Be cautious of coveting celebrities
Published: Thursday, March 14, 2013
Updated: Thursday, March 14, 2013 00:03
Society has a nauseating obsession with idolizing celebrities. What is it about these individuals that deeply fascinates the general public? What does it say about one’s own life if he or she spend the majority of it worshipping the life of another? Why did so many people around the world gather Monday night for three hours to watch Sean Lowe “find true love?”
For many people, celebrity interest can skyrocket past casual significance or fascination, and into obsession.
Whether it’s movie stars, professional athletes, famous writers or corrupt politicians, a portion of the media-consuming population thirsts to know every little detail about their favorite icon(s). For many, becoming consumed and constantly in touch with the lives of a famous person can be vicariously pleasurable and exceptionally satisfying.
This pseudo relationship can allow fans to identify with enjoyable characteristics of self they share with the celebrity. Such a connection is free of rejection or prejudice, inviting feelings of stability, perfection and euphoria. Unfortunately, this “parasocial” relationship is always emotionally one-sided and could result in the deterioration of the fan’s confidence over time. According to Time Magazine’s Alice Park, recent research indicates celebrity worship can decrease self-esteem due to endless admiration, which can quickly manifest feelings of envy, isolation and inadequacy.
Humans in omnipresent media are dolled up to be flawless objects of pure desire with heavy emphasis on sex appeal. Generally, most of these actors and actresses follow the same corporeal criteria: Ultra-thin waists, flawless facial features, smooth skin, radiant eyes and hair, while remaining foible free and anatomically proportionate and voluptuous. Characteristics like these put an insurmountable amount of pressure on young women and men to live up to a socially-accepted and media-perpetuated form of beauty.
What’s more? The media emphasizes stigmatized gender roles regarding personality, occupation, style and proper slang. Is the overall goal of media to create armies of robotic, glassy-eyed, pop-culture-conforming boys and girls who are too petrified to revolt because they fear peer rejection? It is exceedingly difficult for those who worship celebrities to break free from the culturally accepted and frequently practiced “norms” learned from media.
Dr. Stuart Fischoff a spokesman for the American Psychological Association and a professor of media psychology at UCLA believes the cult of the celebrity is biologically driven.
“What’s in our DNA, as a social animal, is the interest in looking at alpha males and females; the ones who are important in the pack,” Fischoff said. He further explains humans are sociologically programmed to “follow the leader,” allowing the Hollywood star system to have a biochemical choke hold on consumers.
Regardless of origination, the addictive features of celebrity glorification can lead to higher levels of absorption because of the never-ceasing need for validation of their fictional bond. This need can act as a slippery slope by strengthening the inaccurate beliefs regarding the relationship. Sadly, this can lead to highly dissociative behavior and emotional removal from meaningful, actual relationships of the star-stricken fan.
When people become immersed in false realities depicted through characters played by their favorite celebrities, it can be emotionally devastating if the stars’ off-screen lives aren’t parallel with the big screen. In other words, if an individual puts a celebrity on such a high pedestal and they fall from grace, it can cause someone to experience, or mimic, the supposed pain and heartbreak of the celebrity crush. This further applies to the dissociative characteristics star fixation can bring forth.
Granted, I understand everyone has certain artists, actors or other nationally-renowned talent they admire. However, allowing these feelings to overcome one’s life and become the influential driving point of one’s happiness is ridiculous, ludicrous and socially disadvantageous.
Let us not forget these idolized celebrities are just people. Although they may be packaged up rather nicely, the only thing that differentiates us is which side of the television screen we claim. Regardless of what their in-studio facades depict, they still experience relatively the same range of emotions as the rest of us. Heartbreak, happiness, failure, prosperity, nervousness, horniness, you name it. Nothing makes them invulnerable to the positive and negative experiences of a “normal person” or “one of us.”
Just because their profession receives an insurmountable amount of media attention doesn’t make it any more significant than our “unsung heroes” in the shadow of the limelight. Doctors, teachers, public service people, activists, engineers, chefs and many other vocations are just as meaningful as celebrities and are, honestly, more beneficial to our short- and long- term societal advancement.
These everyday heroes can be compared to the bread of a delicious sandwich. While many recognize the innards as the driving force behind taste and overall success, dependable and flavorful bread plays a crucial but disregarded role. Imagine if Ron Seymour — an instructor within the new media communications department — had a fan base as massive as Justin Bieber’s.
Please, continue to stimulate yourselves with films, music and your favorite erotic magazines as a means of release from daily life pressures. Properly gauging the material these vices have on your reality is the crucial component.
I urge you not to become engulfed. The life you possess is just as meaningful as those of the celebrities you covet.
Kyle Hart is a senior in psychology. The opinions expressed in his columns do not necessarily represent those of The Daily Barometer staff. Hart can be reached at email@example.com.