Cut Celebrities from Your Mental Diet

 

The English have their royalty, the Japanese have their gadgets, and here in the United States, we have celebrities. Lots and lots of celebrities.

Sports stars, actors, musicians…at some point in their careers, they become less a person and more an idea. Each and every one of them personifies a different niche; a different market segmentation.

Growing up in Missouri, I knew people who were absolutely obsessed with celebrities. They would go to church and pray and then go home to sit in front of the TV (their real place of worship) and turn on E! True Hollywood Stories or log on to Perez Hilton to read the latest about who got in a catfight with whom at which club in Los Angeles over the weekend. And what they were wearing (and how in or out of style it was).

And that’s in the Midwest, culturally and geographically hundreds of miles from the action! To really understand America’s obsession with stars, you have to live closer to the epicenter, and if celebrities are gods, Los Angeles is Mount Olympus.

Having lived in LA for the past few years, I’ve found that 1) the number of people who are obsessed with celebrities in LA is much higher than in Missouri, 2) many of these people are obsessed because they believe they will someday be (or be dating) a celebrity, and 3) they seem to have just as much chance of becoming celebrities with their $300 jeans and $200 haircuts as the Croc-wearing, McDonald’s-eating folk back in Missouri.

“But so what?” you’re likely shouting at anyone within hearing range. “Celebrities are entertainers! They’re harmless!”

The real problem that I have with celebrities is that most of the people we hold in such high regard aren’t very good role models. Oh wow, he can act! She looks good half-naked on the cover of magazines! Children, look! Imitate!

Then again, people aren’t looking for role models when they page through the latest celebrity gossip rag; they’re looking for scandal. It’s like a soap opera; one that the PR people are orchestrating and the people of America are entranced by.

Celebrity has become Soma (an escapist drug) for the American people. We’re so distracted by what Brittany is up to this week that we don’t have time to keep up with current events, politics, art, literature, etc etc etc (you know, all that non-sexy stuff).

The real shame is that celebrity in itself is not wrong; it’s just America’s approach to it that’s failing us.

If little girls were flipping out over the latest literary achievement by Nobel Laureate Doris Lessing and little boys were getting excited about new findings related to entangled particles, then we probably wouldn’t be suffering through our current crises (rushing to close the technology gap with other countries, suffering under a failing educational system, enduring a horrendous economic crisis, etc).

So what can do you change a nationwide trend?

You can start by changing your own activities and influencing others by example. Any time you catch yourself turning on some mind-candy TV show or paging through People or reaching for a tabloid, redirect your attention to something productive and fulfilling. I’ll bet there are a million and one things you’ve been telling yourself you would accomplish this year that you haven’t even started on. What better way to use this reclaimed time than by investing it in those goals?

Turning off the TV can also help A LOT. I’ve been TV-less for over two years, and in that time I’ve enjoyed massive amounts of productive time that would have otherwise been drained by the boob tube.

In the end, take it from a marketing guy: all of these celebrities, at the end of the day, exist only to sell you something. They are themselves a product created to sell other products. If you approach them like you would any other commercial (that is, changing the channel to see what else is on), you’ll be doing yourself a service.

What do you think? Are you a celebriphile? Can’t stand them? Share your comments below!

32 comments

  1. Crocs are great. they are a low cost flipflop alternative, which are anti-microbial and come in a variety of colors. they are easy to slip on and off, can double as a shower shoe in public places, make great galoshes when it’s raining and can be handy for the beach. (Also they are great for hiding ugly feet like mine)
    So while I agree that $300 jeans and $200 haircuts are outrageous, crocs my midwest originating friend, are a simple solution to stresses of everyday footwear.

  2. Crocs are great. they are a low cost flipflop alternative, which are anti-microbial and come in a variety of colors. they are easy to slip on and off, can double as a shower shoe in public places, make great galoshes when it’s raining and can be handy for the beach. (Also they are great for hiding ugly feet like mine)
    So while I agree that $300 jeans and $200 haircuts are outrageous, crocs my midwest originating friend, are a simple solution to stresses of everyday footwear.

  3. I agree – leading by example is one of the best ways to influence. You obviously get better results if you’re an opinion leader.

  4. I agree – leading by example is one of the best ways to influence. You obviously get better results if you’re an opinion leader.

  5. I agree – leading by example is one of the best ways to influence. You obviously get better results if you’re an opinion leader.

