Come on, admit it. You are a junkie for celebrity news. Why? What is it about the bigger-than-life actions of Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie or Nicole Ritchie or the continuing train wreck news from Lindsay Lohan that makes it so compelling for Americans to drop everything and tune-in. They’re just like us – only better. They’re richer, shinier, more beautiful versions of ourselves. With all the fancy dress-up occasions and flashbulbs popping like crazy on the red carpet, it’s like the prom every day. The overwhelming media attention given them informs us that they are what we want to be. First of all, they’re always there. The media insists that the constant coverage is a result of their audiences desire for more news, more details on every facet of celebrity lives. The opposition says that because we are so submerged by the constant stream of media news that we become junkies for more news. I tend to think the first is true…people cannot get enough news about their favorite celebrities. Prior to the 90’s, there were two major sources for celebrity news, one televised and one print. Soon after the millennium the rise of the internet as a news resource became a major influence particularly among the young. With our ever-increasing access by virtual means into the lives of just about anyone, celebrities’ every move is recorded and broadcast into our lives as if we were right there with them. You can carry your favorite celebrity in your own pocket. Privacy isn’t what it used to be, so it’s easy to feel that we know all about the lives of Kanye and Kim, David Beckham, or whoever your fav is. There is a sense of entitlement to celebrity lives which feeds the celebrity frenzy. The effect is felt most by the younger generation who were born after 1990 and have known nothing else other than the current media frenzy that celebrities create. With all of our instant access and supposed need for more and more “gossip” sociologists believe we are suffering from a “Low level cultural depression”. The notoriety of the entertainer and the almost religious fervor of their most dedicated fans is a symptom of dissatisfaction with one’s own predicament. Kids see fame as a cure-all for problems. And whereas previous generations may have been interested in the so-called fabulous life of celebrities, the difference today is that kids feel fame is achievable. I remember watching the Academy Awards with my parents and while it was a wonderful night to see the Hollywood Stars all dressed up, it was soon forgotten and we continued our regular, sometimes mundane lives.With today’s reality shows and YouTube showcasing the lives of the unknown masses and creating instant fame for those who have no reason to be famous, there is the belief that someday soon they could join the ranks of those whose faces are seen on People and Us. Here is a big down-side with celebrity obsession…the motivation for following the lives of the famous, whether it be boredom, dissatisfaction, or loneliness in one’s own life-often can lead to increased isolation from the real world. Being older I was often amazed and almost impressed with how much the younger people at work knew about even the slightest of celebrities. It was like a game to see who could get the “dish” the soonest and the news comes out fast. I once took a lunch break and went to the gym for a 1-hour workout at LA Fitness. I saw David Hasselhoff at the gym and by the time that I returned to work his picture at the gym was already posted on TMZ…that is fast.
All this instant coverage often leads to confrontations between celebrity and the paparazzi. I can definitely see how an A-celebrity can be pushed to the limit from this kind of hounding. What I don’t think everyone realizes is that your B & C-actors and wannabe actors seek out the paparazzi’s attention. The more coverage , the better. They want their picture on any possible media outlet to hopefully be seen by the right producer who will make them famous and then they can hate the paparazzi if they get famous. I don’t think we are in any great danger as a society with our fixation on celebrity life. I think it is just a small minority who try to replace their own lives with that of someone famous. It is just a change that technology brought us into this mass supply of celebrity news. The internet separated generations and the new generation is comfortable with the new technology and will continue to be. For the rest of us what we don’t know won’t hurt us regarding celebrity news. FYI – currently the most followed celebrities are Katy Perry, Justin Bieber, Lady Gaga, Barack Obama, Rhianna, Taylor Swift, Britney Spears, Justin Timberlake, Shakira, and Jennifer Lopez.