Formal Writing - 1st Place - Isla Benham

By Isla Benham | Posted: Wednesday November 20, 2013

Formal writing by Isla Benham

Celebrity Culture- Take only in small doses:

How many of you have surreptitiously  looked at the cover of the Women’s Weekly Magazine while waiting in the supermarket checkout line or admitted to watching the Ellen show under the pretence of flicking through the channels? Even to those who are too embarrassed to admit it, celebrity culture is alluring, glamorous and toxic.


Celebrity culture is glitzy, dazzling and enthralling. However, celebrity culture is also becoming more and more pervasive in our society. Should we be concerned by this? Is there a downside to the upside of following our favourite celebrity’s every move? Many of us are constantly on the internet or reading tabloid magazines to find the latest information on our favourite celebrity. Why is this? What is it about this culture that makes it so alluring to the thousands of people who avidly follow their favourite film stars and singers in magazines and tabloids? I believe that it is because the onlytimesthat we see celebrities are in staged and controlled events in which the celebrities have been dressed and made up to look perfect.  This is what makes them so alluring. Because people only see celebrities in staged events dressed in dazzling outfits looking flawless it gives an irresistible lure of absolute perfection .This captivates and enthrals the non-celebrity population much more so than if people saw them when they were exhausted from a long day or in the morning still confused with sleep. Another reason that the celebrity culture is so alluring and entrancing to many people is the immense wealth that these people manage to accumulate. The average celebrity earns more in a year than the average person earns in their entire lifetime. An example of this is the country singer and songwriter Taylor Swift who in 2012 at the tender age of twenty two earned a massive fifty seven million dollars. Is this getting a little too excessive?


Advertisers use celebrities to pedal their wares from glittering diamonds and designer gowns on the catwalk to the latest in baby fashions and hardware when they are out with their kids. Everything is for sale including the celebrity themselves. We need to understand that these celebrities are in the business of sales, the selling of themselves, hence the reasons why so many of them court the paparazzi, sell their stories to women’s magazines and appear endlessly on chat shows like Graham Norton. To be perfectly honest with you the film star, actor, or singer probably had a million other things that they would rather be doing than appearing on chat shows. Paul Hamburg an assistant professor of Psychiatry at Harvard medical school says “The media markets desire. And by reproducing ideals that are absurdly out of line with what real bodies really do look like…the media perpetuates a market for frustration and disappointment”. What he is saying is that because we can never ever look like the celebrity dripping in diamonds on the catwalk the advertisers create an impossible ideal so the consumer will keep coming back and back to repurchase after they have failed in a futile attempt to be like their favourite celebrity. Celebrities use these advertisements to their advantage so they can keep themselves in the public eye and keep earning their millions every year.

Most of us have a strong love hate relationship with celebrities, identifying with some of them yet also loving it when they fall. Jennifer Lawrence is a recent example of this, when   going up to receive her Oscar for best actress at the 85th Academy  Awards for her role in the movie ‘Silver Linings Playbook’,  tripped over her dress while walking up the stairs to receive the Oscar. When this happened I believe that everyone who was watching this including myself felt a twinge of embarrassment for her yet still loved seeing her fail. Having a love hate relationship with those who have high status in society is not a recent trend however. Throughout our recorded history we have had people in society whom we have put upon pedestals, identified with and revered, yet when their pedestal crumbled we loved to hate them. The only thing that is different in society today is that it has become more prevalent than it once was, with access to such information today becoming easier to use and find than it once was. Although this behavioural trend has been present in society throughout recorded human history, today it has become more intrusive into our celebrities’ private lives with whole websites devoted to dishing the dirt on celebrities’ most recent blunders. It is however, mainly the high flying and most famous celebrities’ who get the majority of the criticism for their blunders with the lesser celebrities usually flying under the radar of the public’s love to hate. As the cliché says “the higher they climb the bigger they fall”.


There are however negatives associated with the celebrity culture. Celebrities have immense influence over their followers on social networking sites such as Facebook and Twitter particularly where the developments of adolescents are concerned. In this experimental stage adolescents are frequently reinventing themselves and are prone to adapting to the latest changes in celebrity trends. With celebrity role models such as Lindsay Lohan who has repeated drink driving offenses and Miley Cyrus who was filmed smoking Marijuana the development of adolescents is at risk of heading in the wrong direction. Teenagers and children are also experiencing a shorter period of being unconcerned about what they look like and what other people think of them, due to the influences of celebrity culture on society. They are constantly bombarded with information on the latest celebrity trends, what celebrities wore to award shows and the most recent information on celebrity’s love lives. Emma Watson who was speaking to reporters at the Cannes Film Festival, for the premiere of her new movie ‘The Bling Ring’ says "We are becoming saturated with images. They can embody whatever they [fans] project onto that image, so in a sense people really feel invested; feel connected to that person and that world. It's very different; it has very little to do with reality. It looks a bit like a comic strip. It's a narrative that our society and culture has really become obsessed with."


To conclude then, how do we minimise the potential for harm from this massive industry called celebrity culture? Remember that celebrities are only alluring and glamorous because ordinary people only ever see them in a good light, on the catwalk looking perfect. Would you pay them this massive amount of attention if they were scruffy or unattractive? Bear in mind that celebrities are walking adverts, purely in the business of sales, the selling of themselves and their latest projects. Although you might sincerely want to wear the gown Emma Watson wears at Cannes remember she’s unlikely to own it either and do you really want to live a life like hers, where every move is photographed and put online? Is it really worth having a love hate relationship with someone you do not even know? Would you not be better off to spend your energies establishing strong ties and relationships with people you actually know rather than following someone who doesn’t even know you exist?  Celebrity culture can be entertaining but like junk food consume it infrequently and in small doses!