What’s the deal with celebrities? Why are we so obsessed with celebrities? Why have we elevated people, and sometimes even animals (seriously), to this level of fame?
As technology grows and connects people of the world to one another, the spaces between us shrink. Now we know how the other side lives. Now we know what they look like.
But even before technology, celebrity culture existed, starting many hundreds of years ago. Athletes in Ancient Greece were welcomed home as heroes. They had songs and poems written in their honor, and received free food and gifts. Ancient Rome praised actors and gladiators, and Julius Caesar made a radical step in celebrity culture by putting his face on a coin instead of the usual depiction of battles and divine lineage.
Fast forward a few centuries, and it wasn’t about just who you were. It also was about the city you lived in. The creation of cultural hot spots became an important factor in the process of establishing fame. For example, powerful people in London and Paris strived to make those cities hubs of influence. They succeeded.
But if you couldn’t get yourself to one of those cities and you weren’t a “celebrity,” you didn’t really know what was going on—until mass print media made its debut. With the introduction of print media, gossip columns quickly became the most-read portion of newspapers. Was life so dull that people had to read about other peoples’ lives to entertain themselves? And they still do, even today.
Moving on to the second half of the twentieth century, television and popular music brought new forms of musical celebrity, epitomized by Elvis Presley and The Beatles. John Lennon is even quoted as saying, “We’re more popular than Jesus now.” (Excuse me while I roll my eyes).
Now in 2017, we still idolize musicians, actors, and athletes (and even people in the church). But we don’t spend as much time discussing the men and women who have actually affected/affect our lives or change others’. Why don’t we spend more time conversing about NASA scientists? They recently found a new solar system filled with planets that look like Earth and may support life! Or that Dalal Khario, a young Yazidi woman from northern Iraq, escaped ISIS and was presented with the international women’s rights award at the Human Rights Summit in Geneva?
If you are flabbergasted at how we have a celebrity in office today, I have to look you in the eyes and say, “Really?”
I think celebrity obsession is a detrimental virus in our culture. Until we remove this pedestal, which was created by the average person and capitalized on by people of power, we can pretty much assume our world is going to keep on rolling down that slope.
What do you think about celebrity culture?