Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Cult of celebrity?

I like to put links to interesting articles.  Here is one from hermeneutics blog:


I have never understood the cult of celebrity, why normal people are so dragged into personalities:  Oprah, Madonna, Lady Gaga, Beth Moore, and then male preachers, the Osteens, etc.  Is it a meaninglessness we see in our own lives, poor "self-esteem," boredom, too much time on our hands (I know of a soup kitchen you can work at)?  Do we just watch them, fascinated that someone can live a life so self-promoting, so in a fishbowl, or do we really admire them, want to be them, fantasize about a similar lifestyle?  Is it just the money, the servants (not doing my own laundry and yard work!), or the adulation we want?

Now, some would be angered at me that Beth Moore is in the preceding paragraph, and I don't put her in the same category morally or theologically with Oprah or Lady Gaga, of course.  She is a fine Christian woman whom I respect greatly.  I put her in that list because of the looks of adoration I see on the faces of her audiences, and because she incorporates some of the same techniques as Oprah:  self-confession, self-esteem emphasis, marketing.

Celebrities are celebrities because we celebrate them.  Marketing does not create celebrities; our willingness to follow them does.  The fault is in us, not in the "stars" to paraphrase Julius Caesar.  Why are we so needful of these people?  Why can we not find satisfaction outside of the cult of celebrity?  Why do I think I need Beth Moore to explain Scripture to me, when I can study it myself? (this from a woman who wants to write a book on Bible study herself, and is attending a writer's conference this weekend to promote her book!).

I can't help but quote Edwin Arlington Robinson's poem "Richard Cory" here:
WHENEVER Richard Cory went down town,
  We people on the pavement looked at him:
He was a gentleman from sole to crown,
  Clean favored, and imperially slim.
And he was always quietly arrayed,
  And he was always human when he talked;
But still he fluttered pulses when he said,
  "Good-morning," and he glittered when he walked.
And he was rich—yes, richer than a king,
  And admirably schooled in every grace:
In fine, we thought that he was everything
  To make us wish that we were in his place.
So on we worked, and waited for the light,
  And went without the meat, and cursed the bread;
And Richard Cory, one calm summer night,
  Went home and put a bullet through his head.

The difference of course, is that today all the Richard Corys are mediated through a camera of some sort, which makes a huge difference in what we see.

I also can't help but mention in this context that politicians are no longer persons whom we elect to help us self-govern.  They are celebrities, and ones of very poor character so often.  Reference the former governor of California.  At least Mike Huckabee decided to stay a celebrity and not confuse it with statesmanship.  Not sure our current president gets that.

Finally, in reference to the above link to CT, it's interesting to me that we have lost the connection between "outrage" and "outrageous."  Lady Gaga is outrageous, but we just use that to mean she wears bizarre clothes and likes to shock with her lyrics.  As the link shows, she should cause us "outrage," anger and disdain by her exploitation of herself and her sexuality and her proclaiming of anti-God and anti-faith messages.  I do not follow her, and have only seen her a few times on television (which caused a quick channel change), so I really can't comment intelligently on her beyond that.

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