Friday, April 27, 2012

Celebrities and our national obsession with famous people.

This topic is one that I have been thinking about for years and years. And, now that I have been convinced to write a blog entry (or twelve), I am going to be putting my thoughts down for all you poor bastards to read. We often see days, or even weeks, of coverage any time a famous person of any stripe does something stupid. They get thrown in jail. A sex tape pops up. They get into an accident or divorce their partner of X months. Wait, months? No, sorry. I meant years. Unless it was months, but that isn't so unusual, is it? Why are they such a hot topic for these seemingly stupid mistakes? Let's go over that.

First of all, these are the people who "made it". They started wherever they started, and now they are living the American Dream(tm). Many people hold them up as a goal. A living version of the dream that they can pattern their lives after. Is this smart? Healthy? Heck no! These people didn't make it by patterning their lives after others. They made something that was unique. Their own brand of music/movies/whatever that first elevated them above the ranks of us mere mortals. A few of these "made" individuals turn that obsession with themselves into its own money making machine. They do this by self-branding merchandise. Books. Shows. And it works! How many things have been successful just because Oprah or Martha endorsed it?

Which brings us to our next point: What are these people even famous for? Were they on a television show for one season and instantly found fame as the viewer's favorite? Did they win a reality contest? Or were they just that idiot that showed up on American Idol and made it past the first round by comically failing? Do we have ANY standards for popularity now a days? A good example of this would be the recent wedding of Courtney Stodden (16) to Doug Hutchision. Doug is famous for his roles on various television shows, notably one season of "Lost". Then, he leverages his fame on a major TV show, and gets a trophy wife. In the process, he is going to be her handler. And he earns himself a new income source through her budding (is that what we can call the coming train wreck?) musical career. Another easy target for this accusation would be Nadya Denise Doud-Suleman, also know as the Octomom. She was initially famous for giving birth to EIGHT children at once. After the initial several months of coverage, she was able to find the time to make appearances on several shows, including The Oprah Winfrey show. The celebrities created by IVF also include Kate Gosselin, who first gained attention after she gave birth to sextuplets. Her family was able to run several seasons of a television show documenting their lives, known as Jon & Kate Plus 8. Or, changing tracks again, do people who live their lives wastefully deserve all the media attention that they get? The Kardashians. Kim was first making money by lawsuit after a sex tape involving her was made into a movie. She leveraged the cash award, and whatever publicity surrounded that, into a television career. Becoming a top paid "reality" star. After that, the media was more than happy to take the headlines with a short lived (72 day) marriage, and other social debacles.

Are they famous for the right reasons? How many of our current "role models" are famous simply because they screwed up? Do we have to pull Hilton levels of idiocy and societal faux paus before we can be consider a celebrity? What happened to the good old days (can I use that phrase at 28?) of making it BEFORE screwing up your life? I miss the days when Britney Spears was known for her singing. And girls would dress up as her in high school and pretend they were that hot/cool/awesome. When the scandal of her sex tape actually meant something. Then, we gained the likes of Kim Kardashian (mentioned above), who first hit the headlines for a sex tape and the lawsuit surrounding its movie debut. What does it say to our youth that the easiest way to get a foot in the door is to screw up so badly you make national headlines?

Which brings us to the final question I am going to pose: Are they really celebrities, or just filling time on the major news networks? Many times these stories are the stuff of relationship horror films. But, really. Do the rest of us need to know? Is that fact that Tiger Woods cheated on his wife really a national news story? We didn't really need to know that (famous singer) got a boob job. Or that (idiot internet sensation) was censored by Youtube for posting racist comments. We have the likes of E! and other "celebrity news" outlets for this kind of drivel. Please keep the news channels for actual news.

Tune in next week for more thoughts and opinions on the 24/7 news cycle.

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