Life is full of “news” headlines like this one I encountered on MSN a few days after the Oscars – when the real news about films and performances had faded a bit. These kinds of headlines invite us to click, browse, listen, read or watch in order to indulge in some famous people’s love lives, fashion failures, baby news, jail trips, wild parties, ambulance rides, balloon rides, DUI arrests, incredible homes, posh vacations and sadly even the details of their deaths. Simply to partake in someone else’s private life through a continuous feed.
(photo credit: Creative Commons jdeeringdavis)
I would understand if the “celebrity news” were mostly about achievements. Telling the audience what someone famous actually did as a public persona. How they acted in a film, how they performed in a concert, what awards they received for their work, what kind of book they wrote, how remarkable results they achieved in sports, what political decisions they made (how rare is that nowadays?), how they helped to build houses for storm victims or organized a fund-raising event. Something of public interest whether in arts, sports, sciences or politics. And I’d even understand that celebrities will make fashion news for obvious reasons. But I observe that, unfortunately, the more serious news tend to drown in the chase for gossip. The private life of the “celebrity” seems to be in the focus much of the time, whether or not with the agreement or collaboration of the person concerned.
Some “celebrities” of course make a living just by staying in the gossip lime light because many of them don’t have any artistic or other achievements to talk about. But this type of news-making must be frustrating to those famous people who’d rather see the news being about their achievements than about the outrageous hat they wore to a family dinner in a N.Y. restaurant or the make-up they didn’t wear to the grocery store this morning. And it gets even worse when their life is spread out publicly in intimate detail when they are going through difficult times or are recovering from a tragedy. Vultures come to mind.
I have sometimes wondered how the term “celebrity” (\sə-ˈle-brə-tē\) first came to be used already far back in the 14th century. I guess these early “celebrities” were kings and queens, painters, composers, playwrights and actors, and that their sometimes wild private lives were subject to lively gossip and whispers in certain social circles. Ordinary folks probably didn’t have the appetite nor the time for or access to these early “celebrity news”. But then things evolved and times changed. And after a few centuries along came the cinema, the television and the internet. More celebrities were born and everyone had access to them.
(Photo credit: Wikimedia Commons)
Today, the fascination with the celebrities’ private lives provides for a flourishing, lucrative business. But why is that? What drives the demand for this kind of gossip and speculation? Are these people considered by others as role models in their private lives? As having the best recipes for a happy life and a successful marriage? Or just the opposite? Have they become subjects of worship or envy because they tend to accumulate, and occasionally lose, money and other coveted belongings? Or do these stories just provide the necessary proof to “non-celebrities” (antonym) that everybody actually has a life full of ups and downs and that eventually we all get older, and finally depart from here empty-handed? Or is it simply so sad that many consumers of this kind of celebrity news need to spice up their lives with someone else’s experiences in all their shiny or gory details, to add excitement and feed curiosity? Just wondering. The psychology of this frenzy seems to be quite complex and intriguing.
I hope that more people would take the time to focus on being fully present in their own lives. But in the meantime, I will need to get to a chore I’ve been planning of doing for some time now – to customise all my home pages a bit more so that I get the news I actually want to read, without being bombarded by rumors, speculation and gossip.
What do you think helps feed the paparazzi?