The tortured souls they must be.
I happened to see some pictures from Miley Cyrus’ MTV performance (No, I didn’t watch the show), and my immediate thoughts were, “What kind of freakish person is this?” This is what America celebrates? Yes, but not exactly.
Celebrity comes from the Latin root cele- meaning ‘honor’. Honor is bestowed on many individuals in American culture for a variety of reasons. We honor sports stars for their athletic accomplishments that the common sports aficionado could not replicate. We honor actors who are able to make us laugh or cry, connecting with our emotions and sensibilities as humans. We honor beauty which is beyond ordinary. A model is honored merely for her physical assets, and, once gone, is remembered only for how she used to be. We honor musicians, who have the ability to move us with their music, vocalists who can stretch multiple octaves into a spell-binding routine, and politicians who wield power and authority we could never grasp in our hands. We honor business innovators, who break molds and revolutionize society into their own image.
Why do we honor such individuals as these? Why do we have celebrity?
Celebrity serves as a fantastical, entertainment function in our lives. We’ve all seen the individuals who live vicariously through the minute-by-minute twitter posts of their flavor of the day.
Americans have disposable income, some more than others, of course. But all of us put out money down at the feet of celebrity in one way or another; But what do we want in return?
Joy? Oftentimes enjoyment does come from a sporting event, a blockbuster movie, or a gossip column.
Hope? Do we often hope that one day that could be us? And if not, can we just pretend for a minute? Can we not at least savor the thought that something we would do would last a tad longer than our life itself?
Diversion? Are our lives so bored and mediocre that a little glimpse into the ‘good life’ is enough to satisfy our cravings for another day?
Loyalty? Did you ever follow someone so far off the cliff just because you felt trust and loyalty between subject and follower? For example, how many bad musical albums have you purchased simply because you were loyal to the band or singer? (I’m sure you’ve heard a bad song by a well known artist and realized that this song would never have made the light of day if it wasn’t connected to a ‘brand name.’)
Celebrity is to be admired when handled graciously; but it should be greatly pitied when the gift that elevated the person to a position of societal honor becomes a mockery to the societal norms which gave rise to celebrity in the first place.
I pity celebrity. I have nothing against Justin Beiber. Actually, I don’t even think I’ve ever heard one of his songs from start to finish. But its funny how the name itself has become a joke for many people. I hear it all the time. People cringe at the name Justin Beiber – not taking him seriously – showing disdain and hatred for the mere sound of his name. Who would want that?
I can’t imagine the pressure and the image which must constantly be created for someone like Miley Cyrus. I’m sure she was told, ‘Don’t worry, there’s no such thing as bad publicity.’
I’m sorry, but that’s not true. I feel bad for her. For whatever reason, she has chosen to present herself in a certain image, and that is certainly her right. I must commend her for the attention she brought to herself. I must assume that that was the point.
But I feel bad that someone has to look at themselves in the mirror dressed that way and are told constantly that they are beautiful and cutting edge and on-top of the world. They are told that they can be themselves and break the mold, but by doing so, they often only reinforce the same old worn-out stereotypes of celebrity that American has been retreading for the last fifty years. They are caught in a cycle of image – self-image – but not created by self. They often become the ones left on the outside of normality, a subject to be pitied, not revered.
What a shallow hole celebrities must find themselves in. It’s only natural that drugs and self-destruction follow after so many of them.
Celebrity is not bad. Bestowing honor on others can be a positive things for society. It galvanizes people together and it can show the very best of humanity.
But unfortunately, more often than not, celebrity shows the hollowness that humankind tries to fill with vanity, self-gratification, and self-worth.
Ecclesiastes 1:1 “Vanity of vanities! All is vanity.”