Licitra: The celebrity obsession

Celebrities like Paris Hilton shouldn't be the subject of our adoration. - Photo from Flickr

I was never a big fan of getting the news by watching on TV.

Usually, my preference is to read an article online or in the newspaper in order to stay informed about day to day events, which is why I have notifications on my phone to regularly alert me about an article that may be of interest to me. Based on my search history, my typical feed consists of news regarding movies, video games, and other similar entertainment pieces.

But one topic manages to continually seep in there: celebrity gossip. Most of the time I ignore it, but lately it seems to have taken my lack of interest personally by redoubling its efforts. Eventually, I took the bait and decided to read one. What I found most interesting was not the content of the article, but the comments beneath it, people raving and arguing about the lives of these celebrities.

So I followed it up and checked out a few more online reports and found more of the same; rappers, reality TV stars, foreign pop singers, all attracting a massive number of ravenous followers that pledge a kind of undying oath to these famous people. 

Celebrity crushes are nothing new. In fact, I’m sure everyone has at least one star they dream of meeting in person, and there’s nothing wrong with that! The situation becomes an issue when that excitement becomes an obsession, when being a fan isn’t enough and that blind dedication drives people to new lengths. In this time where social media and the news are almost identical, everyday people are finding it much easier to attach themselves to these idols. 

Never before have people been able to connect with these stars as closely as they are now. At the press of a button, they can go on Twitter and see their favorite celebrity’s thoughts, or pull up Instagram to get a quick shot of their idol’s latest vacation photos. Nowadays, you don’t have to seek out morally questionable tabloids in order to get your Hollywood fix; it’s right there in the palm of your hand.

All of this might be more dangerous than the public realizes. 

This new level of interactivity has an effect on both sides of the equation. With the desire for immediate levels of attention, and as much exposure as  possible, famous people have become more than just figureheads of their industry. They now feel comfortable spreading their opinions on important topics like politics and current events. In theory, there is nothing wrong with this; having fame doesn’t mean you have to rescind your right to voice an opinion. The issue comes from fans who take these ideas as fact. 

The words of superstars has more weight than most people realize. Celebrities are able to shape the minds of the public however they choose, swaying them one way or another.

For instance, there was a popular video that was released in the midst of the 2016 American presidential election that featured a slew of renowned and respected actors, including Robert Downey Jr., Mark Ruffalo, Leslie Odom Jr., and Scarlett Johansson that spoke out against one of the nominees. The idea behind their appeal was to use their star power to convince more people to come onto their side. But in reality, we have no way of knowing how educated any of these individuals are on the issues they discussed. We know only that they desire a singular outcome and are willing to make a public plea for the people’s support in making it happen. 

This habit individuals have of putting all their faith in the ideas of celebrities is massively damaging and needs to be put to a close. There’s nothing wrong with being a fan and enjoying a performer’s work, and getting a glimpse into their private lives through social media is an added bonus thanks to technology friendly world we currently live in. But they are just people, they can be wrong or misinformed and, more often than not, they’re not as enlightened as they seem to be.

Instead of glorifying them and putting them on a pedestal where they can do no wrong, so what they say has to be right, form your own ideas. Make sure that when you believe something, it’s because you truly believe it, and not because some big movie star told you it was the right and only way to think. 

For comments/questions about this story, email or tweet @TheWhitOnline.