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I use the term celebrity culture to refer to the culture of idolizing certain people as celebrities on a widespread scale. All societies and communities have certain figures who are more famous or prominent than others, and people in certain positions, such as the leaders of a country, will always be public figures. This is not necessarily a bad thing.
Celebrities can have positive influences on society when they lead by example and inspire people to do positive things. However, the obsession with celebrities can become harmful to society in numerous ways. In the U.S., unfortunately, the celebrity culture often plays more of a negative role in society than a positive one.
Negative Impacts on Society of the Celebrity Culture:
- When a large number of people become obsessed with public figures such as actors, musicians, or other prominent public figures, they are putting large amounts of time and thought energy into paying attention to these people instead of paying attention to the people and relationships around them in their life. The relationship of a fan to a celebrity is usually exclusively one-sided. The celebrity culture thus encourages a passive sort relationship; it is not empowering.
- When the media dedicates large amounts of attention to irrelevant details in the lives of celebrities, and people view, read, or listen to this media, this information occupies broadcasting time, space on the page, and thought space which could be occupied by other, more constructive news.
- People often idolize celebrities, and copy their behaviors, and these behaviors are often destructive or negative. In the United States, the media tends to focus on and highlight extravagant displays of wealth and wasteful use of resources, as well as highlighting a casual and overly dramatized view of relationships and marriage.
Moving Beyond the Celebrity Culture:
The best way to combat and overcome the celebrity culture is to simply stop paying attention to it. If people would turn off the TV, change the radio station, or skip over the newspaper articles whenever they encountered superfluous information about celebrities, shifting market demand would force the media outlets to change their approach for the better.
Celebrity Culture and the Inherent Worth of All People:
In my opinion the most heinous and evil thing about the celebrity culture is the idea that celebrities are somehow special, more valuable or worthwhile as people. I believe that all humans have equal inherent value, and I see this as a foundational value of democracy and also of my religious beliefs. I think the celebrity culture can be a threat to democracy, and it is also something that conflicts with my personal religious beliefs.
Make your own celebrities: Everyone is a celebrity!
We all have certain special people in our lives who are important to us. Many people enjoy focusing on the details of people's lives. The celebrity culture provides a "safe" way for us to do this distantly. But this is not the way we are meant to live.
You can make your own celebrities by finding people in your life and paying attention to what is going on with them. People are often really excited when they get the opportunity to meet a celebrity. But you can be that excited to meet your grandmother, if you decide to be. Or how about an old friend that you haven't seen in a while? How about the friend you see every day? How about the new person you are being introduced to? I personally think that the most healthy way to approach life is to treat everyone as a celebrity. We are all important, very important. Turn off your TV, and pay attention to the people around you in your life!
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