Get a Life... Preferably Your Own
I don’t understand celebrity worship. I don’t understand how shows such as Entertainment Tonight, Extra!, Access Hollywood and magazines such as USWeekly, InStyle, People, and tabloids such as The Star, The Globe and The National Enquirer manage to generate enough business from publishing stories about the lives of celebrities. Sure, celebrity worship isn’t anything new and without all these entertainment “news” shows and magazines the notion of celebrity would be greatly reduced, but the fact remains that people seem interested in the lives of people they don’t know.
Unless you’re banking on another season of Newlyweds, why would you care if Nick and Jessica split up? Unless you’re petrified of people not accepting a non-heterosexual action star, who cares if Tom Cruise is gay? And if you’re sick of people like Paris Hilton, then don’t pay her any attention. Yet celebrities seem to be the people we love to hate, which is pretty sick and twisted when you realize you’ve never met them.
Celebrities are one step above strangers. But just because you can match a face to a name, that doesn’t mean their right to privacy is now void. And to say that because they’re public figures they’re no longer entitled to privacy is just bogus. Just because someone’s a movie star, there’s no corollary that states that paparazzi must hunt them down like dogs and their marital relations are now public.
It seems odd to jump to the defense of such a privileged group. After all, most celebrity news exists to take these people down a peg and if they get their feelings hurt then they can go home to their mansion and cry into their millions. But part of human decency means that regardless of external circumstance, you treat your fellow humans based on their actions, not on how much money they have.
“But what about caring about the suffering of strangers in third-world countries? By your logic, we shouldn’t care about them,” some phantom-person-I-just-imagined might say. But that’s empathy. You should care about the less fortunate or else you’re a bit of a douchechill. But that doesn’t mean that at the other end of the spectrum you should hate rich people because they can afford it.
If anything, that reveals a moral shortcoming in you, not them. Jude Law never did anything to hurt me (well, except Cold Mountain, but that was really more the director’s fault) and if he cheats on his wife with the babysitter, then why should I care? Why do I get to play jury to Jude Law’s personal life and actions? Some might argue that celebrities are immune to the real justice system so they deserve public scorn. But if that were true, Michael Jackson would be in jail right now. Celebrity doesn’t help people avoid justice; crappy California DAs do.
Furthermore, why should I go out of my way to read about such misery? What bothers me so much about shows like Entertainment Tonight is that actual entertainment news does exist. I’d rather learn about interesting movie projects coming out than why Lindsay Lohan’s lost so much weight. Furthermore, if we stopped putting so much dependence on star power, studios might be forced to work harder on the other elements of their films, rather than just sticking Jessica Simpson in The Dukes of Hazzard and calling it a day.
This may seem like an odd rant, but this week alone there were news stories about the split between Britney Spears and Kevin Federline, Jessica Simpson and Nick Lachey and more stories about the various hotness and stupidity of numerous other celebrities. And with each story, I just wondered, “This matters...how?” Isn’t news supposed to be important in some way? Isn’t importance what merits the distribution of that news? With each of these stories, the “news” in question seemed to reach only to those involved.
Some say this is just what people do and reading celebrity news is like
watching a car accident. Yes, it’s morbid and it doesn’t concern
us, but we look anyway. What I’m saying is that there are no daily shows
devoted to car accidents (police chases, but not car accidents), and no popular
magazines devoted to car accidents. There’s a clear line between
unconsciously turning your head to fill a morbid curiosity and seeking out the
corpses and giving your opinion on what they’re wearing.