  6. You just put into words what has been troubling my mind for years. I just don’t understand why we give a damn about the details of their lives.

  7. You just put into words what has been troubling my mind for years. I just don’t understand why we give a damn about the details of their lives.

  8. You just put into words what has been troubling my mind for years. I just don’t understand why we give a damn about the details of their lives.

  9. @Brian: sounds like someone is getting kickbacks from Crocs :) But seriously, my beef isn’t with Crocs (though I think they are an obscene eyesore), it’s with celebrity.

    Strangely enough, there was just a huge volleyball competition in Manhattan Beach that was sponsored by Crocs. It was hilarious to see them posing as an athletic brand.

    @Dwight: I’ll work on the celebrity invasion of Twitter in a future article!

    @J.D. Meier: Definitely. This is why it’s a good idea to maintain opinion leader status if you can, so that when you have something you feel strongly about, you can hopefully make a difference without being pushy or making enemies.

    @braeden young: Right? It boggles my mind every time I meet someone who couldn’t tell you where North Korea is, but could tell you the annotated history of Bradgelina’s relationship.

    Thanks for the great comments!

  10. @Brian: sounds like someone is getting kickbacks from Crocs :) But seriously, my beef isn’t with Crocs (though I think they are an obscene eyesore), it’s with celebrity.

    Strangely enough, there was just a huge volleyball competition in Manhattan Beach that was sponsored by Crocs. It was hilarious to see them posing as an athletic brand.

    @Dwight: I’ll work on the celebrity invasion of Twitter in a future article!

    @J.D. Meier: Definitely. This is why it’s a good idea to maintain opinion leader status if you can, so that when you have something you feel strongly about, you can hopefully make a difference without being pushy or making enemies.

    @braeden young: Right? It boggles my mind every time I meet someone who couldn’t tell you where North Korea is, but could tell you the annotated history of Bradgelina’s relationship.

    Thanks for the great comments!

  11. @Brian: sounds like someone is getting kickbacks from Crocs :) But seriously, my beef isn’t with Crocs (though I think they are an obscene eyesore), it’s with celebrity.

    Strangely enough, there was just a huge volleyball competition in Manhattan Beach that was sponsored by Crocs. It was hilarious to see them posing as an athletic brand.

    @Dwight: I’ll work on the celebrity invasion of Twitter in a future article!

    @J.D. Meier: Definitely. This is why it’s a good idea to maintain opinion leader status if you can, so that when you have something you feel strongly about, you can hopefully make a difference without being pushy or making enemies.

    @braeden young: Right? It boggles my mind every time I meet someone who couldn’t tell you where North Korea is, but could tell you the annotated history of Bradgelina’s relationship.

    Thanks for the great comments!

  12. Surely you don’t mean to restrict little girls to English studies and shuffle the boys off into the sciences? While Lessing should be read more widely (although perhaps not by “little” children of either sex, given her penchant for distopian tales that reveal the shattered and ostracizing nature of our own societies) there is no need to follow the path of Oxbridge dons and denote that realm as belonging purely to the feminine. Likewise little boys should not feel it necessary to prove their manhood in the realms of science but instead should feel free to embrace their inner artist, poet, historian, etc.

  13. Surely you don’t mean to restrict little girls to English studies and shuffle the boys off into the sciences? While Lessing should be read more widely (although perhaps not by “little” children of either sex, given her penchant for distopian tales that reveal the shattered and ostracizing nature of our own societies) there is no need to follow the path of Oxbridge dons and denote that realm as belonging purely to the feminine. Likewise little boys should not feel it necessary to prove their manhood in the realms of science but instead should feel free to embrace their inner artist, poet, historian, etc.

  14. Surely you don’t mean to restrict little girls to English studies and shuffle the boys off into the sciences? While Lessing should be read more widely (although perhaps not by “little” children of either sex, given her penchant for distopian tales that reveal the shattered and ostracizing nature of our own societies) there is no need to follow the path of Oxbridge dons and denote that realm as belonging purely to the feminine. Likewise little boys should not feel it necessary to prove their manhood in the realms of science but instead should feel free to embrace their inner artist, poet, historian, etc.

  15. @Amy: Definitely not! Re-reading it now, I can see it how it could read that way, but I certainly wasn’t implying that those interests are ALL that little boys and girls should be interested in, but rather that each is an example of something that would be more valuable and fulfilling than an obsession with celebrity and the culture that comes with it.

    Thanks for pointing that out and allowing me to clarify for anyone else who might have been wondering, as well!

