The Age of Celebrity Obsession

All across America, there are thousands of people a day that get a morning coffee, get their hair cut, or begin or end a relationship. You may be wondering what all of these things have in common, and truthfully, it’s not much, especially when they’re done by average people. But when a celebrity does any of these things, it’s considered “news” in the tabloids. Our society is so interested in celebrities that even minute tasks such as getting coffee are noteworthy. But why?

Think of award shows as an example. Tons of Americans will get together to have a “viewing party” and talk about the fashion, the speeches, and the performances. Viewers all around the world will gossip about who’s talking to who and other things of that nature, but these celebrities are just regular people. 

The difference between them and the general population is that they’re ranked higher in society for their looks and talents. It’s an exclusive club that only a small percentage of the world will ever know, which makes their lives seem all the more mysterious and exciting.

“I’m personally obsessed with celebrities because of how great their lives are,” Brittany Chapman, a junior business administration major explained. “They have all the money they will ever need to live a lifestyle that I will never get to live. I feel like people love celebrities so much because that’s the closest they will ever get to experience that kind of life. Not to mention their amazing bodies and looks.”

This certainly seems to be true. We like things that are new to us, and we sometimes fantasize about how much money we wish we had, how we wish we looked, and so forth. We see other people with the things we want and it makes us want to emulate them. It makes them seem like a rare breed that everyone wants to be a part of.

But what makes us like certain celebrities and not others? Christina Bropson, a junior mathematics major, said, “Their talents and actions make them seem important, but it’s the way that they use their powers which makes me like one more than another.”

Celeb2Bropson continued by explaining that she likes Taylor Swift because she uses her money to help others in need.

If it weren’t for technology, would we know about all of the good that Taylor Swift is doing across the world, or would we know less? According to Kristine Simoes, specialist professor of communication, things would be different. “I think it [the obsession] has increased due to many factors, including technology,” Simoes said. “Back in the day of ‘old Hollywood’ (40s, 50s, 60s and even into the 70s), movie studios controlled stars’ PR. Studios handled reputation management.”

She explained, “They also manipulated the press to an extent. Scandals were kept under wraps, etcetera. Relationships were exploited and promoted at Studio hands, like Doris Day and Rock Hudson, to proactively keep the press out of ‘rumor mill’ that Hudson was gay.”

“Today, it’s a complete reversal,” Simoes continued. “Celebrities aren’t necessarily stars, actors, artists or even talented. So they all fight equally for press via social media. A story can garner traditional press coverage via social media, viral spread, etcetera, all at the hands of the celebrity himself. And scandals don’t end careers, they actually start there, such as Kim Kardashian.” 

Celeb3Dr. Michael Palladino, Interim Vice Provost for Graduate Studies, offered an opinion outside of the realm of communication and media. When asked if he felt people would be so obsessed with celebrities if we didn’t have social media, he explained, “Some Americans seem to have always been obsessed with celebrities, since the 40’s, 50’s, and 60’s, but then it was by going to movies, which was more popular than now.”

Palladino continued, “Now, web and social media clearly makes people more obsessed because they can follow celebrities 24/7. But think about why we are obsessed with celebrities, and not professors or nurses, for example. Web and social media wouldn’t cover celebrities if we didn’t care.”

And we do care. Whatever the reason may be, we can’t seem to get enough of celebrities, and there don’t seem to be any signs of this obsession slowing down.

PHOTO TAKEN from popsugar.com

PHOTO TAKEN from mirror.co.uk

PHOTO TAKEN from billboard.com