Celebrities are not your Gods!

We need more Celebrity Deathmatch, less tabloid gossip.America, please shut the fuck up about your celebrities once in a while.

Americans have a very intense relationship with famous people. Maybe it’s because one popular interpretation of the American dream is a person who comes from humble beginnings and goes on to live a life of celebrity. Maybe it’s because we’re plugged into television and the Internet for an unhealthy percentage of our lives. Whatever the reason, people in America seem to want to know absolutely every minute detail of a celebrity’s life. Moreover, they assume that the celebrities are hiding something dark and unseemly if they don’t give full disclosure about their private lives. When Tom Cruise and Katie Holmes opted not to allow the press to take pictures of their newborn child, magazines immediately began running headlines speculating that the infant had some sort of rare illness or deformity. In actuality, the kid’s parents probably just didn’t want their baby exposed to that world so soon after birth – the kid’s going to have a hard enough life as it is, considering who the parents are.

America loves relating to celebrities. Maybe we feel somehow more successful if we know that some athlete or movie star goes to MacDonald’s for a half-hour of intestinal torture just like we do. I’d like to think that our culture isn’t so pathetic that we don’t measure our success by what the clucking hens on The View think, but the evidence seems to suggest otherwise.

On the flip side, many Americans also derive an unhealthy joy out of seeing celebrities fall from grace. We’re like a bunch of social rubberneckers, slowing down to view the gory details when someone gets into an accident. For everyone who bitches about Paris Hilton and what a tramp she is, her little saga where she spent a few days in a minimum-security prison was one of the most-watched events on television. If people would stop paying attention to her, she’d stop being relevant. But for some reason, they can’t, no matter how much they complain about her.

People have unrealistically high expectations for celebrities. They expect them to be funny, intelligent, and charitable, while also being humble, responsible, and well-grounded despite the fact that they are essentially surrounded 24/7 by people who tell them that they’re better than everyone else. When it comes to movie stars, people expect them to be precisely match the modern expectations of beauty without having any cosmetic surgery. When it comes to athletes, they expect people to be superhumanly strong and fast without taking any performance-enhancing drugs. In short, people expect celebrities to be superheroes. As such, they are overly praised when they do something good and overly villainized when they do something bad.

Why are stars so messed up? Because they’re people, and people in general are pretty screwed up in the head. When a person is given a lot of money and a lot of influence, it tends to go to their head – especially when everybody treats them like gods. Just writing a decent song or saying a few lines in a movie doesn’t mean that someone is insightful enough to be a good politician or to tell scientists what’s really going on in the world. And yet stars do speak out on all manner of items they know nothing about, from politics to psychology. And, for some reason, the masses hold the opinion of someone who has a platinum record higher than someone who is a teacher, a political scientist, or a doctor. Think about how many books Oprah Winfrey can get sold by just slapping a sticker on the cover promoting it. There’s nothing to her that makes her opinion any more valuable than anyone else’s; she just has a truckload of money that she has put into her media personality.

Perhaps because people put celebrities on such a pedestal, there seems to be a morbid delight watching one fall. When Mel Gibson gets drunk and says something stupid, people don’t dismiss it as a stupid mistake. Instead, they brand him as a racist and a horrible person, when just a few years earlier he was a family man and an upstanding citizen. In actuality, people say and do stupid things all the time. But when an average person gets drunk or says something out of turn, there are no video cameras around to capture the event. If someone on a diet goes to a fast food joint, it’s a minor foible. If an actress does the same thing, she’s letting herself go and getting too fat (never mind the fact that she’s probably dangerously underweight).

Here’s a newsflash: the people you see in movies or hear on the radio are just people. They do a lot of things, both good and bad. Some of them as total whackos, and others are decent people. Unless you actually know the person, you don’t know anything about them but what their publicists present and a handful of pictures or video clips that get taken way out of context. Some of what you see might be the real person, but far too many people in America seem to think they know that person after one interview or through a few TV appearances. You simply can’t know anyone that you don’t meet in person. Even if you’ve seen them once or twice up close, there’s no reason to believe that a person is all good or all bad. In reality, almost everyone has good and bad sides. Money and fame accentuate those sides, making many celebrities even more bipolar than the rest of us.

Oh, and don’t bother telling yourself, “If I’m ever famous, I won’t act like that.” If you get millions of dollars, throngs of adoring fans, and a team of people who walk behind you telling you that your shit doesn’t stink, you’ll go right down that road. Who wouldn’t?

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One Response to “Celebrities are not your Gods!”

  1. And Queens are not gods either. What about British worship of these parasites?

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