  16. @Amy: Definitely not! Re-reading it now, I can see it how it could read that way, but I certainly wasn’t implying that those interests are ALL that little boys and girls should be interested in, but rather that each is an example of something that would be more valuable and fulfilling than an obsession with celebrity and the culture that comes with it.

    Thanks for pointing that out and allowing me to clarify for anyone else who might have been wondering, as well!

  17. @Amy: Definitely not! Re-reading it now, I can see it how it could read that way, but I certainly wasn’t implying that those interests are ALL that little boys and girls should be interested in, but rather that each is an example of something that would be more valuable and fulfilling than an obsession with celebrity and the culture that comes with it.

    Thanks for pointing that out and allowing me to clarify for anyone else who might have been wondering, as well!

  18. I plan to start eliminating everything I don’t need. Much thanks to you and your minimalist teachings. Flat screen tv, ps3, among many other things are complete time sucks.

    It is so sad the effect celebrities and pop culture have on society today. The young are easily influenced and if not for strong family values and good role models many will continue along this negative path.

    Good post Colin. I like how you tweet some of the older ones that I have missed.

    Rob

  19. I plan to start eliminating everything I don’t need. Much thanks to you and your minimalist teachings. Flat screen tv, ps3, among many other things are complete time sucks.

    It is so sad the effect celebrities and pop culture have on society today. The young are easily influenced and if not for strong family values and good role models many will continue along this negative path.

    Good post Colin. I like how you tweet some of the older ones that I have missed.

    Rob

  20. I plan to start eliminating everything I don’t need. Much thanks to you and your minimalist teachings. Flat screen tv, ps3, among many other things are complete time sucks.

    It is so sad the effect celebrities and pop culture have on society today. The young are easily influenced and if not for strong family values and good role models many will continue along this negative path.

    Good post Colin. I like how you tweet some of the older ones that I have missed.

    Rob

  21. For me, TV is center of the problem you are talking about. I watch very little of it these days. Probably less than an hour a day. I used to be very interested in what was going on in the lives of the rich and famous. Now I’m much more interested in the lives of my wife and children. 

    Great post!

  22. Nice analogy with Soma. I think the major flaw, as you pointed out, is anticipating scandal. People like to look at others who have fame, fortune, and sex appeal, yet are dragged into the gutter by drugs, sex, fraud, etc.

    Funny you mention a world where academic achievement is held in the kind of regard that acting is here; I hate to use a television example, but they explored that in an episode of Sliders. People were smarter, but there was just as much corruption.

  23. Hi! I’m from Greece and I assure you that Mount Olympus is still here, because we have more celebrities than my whole little country can handle (almost 1/3 of the population). And they are very bad influence especially for the young ones. But it’s not their fault, it’s our fault. We are all desperate to know what other people do, how they live and if something bad happens to them we enjoy it. It’s the way most people think and it’s everywhere, in every county.

    I am happy to say that am not addicted to TV; actually I don’t watch TV for 8 years now. My parents criticize me for that, saying that I’ve cut myself from the world. But I feel nice, I learn exactly what I want from the internet; hear the news, watch the movie I want whenever I want. And I don’t understand people who stay in front of a box and watch everything that comes out, without questioning.

    Yes, they do also think that a 200euros jeans makes them stylish and beautiful and it doesn’t matter if they have to work for a week and more to have this money or if they have to eat cheap food (Goodies) the only thing that matters is the 200euros jeans. The worst part of all is that they think different for someone that wears cheaper clothes. I can’t understand them and they can’t understand me.

    For the past two months I read blogs like yours and I am almost ready to start my journey to minimalism life. The worst part is going to be accepting that the people around won’t accept me the way I want to be. It sounds ridiculous but social life is still necessary for a human.

    It’s nice to read your thoughts. Thanks. You help a lot of people around the world. (Sorry for any editorial mistakes.)

  24. @Zenia. well communication is only possible between equals. means, they will never understand you unless their worldview shifts…

    Like the soma part as well. and loved the book by huxley.

    People get so sucked into the idead of the person, they really want to live the life of the person more than their own. Especially when people do crazy and over the top shit.

    watch the charlie sheen interviews that he gave lately on that. think of him what you want, but he put it nice as he said that he gives the people something they never see in their boring lives…

    sad. but its just a change in you attention as you said colin.

    Turn off the fucking TV. or burn it…

Comments are closed.