The Religion of Celebrity

Celebrity Ideal has become a cult and the celebrities have become society’s transitory Gods. Believe me, I love watching entertainment news as much as the next person. I can admire how beautiful and poised they are. But the adoration of celebrity, and it’s subsequent blind following of whatever they preach is inherently dangerous.

Andy Warhol argued , as we all know, that everyone will have fifteen minutes to become famous. It is the highest aspiration, and we all receive the countless amount of videos which state on the perils of becoming famous.

I think , in order to discuss this, we need to deepen on the meaning of a celebrity. A celebrity, according to the dictionary is the following : Someone who is famous. That’s pretty much it. And what does it mean to be famous? That many more people know you.
So why, then, do we place such merit on celebrities? Why do we bow to their altar? Why do we treat them above mere human beings only to tear them apart when they make mistakes? Why do we believe that their opinions and what they stand for should be blindly imitated and followed? Why do we canonize them as saints when they die but mercilessly dissect and criticize them when they are alive?
If you think in terms of the ancient standards of religion, One of the definition is : . A cause, principle, or activity pursued with zeal or conscientious devotion
A celebrity ceases to become a human being, but becomes an activity by which we place our devotion. They are a way to escape the real world. They live lives we cannot possibly aspire to have. It is strange that a celebrity can easily preach about world hunger wearing gowns and jewelry and have a lifestyle so lavish that it could probably allow thousands of people to live for a year. But yet, this fragmented notion is what is expected for celebrities. They are expected to be glamorous, and to become somehow icons. Yet we know that all of this is a façade, a mere change in the lights which make them seem supernatural. Many of these celebrities do not even use their own name, they develop a Persona by which people can direct themselves to. They are coaxed into an image which is carefully constructed by a team of managers, PR people, producers, agents, stylists, writers,etc. It is hardly a wonder that they seem flawless and impeccable. They are built by a collective which specific notions in mind : To target people to consume, to believe a certain way, to adhere to a certain trend.
Nowadays, in the advent of Twitterati as a recent vogue article states, this is even more clear. Celebrities are coaxed to “twitter”to enhance their brand. Millions of people follow their everyday actions, even if usually it is not even themselves who twitter.
This creates a dichotomy where the celebration of self is taken to absurd heights. To be praised constantly everyday, to try to live up to these insane standards of perfection and reprimanded if you cannot can only lead to a dismantling of self.
Do not confuse this idea from that of the artist, which comes along with this. Celebrities today, can be anyone for even a short amount of time. With Youtube and social media , a new kind of fame has popped up. One where if you degrade yourself enough, you might just become famous.
But what fame means, is a notion of nothingness. Yet, in some ways, it is a misdirected wish for spirituality, for meaning. And who else but celebrities to allow us to dive into this notion? They are an emblem that the American Dream still exists, and attainable if you “work hard”.
There is another notion which worries me as well. That is, that we somehow believe that celebrities are experts in current events, politics ,etc. Because of their God-like status people share whatever their opinions are on anything. This is a quite an interesting notion. `
The Book Idiot America explore this notion from an interesting perspective. What it states is that one is seen as an expert, by default if someone is on television.

It is, of course, television that has enabled Idiot America to run riot within modern politics and all forms of public discourse. It’s not that there is less information on television that there once was. in fact, there is so much information that “fact “is now defined as something believed by so many people that television notices their belief, and truth is measured on how fervently they believe it. Just don’t be boring. And keep the ratings up, because Idiot America wants to be entertained. In the war on ability that is central to the rise of Idiot America, television is both the battlefield and the armory. “You don’t need to be credible to be on television”explains Keith Olbermann. “You don’t need to be authoritative. You don’t need to be informed. You don’t need to be honest. All these things we used to associate with what we do are no longer factors”.

He goes on to state that ones you are an expert, with or without expertise you appease a feeling or a fervent following. If you add on the instantaneous nature of internet celebrity and the advent of social media and a voracious desire to consume consume and you have an even more dangerous formula.

Why are we looking to celebrities to know what to believe in? How have they become experts in causes and the main tool to make charities work?

Why is fame and celebrity the ultimate goal for so many people? It is one thing to have a desire to be an artist, and to create but something far more narcissistic to one to be famous and to be praised. This means we externalize our own self worth based on what others perceive us to be. This model clearly does not work, as we see countless very tragic examples of celebrities having tragic ends when they are yanked from their pedestal.

Furthermore, placing such emphasis on the transitory beauty must have detrimental effects on body image and self esteem. Even the women themselves underwent a severe amount of surgery to look the way they do, and are constantly working out and trying to live up to this idea of perfection. If they are even slightly imperfect, their image gets plastered everywhere on this imperfection.

Ultimately, we must remember that Celebrities are just human beings who people might know a bit more. They are not experts in science, in causes, in the Answer. I am not criticizing celebrities, I am merely stating that our society has to stop worshiping at the altar of fame and try to seek more beneficial ways to grow as a community.

4 thoughts on “The Religion of Celebrity

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