Friday, November 28, 2008

the cult of celebrity

Stop and think: what magazines do you pick up when you're shopping at the grocery store? Do you grab a People or an Us Weekly? Perhaps an OK or a Hello!? Do you subscribe to these types of magazines, sifting through them as soon as they arrive in the mail?

Maybe you're only a casual reader, looking for a diversion while pushing your shopping cart through the check-out counter. Perhaps you peruse them when you're resting from working out at the gym. Maybe you watch Entertainment Tonight or Extra! now and then. Or perhaps, there's something more going on...

The American historian and educator Daniel Boorstin once wrote, “Time makes heroes but dissolves celebrities.”

We have just experienced an historic presidential campaign of unprecedented proportions, our economy is in peril, our military struggles to fight two wars, and our health care system is facing impending collapse. With all of these pressing issues weighing on the hearts and minds of America’s families, what seems to be on the covers of every magazine and tabloid these days? Celebrity nonsense. Does anyone really care which teen-aged pop star will give birth next? Do we need to know every happening inside the birthday party of a power-couple’s toddler? Is the diet that worked for the soap opera star really going to work for anyone else?

As long as there have been people who pulled away from the proverbial pack, there have been people to follow them and idolize them. However, scientists have only recently defined the psychological phenomenon of “celebrity worship” as a type of parasocial relationship that can have unhealthy and addictive elements.

Read the rest.

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