“ In the twenty-first century, the world truly has become a stage, with the constant presence of cameras recording virtually every aspects of our lives” (Gales, 2010,1). Nowadays, our lives revolve around fame and the celebrity culture. In fact, being famous is a target hunted by an enormously large portion of the population. If you think about it, who wouldn’t want to be insanely rich? Who wouldn’t want to be the center of attention? We have this idea that being famous is having an idyllic life in which you get whatever you want, you go wherever you want and see whoever you feel like seeing.
Put in other words, for us “originals” or should I say “non-famous” people, being famous is like the seventh heaven, a joyful and fulfilled life, a blessing. Moreover, with the mass development of media technology, the celebrity culture is now being easily widespread. One simple click on a button of a remote control or a computer is all it takes to notice that celebrity news and gossip is everywhere.
For the public, the lives of the “Rich and Famous” is a form of entertainment and ongoing amusement.
Nevertheless, we fail to see that “celebrity culture drowns out public discourse and encourages materialism and self-absorption”(Hedges, 2011, 1) or that “a culture built on celebrity can lead to widespread personality problems such as an obsession with the self” (Gale, 2010, 1). In my opinion, as much as “being famous” can seem like a blessing, something that promotes happiness, well-being and prosperity, it is actually a curse that pushes us away from what really matters in life and makes us obsessive about attention and appearances.
First of all, it is safe to say that fame is a world in which people seek to be in the spotlight.
In fact, famous people are constantly heard, talked about or even followed. Their actions and latest news are posted all over the media. A celebrity can even be on the cover of the most famous magazine for doing something so banal and mundane like cleaning the dishes or going shopping. As a whole, fame is all about attraction and appearances. The sad this is that, us “non-famous” people look up to them and see ourselves in them. We unconsciously want to become like them. “We yearn to stand before the camera, to be noticed and admired” (Hedges, 2011, 2). Celebrity culture has made us obsessed with the self.
Unfortunately, not everyone is famous, so instead of capturing one’s attention by appearing in television channels or magazines, we have created our own world of fame; Internet and social networks. A click on anyone’s Facebook profile or Twitter account is all it takes to notice that we are now “devoted to presenting our image to the world” (Hedges, 2011, 2). Being famous has thus changed our main objectives in life, making us believe that appearances and getting people’s attention is a key to success and happiness. Now what do you think happens to those who fail to get attention?
Secondly, we can also add that fame and the celebrity culture makes us focus on the trivial and the absurd. Celebrities are bombarding the media whether by the exposure of their true talents or their latest mundane news. Nowadays, some people like Paris Hilton or Kim Kardashian are famous simply for being famous. They are well-known and worshiped because of their inherited health or famous connections. Instead of following the news or reading the newspaper, people are now watching these stars’ reality shows and gossiping about it. This obsession with the “Rich and Famous” has changed our perception of reality.
What really matters in our lives […] doesn’t fit into the cheerful happy talk that we mainline into our brains” (Hedges, 2011, 1). We hear people around us constantly talking about Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie’s kids instead of discussing real matters such as that of kids in poor countries who are dying of hunger, thirst and who are victims of violent wars. Fame not only changes our life objectives by making us focus on what others think about us and how others see us, but it also makes us change the way others see the world, by giving them unimportant stuff to focus on instead of concentrating on what really matters in life.
Being famous focuses on the self and the mundane, making “nothing else in life count” (Hedges, 2011, 2) Furthermore, fame and the celebrity culture feeds us with countless lies and “false promises” (Hedges, 2011, 3). We all want to be like the celebrities we see on our television screens, “we are waiting for our cue to walk onstage and be admired and envied, to become known and celebrated” (Hedges, 2011, 2). The celebrity lifestyles we see on TV or in magazines make us believe that fame can fill the emptiness in our lives, that “doing what the celebrities do” will bring us power, will make us envied and successful.
We then enter a world of make-believe, which makes us neglect reality. Fame is not a blessing after all. It is more of a fake world created by people who live to impress others, people who make reality shows seem more important than the reality itself. It is a state of being that makes us mentally disturbed by focusing on the self and sociably accepted appearances. Nevertheless, “as the cultural importance of the media grew, […] it soon became clear that a person’s presence in the media was enough to create cultural significance. (Gale, 2010,1).
In other words, anyone is capable of being famous nowadays, especially with the help of the media that isn’t hard to access with its mass development. We have seen above that nowadays, people are easily becoming famous (like Paris Hilton or Kim Kardashian) which implies that fame can be seen as an equal opportunity for all. Being famous can also be a source of democracy and equality. However, what happens to the enormous portion of the population that is not part of the television’s graded community?
Those who have failed to become famous will then have to suffer psychological consequences such as self-doubt, inferiority and worthlessness, which brings us back to the point that being famous plays with our minds to an extent that it makes us ill. Furthermore, “the celebrities’ lives provide enriching human narratives” (Gabler, 2011, 1). Their stories and news are everywhere, which makes us constantly aware of all the basic details that are going on in their lives. Through celebrity culture, people are incessantly entertained.
Moreover, the experiences and celebrity incidents they see in front of them make them learn about new stuff like love, family and social drawbacks. Celebrity news creates suspense, provide excitement and keep us entertained. It makes the community share a common experience, which portrays a sort of unity. It is important to mention that not all the celebrities are famous just for the sake of being famous; some of them have real talents like singers, dancers, writers or even athletes. Therefore, fame permits them to share their talent with the world and make use of it.
It is true that fame has become like a “new art form of the 21st century” (Gabler, 2011, 2), an art that provides narratives and continuous entertainment for the public. Fame has its ways of uniting people and making them evolve in life. Nevertheless, the social consequences and especially those related to the self outweigh the beneficial side of fame. Celebrity culture ultimately changes reality and people’s concerns in life. In conclusion, I feel that although being famous is one of the major goals of most of the population, it is a curse that plays with our self-esteem, our beliefs and our society.