Is our obsession with celebrity videos and culture going too far
Some people in society look up to celebrities so much that it could give them neck strain. From Hollywood actors, musicians and sports stars, people idolize them, following their every move and treating them as divine beings.
Of course there is big business to be made from the rich and famous. Websites and magazines such as TMZ.com, CelebritySequence.com and Perez Hilton have all captured our attention with their celebrity videos and gossip columns.
It is becoming common place for stories about celebrities to take the headlines over other world events. We often think that our celebrity culture has been a modern phenomenon, but as far back as ancient Rome and Greece, people idolised members of the royal family and other members of nobility.
It is quite normal for people to compare themselves to others, but has this celebrity culture gone too far, and do we all really want to see this ubiquitous coverage celebrity videos and photos.
One school of thought is that our desire for discovering the dirty secrets of celebrities is a form of escapism from our own lives – especially if scandal is involved, then it somehow makes us feel better about ourselves. The Germans even have a word for this – they call it ‘Schadenfreude’ – taking pleasure from another persons misfortune.
The most common reason people give behind the celebrity culture is the desire to one day be famous too. It’s easy to understand why people would want this. Walking down the red carpet, being the centre of attention while surrounded by envious admirers, private jets, getting free meals at top restaurants and being adorned in the most fashionable and glamorous clothes.
What about those celebrities that we follow, what is it like to live on the receiving end of all this attention? The price of fame can be high. They are paraded in front of the rest of the world, having every small detail about their appearance and behaviour analysed by complete strangers. Personal privacy seems to become off limits as the paparazzi follow them everywhere. While most of us at some time will have to deal with the criticism from our friends and family, celebrities must endure the accusations of tabloid newspapers and magazines.
So what does this all mean? James Houran, a psychologist with the Southern Illinois University School of Medicine says, “We as a society are becoming overly preoccupied with celebrities and the fantasy images it evokes”. After surveying over six hundred people, James Houran’s team of researchers identified a psychiatric condition they have called ‘celebrity worship syndrome’. It’s an unhealthy interest in the lives of the rich and famous. According to the researchers, about a third of us have it to some degree. James Houran goes on to say, “Celebrities are no longer people who have special talents and attributes”. “Many celebrities are simply marketing products.”
Anthropologist Francisco Gil-White from the University of Pennsylvania said “Humans, unlike other species, obtain most of their information about the world from other humans.” He goes on to say, “We were selected not only to rank successful individuals highly and to prefer them as models, but also to kiss up to them in order to make them prefer us as interactional partners.”