The fascination our culture holds with celebrity speaks to an intrinsic part of human nature. The idea that there are people unlike you, who are interesting and compelling and mysterious. At its root, this fascination isn’t a bad thing but it can be taken to extremes when we forget to remember that these charmed people are human, with human ideas and feelings and experiences. In her Ted Talk, Elizabeth Gilbert, author of Eat, Pray, Love discusses the unattainable work we put onto people we have dubbed as creative geniuses and furthers her idea by insinuating that we all have our genius moments.
Thinking in terms of artistry, each artist has within them a moment, or moments of being one with their art. This can be seen in a transcending song like Hello by Adele or an art piece with a message like Beyonce’s Lemonade album. Those artists gifted us with a part of themselves and because of this their art was able to reach across boundaries and make us feel. The result, in regards to popular culture is that we push and push until they make more like it. By doing this we separate them as individual humans and instead label them into something that produces things that make us connect and feel. Basically, we demand that they give more and more of themselves at that level, for our pleasure and our feelings. We are consumer centric, as soon as we see something we like, we badger it until there is nothing left of it and then remove on to the next star that catches our eye and repeat the cycle.
One great example of this phenomenon is the singer-songwriter, Mariah Carey. After her comeback with The Emancipation of Mimi, in 2005/2006 people flocked to her and worshipped her again but as soon as she came out with other songs that were still good quality music but weren’t as emotionally charged as that album, people tried to replace her. When Ariana Grande came on this scene, there was an abundance of articles claiming she was the new MC. This highlights the sexism that women in the entertainment industry face, that of that once you reach a certain age, you will be replaced. It also showcases how we, as a society, are always searching for the next big thing and when a star that we know can produce out of this world material doesn’t, we are quick to replace them.
This is relevant to the study of popular culture because it questions our consumer centric mentality and the consequences of that. Because of the rise of technology, everyone now has a voice and think that their ideas not only matter but are the best ones. This is dangerous because it changes how we view other people, we are forgetting that the image fed to us through the media is that of an actual human being and this outlook has shifted how we treat the average person. Online, there are “trolls” who demean and harass people they have never met and will probably never meet for little to no reason. We have lost the ability to recognize that no matter what, people are people, with wants and emotions that can be affected by how they are treated.