Celebrities represent the idealizations of a society, projected onto an individual. A celebrity is generally a specialist in a single field, like art, academia, sport, literature, media, politic, science, finance or lifestyle marketing. Celebrities are- to the public- like sitcom characters from the eighties: one-dimensional, type-casts playing a specific archetypal role in the public eye. A sex symbol. A lifestyle idol. A justice fighter. An underdog. A liberated victim. A tyrant. A hero. A sage. An innocent. We do not see the entirety of any individual who exists in the stratosphere of fame. We may develop strong, lasting emotions associated with “stars”, but those emotions are based on the work and efforts of those individuals ONLY in contexts available to our collective observation. It’s all part of their show, and we pay and glorify them for it.
People often employ celebrity as a surface onto which they may project their fantasies, as well as a distraction from their own perceived inadequacies. Celebrities help us escape the mundane, envision the seemingly unattainable, and experience the otherwise inaccessible. They are keys to parts of our own psyche; visible and sanctioned- even ordained- emotional puppet masters; avatars of the archetypes we inherit through exposures to social biases and trends.
When we discover that celebrities themselves are sorely inadequate, we may feel betrayed, devastated, angry and misled. Indeed, we were misled. So how to cope? Should we leave such a process to the celebrity? Or is there a way to use such an experience to grow within?
Perhaps we should re-examine the role of celebrity in our culture and society. Why is our culture obsessed with fame and celebrity? To what benefit do we attribute the compelling habit of exalting those who say or do that which inspires us? Does a healthy mind need personified representatives for its preferences? Is it healthy to glorify others?
Does the content necessitate obsession with the channel? Why do we esteem the personages- rather than simply the achievements- of actors, musicians, politicians, athletes, and other celebrities? On what basis do we expect others to be anything other than inadequate according to our ideals? Are we not ourselves inadequate according to our own ideals?
We have cultivated a climate of idealism shadowed by reactionism. Like a pendulum, our collective attention swings between idolatry and condemnation. But is there another way?
Witness the veiled toxicity of human ideology and behavior coming to light in the public eye. We can and should acknowledge its permeating presence. Healing can come from honesty. But only if we are willing to be truly honest with ourselves. And to do such a thing is radical, because in the process, we may discover an untapped source of immense personal power: the power of clarity.
And it is “clear” that many of our idols are severely flawed. The prestige we collectively bestowed upon them is now rescinded, leaving them- and us- disappointed, bewildered and shocked.
Prestige is the currency one spends to express agreement and praise. Please spend some of it on yourself today. Celebrities aren’t the best investment of your love. You are.