Celebrity worship, corporate pop-culture and the damage done
The drug trade in the United States is estimated to be worth over a hundred billion dollars a year, that figure nearly triples when you factor in alcohol. Both drugs and alcohol are a fairly inexpensive short-term forms of escapism, unless they are abused. I would argue that America’s fascination with celebrity worship can be just as damaging, if not more so, on a social level.
In the last few decades, America has taken to worshiping false idols, and I don’t just mean those found on American Idol. It has gotten so bad that a whole medical condition has been born from it; celebrity worship syndrome.
Celebrity worship starts early in life, even as children. As kids we fantasize about being G.I. Joe or the latest Disney Princess, a few years later as teenagers we shift from fantasy to reality by dressing like our favorite celebs in magazines and tabloids. In fact the entire fashion industry is largely about picking the right trends for the purpose of imitation.
It’s no surprise that by the time we hit our twenties, many of us are hooked and have lost any sense of individualism. When we base our looks, even our personalities, on other people, it’s easy to see how celebrity worship can get out of control fast.
We see rich people on television and think; boy, what I wouldn’t do to be like him or her. That is where the unhealthy addiction begins. People aspiring to be someone else rather than themselves simply because they are rich, famous and successful at a certain craft.
These days we worship certain people for no reason whatsoever. They are famous for being famous. The best example that sums up what I’m saying is Kim Kardashian’s Hollywood App.
Hollywood is a freemium game where people can spend real world money to buy in-game clothing, make-up and energy, all in an attempt to make the game’s Hollywood “A” list. Of course Kim is there to show you how to do it, step by step. From what I understand, the sex tape cheat is still pending.
The point I’m making is that people are now paying $700,000 a day to be famous in a private virtual world. Is that insane or what? Going broke to be virtually rich. Even poor people are spending large sums of cash to buy virtual clothing when they can barely clothe themselves. All to be a little closer to what Kim represents, and I don’t even know what that is.
This is just a thought, but perhaps the reason we’ve allowed our government and its corporate overlords to cut social programs, move our factories and pay us less is because we are too busy dreaming about someone else’s wealth and fame.
It’s like we’ve given up on ourselves, so we follow and idolize those who haven’t. Celebrities are just people, no different from anyone else. They aren’t special, they just found a particular line of work where people enjoy watching them perfect their craft, whether it’s acting, music or sports (or in Kim’s case nothing).
The root of the problem lies in our blind fascination with pop culture. A culture that is in large part created by corporations. When you generate popular culture around a product or person, success is guaranteed. It’s why we get hooked on bad reality television and terrible simplistic music.
Corporations invest vast sums of money in advertising, often using the same celebs we worship, in order to tell us what make-up and clothes to wear, what beer to drink, what television to watch, what music to listen to, etc. etc.
Not everyone buys into this corporate pop-culture non-sense, and not all pop-culture is created by corporations. Social media has allowed us to create our own pop-culture behind the scenes, but at the same time we follow trends more than ever and they are often dictated by celebrities on outlets like twitter. Celebrities like Kardashian who get paid $10,000 every time she promotes a product in 140 characters or less.
As a society, we need to stop finding escape through attention seeking celebrities who just capitalize monetarily on our obsession with them. It’s sad that more American’s can name the Three Stooges, a comedy act that hasn’t existed in 45 years, than the three branches of government.
We need to turn off Entertainment Tonight and turn our minds onto something a little more constructive or creative. Get involved in your community, write a blog, do whatever you want, just be sure to think for yourself.