We can’t help it. Humans are a curious and greedy lot. Celebrities, both here in the US and abroad, represent something that most of the populace will never be. Superstars in modeling, film and prime time television are extremely good looking, generally well-spoken and filthy rich. Whom among us wouldn’t like to have all the money they ever needed, be attractive to both the opposite and same sex as well as be able to handle an appearance in public with poise and an amusing comment on our lips? Very few would be my guess.
You will note that I didn’t include music or politics in the list above. This is a whole other gig. Gore Vidal once referred to American politics as “show business for the ugly” and he would know, having been in the celebrity hotbeds on both coasts all his life. A pleasing face used to weigh heavily on the shoulders of film actors, though sometime in the 50s, around the time of James Dean, the prettiness left film and the “real” person look came in. In the last decade or so, this trend has headed in the direction of television and most movie stars today are again, quite simply stunning. Most, mind, not all as the bad guys are quite often physically unattractive.
As to music, it’s like the ballet. You don’t have to have a great face, all you need is a great body to dance. The music superstars are rarely attractive and don’t have to be. The “bad boys” of rock and roll for instance don’t necessarily serve up a platter of pretty pusses. One may be crazy for Keith Richards’ guitar acumen, but the man’s face is a train wreck. Mick Jagger and Steven Tyler are in a long standing contest as to who has the uglier mug in the business. For years Rod Stewart and Ron Wood argued over who would stand stage left as that’s where their noses looked smaller. The bottom line is that you require the voice or the instrumental skill in music, not the face. A face will get you a place for a short time, but without the actual ability, the no-talent pretty boys and girls will be gone in a couple of years whereas the old road dogs mentioned before have been around for 40 years and will continue on until they die.
Reading about this lot, or hearing news of them on TV or radio does many things for we unsung members of the human race. It reminds us of what we are not. This serves to do one of two things; make us work harder pursuing our dreams or depress us to the point of contemplating suicide. This last is not meant as a darkly witty comment. It is meant to be taken literally and considered when eying one’s children. Death is bad enough, a youngster’s taking of his or her own life is nigh on unbearable. Today’s immediate society has destroyed the childhoods of yore. Now the kids have to have the latest clothes, the killer shades, the fabulous hair and whatever the Internet tells them ad nauseam, or suffer the disdain of their peers. Paris Hilton is someone who is looked up to by little girls on both coasts and in between. The why of this fact will not be addressed here but the reality remains, and if the family isn’t wealthy, the kids are gonna have a tough time.
This certainly is not to say that all teen suicides are caused by celebrity worship. Hardly; there are innumerable factors and this is only one. Whatever other devils may inhabit an adolescent mind, the realization that they probably won’t attain the heights of a Johnny Depp or whomever can be enough to stun some tender hearts into immediate defeat. This is only a small example of the dark side of the question.
On the other hand, for most, the following of showbiz gossip can bring one back to an earlier day when dreams were young. Life was brand new and anything was attainable if you only worked hard for it. For many, this is what real life is, and celebrity is something to be looked upon as entertainment. Something to chat about, like the weather or the price of gasoline. To see the glitterati enjoying their pretty lives is a harmless pass-time while waiting online at the market before getting back to the daily business of tending the house or farming one’s cube.
For most of us, celebrity news removes one from the mundane for a short spate and eases the everyday stress of living in this high-speed world into which we’ve been thrust.
– Jessie Lilley