A topic that is both fascinating and a little disturbing is that of the celebrity culture that is prevalent in the US. With the rise and expansion of the Internet, the culture of constantly scrutinizing celebrity actions seems to have increased immensely. By all appearances, celebrities are a focus of extreme interest for many Americans. There are websites, TV shows and magazines solely dedicated to what celebrities are up to, who they are rumored to be sleeping with, what they are buying and the like. Sites like Perezhilton.com and shows like Entertainment Tonight wouldn’t exist if there wasn’t a demand for this celebrity “news”. What is it about celebrities that “average” citizens find so intriguing? It could be their money, influence, and privilege, or their lifestyle of apparent opulence. All of these are desirable to the average person, and when faced with the endless magazines and news clips centered around celebrity gossip, it makes sense that “normal” people would want insight into what makes these others stand apart.
There is constant media attention focused on celebrities. Does this lead to celebrities having a very different perspective than most about their place in society? Stars are routinely let off for crimes that any other citizen would serve major time for. Lindsay Lohan’s very publicized struggles with drug addiction have been “news” for the past few years. There has been a good deal of criticism regarding her multiple slaps on the wrist for her various crimes. If any other person was breaking probation they would have landed in jail for much longer than she has. Yet she still makes headlines for her antics, even though she hasn’t acted in a movie in quite some time. Why is it that many celebrities receive this kind of preferential treatment by our justice system? Ms. Lohan is not the first example of this, and it seems doubtful that she will be the last. It is indeed envious that celebrities can essentially do whatever they want, without facing typical consequences for their actions.
Where did this obsession come from and why does it continue? Is engaging in this culture of studying and analyzing the famous just another way for people to escape from their own lives, or are there other more deep seeded issues at hand here? So many questions arise from even the most basic inquiry of this aspect of popular culture. One such question is, why do celebrities make such an absurdly large amount of money? Many actors/actresses make millions of dollars per movie, which is more by far than many people would make in a given year. How is it that as a society we find it acceptable to pay celebrities millions of dollars for one movie, while most teachers won’t stand to make even one million dollars in a lifetime? What does this say about our values culturally? Imaginably, it says that we value glamour, entertainment, and a lavish lifestyle, but not necessarily for everyone.
Perhaps it is the enviable lifestyle of celebrities, their massive amounts of money and privileges that cause people to focus so intently on their actions. Maybe people feel that by reading the gossip they will somehow be able to find the secret to what makes celebrities successful, or “special”. Whatever the reason behind the fascination with celebrities is, there are endless facets of this phenomenon that could be interesting to study more. How the realm of celebrity culture functions within our society as a whole, how it enables aspects of capitalism to thrive, and what the implications of this are, is truly worth a more in depth look.