Friday, July 23, 2010

Picture 2 Of 7

Tiger Woods

Celebrities are idolized in America, and across the world. A single song, movie, or photo can send a previously unknown face onto the front page of every newspaper, and everybody will know their face, committing it to memory. I've got no problem with this.

My problem is the special treatment. Special treatment does not necessitate good treatment, though it all too often does. Celebrities can wave their authority as a sort of "Get out of jail free" card, reducing or nullifying their sentence, making fines disappear with the wave of a manicured finger. Does their fame allow them to bypass the laws of the United States? Should they truly be able to put themselves above the average Joe? Sure, a successful movie might merit extra pay, but extra rights, I think not. Being the star of a movie or a song does not put you above the justice system. A very recent example of this is Lindsey Lohan. She'll be spending two weeks, tops in jail. For a 90 day sentence. For any other person (apart from another celebrity) the most they'd get off would be 30 days for good behavior. Lindsey is getting 75% of her sentence knocked off for....being a celebrity.

But on the other side of the special treatment is unwanted attention. The Tiger Woods scandal still lingers, and in his golf tournaments, commentators to this day always, always put in a comment of how "he has recovered from that scandal last year". Divorces, births, and affairs happen every day. When a baby is born, (Oh! One just was! And there's another! And another!) does it make the front page of People? Does CNN, or the New York Times put it as the headline article? There wouldn't be space. The American media follows the lives of celebrities like hounds, recording their every moment, exploiting every scandal. If Fox News doesn't report every affair in the United States, did Tiger Woods' extramarital activities really warrant four months, if not more of coverage?

The public is also somewhat to blame for this elevated status of celebrities. (Though I still place most of the blame on the media. Yes, a hit movie is something you should talk about. No, it should not be talked about for weeks and months. No, it should not take precedence over the 8.3 magnitude earthquake in California.) Why do people think that imitating the lifestyle of a celebrity will make them famous? Having a haircut like Michael Jackson will not, I repeat, will not give you singing or dancing skills. Taking on Megan Fox's personality will neither give you acting ability, nor land you in the news. And no, becoming pregnant on the same day as [insert celebrity of your choice here] will not make your child a celebrity.

Crap. This is just turning into a media rant, isn't it? Ah well. 

My opinions will hardly make me popular, but so be it. Celebrities have gotten it into their head that they are better than the average Joe. I cannot say this enough - the ability to act, or throw a ball, or to look very pretty should not lead to a "superhuman" status. Celebrities are still human, though the media would prefer them not to be. They want superhumans who will make every American stay glued to their TV, or computer, or radio, and add ratings to their stations.

Celebrities are only human. They do not have superior ethics, nor are they above the law. They are not immune to the emotions of humanity, and they are not so perfect that they will never be compromised in an embarrassing position. They should be given no extra rights, nor should they be held to higher standards. There is no correlation between starring in Transformers, and being an emotionless automaton. 

Okay, not the best comparison. Moving on to another place in this wildly careening rant of a post...

My idea of an ideal take towards celebrities would be where they rise to fame, give an interview here, give an interview there, then fade away until they do something else. And that something else should not be taking a smoke break, or going to McDonalds. The position of a celebrity is overblown in America, and in my ideal world, it would not be so. An affair would not be discussed over the new for months at a time. A charge for drug use would take up an hour, not a week, of news. A marriage between two celebrities looked down upon by one of their parents would warrant a sentence of news, not a front page. There are important things in the world. Knowing what every movie star and every sport star and every fashion model is doing at every goddamn minute of the day is not one of them. 

And yet, unless some sort of crazy phenomenon occurs, this will never be. Political commentators will still hold the president to be a superhuman, to be able to know exactly what to do in every situation, to be able to scare oil back down a well, to be able to solve the economy by snapping his fingers. Magazines will still crow about the latest kiss, or breakup, or child. The media will still neglect the natural disasters, the crime, and the poverty in the world, pushing the latest jail sentence, or "Shocking Discovery!" to the headlines.


The public comes to its senses, and demands change. Not one, not three people. Not ten, not twenty. Not even hundreds will do it. Thousands upon thousands would need to rise to this, and achieve something to bring fame to themselves, rather than lusting over the fame of someone else.

But that change will start with a single voice. Until it turns into ten. Then a hundred. Then a thousand.

While the world aches under the weight of poverty, and disease, and while natural disasters wrack the world, everybody will be gasping at the latest celebrity breakup. Unless something changes.

Afterward: Well, that was unexpected. I'll try not to go near the media as a topic in coming days....I could go on forever about it. Grrrr.
The end was also unexpected. Apologies if it meandered/repeated itself a bit. It happens.
Got a bone to pick with me over this? Go for it.

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