IS OUR NEW RELIGION FAME, AND CELEBRITIES OUR ‘GODS’?
Are Hollywood news or gossip shows like Entertainment Tonight , Extra , The Insider , and Access Hollywood among the TV programs you regularly watch? Have you ever felt almost giddy with anticipation while standing in line for tickets to the newest movie featuring your favorite actor or actress? Do you enjoy the parade of A-Listers walking down the red carpet prior to the Oscar, Emmy, and Tony award ceremonies? If you answered yes to any of these questions, then you share with most Americans an appreciation for (if not a fascination with) celebrities. We love our stars! Who can blame us? They’re talented, successful, famous, often beautiful/handsome, and on occasion, even inspirational. And the lives they lead are exciting, to say the least. When we focus on such individuals, it ‘makes a great getaway from the normal world known as everyday life.’ ( Abanes 10 ).
Celebrities have something about them that is so intriguing, natural and original. We will be drawn to them no matter what and we as a society are becoming overly preoccupied with celebrities. The media’s portrayal of celebrity life as that of glamour and success results in an infectious desire to achieve a position in the exclusive group of elites. We buy gym memberships and hire personal trainers in hopes of acquiring the celebrated abs of Brad Pitt, or the slim ‘figure eight’ of Beyonce. We strive to find affordable replicas of the ridiculously priced designer clothing celebrities flaunt, and drool over the mansions they call home when they’re not on exotic vacations or at movie premieres.
Celebrity-icons are objects of worship. Social observers and the lay public alike speak of the ‘real hunger’ they experience for celebrity images and information; their ‘insatiable appetite’; of how the extraordinary expansion of print, digital, and television celebrity coverage has provided an ‘opportunity to indulge’, to finally ‘state the desire for celebrity news and gossip’. Celebrity-icons are transitional objects for adults, mediating between internal and external reality, between the deepest emotional needs and contingent possibilities for their satisfaction.Yet, while saturated with emotion, the celebrity object carries a thoroughly cultural effect. The magnetic attraction of its material-aesthetic surface allows its depth-significance to be subjectified, to be taken into the heart and flesh. Worshippers describe this introjection process as if the celebrity-icon actually becomes part of their internal self. ( Alexander ).
Our culture is awash in celebrity buzz; drowning in it. For example, while newspaper circulation has dropped, subscriptions for celebrity-news magazines have increased. It’s also become the latest rage to have celebrity-brand products: clothing, cosmetics, luggage, toiletries, fragrances . . . you name it. And the nightly TV lineup is chock-full of “News Updates,” “Special Reports,” and “Inside Exclusives” about the wild antics or good deeds, tragic downfalls or rising popularity, ongoing crackups or latest “recovery”, and newest loves or dying romances of our beloved stars. For most of us, reading a juicy tabloid story about Tom Cruise, or collecting autographs of various celebrities can not only be an enjoyable pastime, but can also create some good topics of conversation to bring up with co-workers, family, friends, or online pals. Interestingly, some people are so taken with celebrities that psychologists have diagnosed a new psychological malady Celebrity Worship Syndrome. ( Abanes 10 ).
Celebrity Worship refers to a normal degree of interest in the life of a favorite celebrity. It is manifested by, for example, a desire to...
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