Is Celebrity Obsession Destroying Our
Is our fixation on the famous an escape from our lives?
The pedestal on which we have put movie stars, sports figures, and famous people could give some people neck strain. We idolize them, follow their every move, and treat them as modern gods. There is a giant media subculture around the cult of personality. Gossip and news about the rich and famous is big business. Magazines like People and Us Weekly, TV shows like Access Hollywood and Entertainment Tonight, and a long list of blogs such as Gossip Girl, TMZ.Com, and Perez Hilton have captured our imagination. More specifically, the celebrities on which they report have. These days, there are more celebrity magazines than real news mags in the United States. Simply go to a grocery store to see how obsessed America is with our neo-royalty.
In our culture, celebrity news often takes the headlines above world events. We build them up as modern gods, and tear them down when they show us they are all too human. They make an easy object of obsession, as celebrities are ubiquitous. And the paparazzi have helped this craze by blurring the line between private citizens and public persona. When Princess Diana died, it was in a high speed getaway to escape reporter/stalkers. French courts ruled that photographers were not responsible for her death, but it clearly drives home the point: Our obsession with the rich and famous has a cost on us, and on them. Fascination with the famous seems to be a human phenomenon that goes as far back as recorded history. In ancient Greece and Rome, people created their gods as very human-like beings, complete with character flaws and drama. Through the Middle Ages, the celebrities were royalty and nobility. When Madame Tussaud opened her wax museum in 1835, it was a huge hit, with people lining up simply to look at the visages of famous people. Humans are captivated by those they see as glamorous. We build up myths about humanized images, or people, and then observe their every move, looking to expose every shred of humanity inside them.
Many studies have been done on the obsession people have with celebrities, and some interesting conclusions are bubbling up. There is even a name for the affliction, "Celebrity Worship Syndrome". In our modern culture, celebrities are like gods, and the issue of fame, hero worship, and voyeuristic tendencies to watch their lives is a fascinating, if still lightly explored, subject. It is perfectly human to compare ourselves to others, and modern celebrity worship is the perfect forum for this behavior.
Consumption of media is no small activity in the U.S., and TV, movies, and the Internet are dominant fixtures in our lives. Celebrities come into our homes regularly, and share parts of our lives with us. They are often with us at dinner, talking to us in the background of our home lives, and sometimes they tuck us in as we drift off to sleep. When they take on such a powerful role in daily life, we feel connected to them, and thus we want to know about their lives in the same way we would a close friend. We begin to relate to them as friends, even though we have never met them.
There's a circular logic to the cult of personality. It has become hard to tell if the media is simply giving us what we want, or if we are blindly consuming the information they give us. Search engine rankings consistently show celebrities near the top of the list of top search
terms. We are clearly obsessed with famous people. There's a real escapism to it. Instead of the world of inflation, job losses and rising debt, we can turn our attention to someone else, often to feel better about ourselves in the process.
Schadenfreude is defined as pleasure taken from observing the misery of another. We follow the trials and tribulations of the rich and famous as they fall from grace, sometimes hoping they overcome, and more often casting judgment upon them, measuring our own lives against...
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