Posted in: Arts & Entertainment, December 2010
Diane Qi, Arts & Entertainment Journalist
One of the strongest influences in the lives of many North American teenagers is celebrity culture. Tabloids such as people, and TV shows like e-talk and TMZ fuel our appetite for details about the personal lives of celebrities, while the style statements lauded by pop stars determine trends in fashion and beauty. But, the truth is that this carefully nurtured fascination with celebrity gossip can often play a destructive role in our lives. Growing up in a media-dominated world, we can’t help but to feel the effects of this constructed reality. Fashion and advertising industries intentionally encourage feelings of inadequacy, and, surrounded by images attractive, airbrushed people, it’s easy to loose sight of one’s sense of self-worth. This problem is only compounded by our interest in celebrity culture. But where does this obsession with the lives of the rich and famous come from? Perhaps, celebrity antics merely fulfill a desire for entertainment. Tabloid stories and reality TV shows tap into a deeply engrained fascination with the shocking and outrageous. But, we should not ignore the fact that, for many teenagers, an interest in celebrity culture coincides with an aspiration to resemble celebrity icons. Even as children we are encouraged to fantasize about our future careers as movie stars. After all, most of us desire respect and admiration, and those who seem to be receiving just this are well-positioned to become the icons of our inspiration. However, while it’s certainly fun to imitate one’s favourite actor, to gasp over the latest celebrity scandal, or to be inspired by the wardrobe of one’s favourite singer, we cannot afford to forget that, ultimately, celebrities aren’t much different from ordinary human beings. //////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////// The Impact Celebrities Have on Our Lives
People often ask me why I use celebrity examples to illustrate my work. Well, look around you. The truth is that we are obsessed with celebrities. Head to the checkout line at a grocery store and you’ll see all the magazines, each trying to have the most salacious story on the cover to gain your attention so that you’ll spend your hard-earned dollar buying it. For many people, not a day goes by when they don’t sneak a peek at their favorite celebrity gossip website. Sites like TMZ.com and PerezHilton.com are some of the hottest websites online, garnering millions of hits a day.
I use celebrities as examples because they act as good reflections for us. When Larry King has a heart attack and tells his audience how it prompted him to stop smoking, he inspires. Same for Michael J. Fox for Parkinson’s and Montel Williams for MS. When Teri Hatcher reveals that her uncle sexually abused her, it makes it easier for us to admit that it happened to us as well. When Britney Spears is brought to the hospital and evaluated for bipolar disorder, we feel differently about our own depression. When another politician is caught having sex with someone not his spouse and tries to squirm out of it, we see our own reluctance to reveal our own secrets. So the impact of celebrities can be positive as well as negative.
We often relate to celebrities more easily than to our own friends and neighbors. They have become the glue of our social fabric. We no longer stop in the village square or at the communal well to connect to each other. Instead, we use celebrities to feel connected. What would we talk about around the water cooler at work if not about the latest antics of Steve Carrell in The Office? How could we carry on a conversaton with our mother-in-law if not about our favorite celebrity on...