking I’m special so I can get blowjobs” to “eh, now I want people to respect me, but I still want the blowjobs,” but in any case most of the musicians I’ve known have been fairly shitty human beings. Hell, I’ve always been a huge music fan, but years ago I stopped reading about the bands I like because so many of them were comprised of utter douchebags. Love the art, not the artist— that is pretty much my mantra when it comes to the arts. When I think back on the people from my past that I wish were revered, actors, sports stars, and musicians aren’t at the top of my list. I’m not saying all the people drawn to these professions are bad, and I do have several rare friends who stand out amongst the otherwise shallow, but the majority suck big-o-balls.
Celebrity interest has been around as long as newspapers and radio, but as stated, it is getting more and more grossly out of hand. Celebrity stalking is at an all-time high, court trials involving the famous now garner as much news coverage as a war, and there is even a new psychological condition called Celebrity Worship Syndrome where a person is insanely obsessed with the smallest details of their favorite celebs’ lives.
Within the last year or two, CNN has started an ongoing column about celebrities who have died that year entitled “People We Lost.” Who the hell are these people? I never met even one of them! And who do they mean by “we?” We as in all of humanity? I don’t want to be included in that; I don’t give a flying f&%$ about these dead entertainers! Really, I consider their list a slap in the face to anyone who did lose a loved one that year. You go through the list and you see some old actors or sports figures or whomever and it tells about their “important” lives; meanwhile, there’s nowhere on the list for your dead spouse, child, parent. They don’t go on the “People We Lost” list because they merely led normal lives. Seriously, F&#* THAT!! However, when looking to place culpability for this state of affairs, I don’t blame the media. The media is a business and they merely supply what people demand. I blame individuals: each and every person who supports this system.
I don’t think the decision to enable all of this is made consciously by most; it is just an unfortunate acceptance. Also, I believe that the poor connections many have with their real life friends and family cause them to see celebrities as people they seem to know in a similar way. These thoughts, however comforting in fantasy, need to be pushed to the side. No matter how often a celebrity appears in the news, you don’t really know them. On the other hand, people also think focusing on celebrities is necessary when a “star” has done something widely considered immoral or bad. This is just more of the usual mob mentality where people come together to lash out at a straw man, brought down to make everyone else feel superior.
I’m not attacking celebrities out of some misguided jealousy or because I think they’re all bad people— the sad fact is that fame is quite often a curse. Look at what celebrity status has done to so many in terms of their mental health.
Even more than being rich, having people constantly hanging on your every word and always in agreement will cause even the strongest minds to go strange. Without criticism, people tend to begin believing they are infallible, which results in them exploring every oddball notion and whim to a sick degree. Even worse is when public opinion inevitably turns against them; then they’re just a trapped bug under the microscope of mindless public judgment. I will give no example because I refuse to refer to any particular celebrity by name and because I think everyone can think of several who fit my description. Which leads me to my next point— no matter how much you don’t think it matters when you momentarily discuss celebrities, consider it this way: Every time you do such, it gives them power. Ignoring and refusing to contribute to celebrity commentary/gossip immediately steals all the fame and status from those who conduct misdeeds (like leaked sex tapes, infidelity, or drug abuse).
If everyone would stop talking about these things, many of the people involved would no longer have the means to continue their life of fortune in the limelight. I think similarly even when considering celebrities that aren’t hurting themselves or others. I don’t know them and all they do is entertain; why should I give them power and make them something special to me? Hell, and now there’s even a breed of celebrity who doesn’t even do anything at all—they’re just born rich and that’s enough. Surely, if a benevolent creator was ever going to wipe the slate clean, this would be one of the signs of the (necessary) end.
As stated earlier, I don’t blame celebrities or the media for this situation, I blame people individually. In effect, the only way we can change or stop celebrity worship is to one by one decide to alter our perspectives and interests. Furthermore, we ought to even consider who deserves to be a celebrity and why, assuming anyone should at all. Also, I’m not saying all current celebrities just need to be totally ignored, just the large majority of them. There are those who are actually doing/saying things captivating, interesting, and important enough to deserve some attention, but they are the rare exceptions. Also, some celebrities have led interesting lives that may be noteworthy in some ways, but that decision should be carefully made, rather than just falling into their cult of personality. I have been doing my part for many years— ignoring tabloids, rarely looking into my favorite actors/musicians, and walking away from conversations about celebrities, but I’d love to see this grow into an actual movement.
This article is my latest effort towards such ends. Don’t feel bad if you currently take an interest in celebrities, so did I before I wisely shamed it out of myself. It is now my goal to help every other person who needs the same sort of shaming until we’re no longer focused on such useless tripe. Imagine a world where the periodicals beside the checkout lane are either about significant local and global issues or purely for (non-gossipy) entertainment purposes. Someday, maybe kids who are bored and looking around the way I was can actually learn something important on the way out of a store instead of just getting the sense that the world is a terrible and f*&$ed up place.