Celebrities – What have they done to our culture?

As I type this, I’m sitting on my couch, watching the American Music Awards and can’t help but question the affect celebrities have on society. Through (or due to) the buffoonery I’ve been watching for the last two hours, I can’t help but ask myself what’s going on in our culture. I’m so enthralled in the aspect of celebrity culture. It’s not that I’m necessarily interested in the life of celebrities, because I’m not. Rather, what is it about them that we find so appealing? And how did this enthrallment with them happen?

I think the largest culprit of celeb culture is the internet. It has leveraged the gap between celebrity and average joe, and made it possible for people to feel closer to their favorite stars. As the power of the internet grew, it hurt traditional media: broadcast, radio, newspapers and magazines. So, when people started going online for news, old media had to keep up by a) going online and b) provide a 24/7 stream of news. When it comes to celebrity media, magazines that published monthly had no choice but to start publishing weekly in order to keep up with online. Granted, People never went weekly, but I think that worked out in the magazine’s favor. In my opinion, People’s deadline gives it time for proper fact checking in its stories (making it more reputable and respected,) whereas the weeklies rely on hearsay.

The proliferation of celebrity news, driven by the power and demand of the internet, had created an influx in celebrity news of all kinds (fashion, gossip, careers) that’s obviously still very present. Couple that with growth of social media, and we actually were able to get a glimpse into the lives of celebrities. So what did this do to us? Well, for most, it’s made us almost reliant on celebrity culture and news. Sure, you might not pick up Us or watch E! News, but you probably follow at least one celebrity on Twitter or Instagram. We look to celebrities for more than what their careers gives us. Instead of just admiring Taylor Swift for her killer lyrics and down-right talent for writing a catchy tune, we watch the media to see what she wears, how she feels about *ahem – an ex-boyfriend or two* and even which spots she goes to on a Friday night.

I think this leads us to feeling unfilled with our lives, especially for those who have grown up on and rely on social media. The easy access to celebrities allows us to consciously and subconsciously compare ourselves to them. Teens especially, will see their favorite stars and, when looking at their lives, will feel unsatisfied with their own. I wouldn’t be surprised if this had a connection with the rise in depression and body dissatisfaction rates among girls in America. So if that’s the case, what do we do? What do we do to stop it? Personally, I really don’t know. But I do know that it makes me a little uncomfortable to live in a society whose citizens tweeted more about Miley Cyrus’s VMA performance than they did about Syria. 

Until next time,

X.

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