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Why we celebrate celebrities

Updated on April 17, 2013
Investigative journalism at its finest?
Investigative journalism at its finest?

News: Dr. Helen Caldicott, actively promoting awareness of the nuclear threat most people think is long over.

Not News: Britney Spears at the VMA Music Awards

A funny thing has happened in our society recently, in the last few decades. We celebrate non-celebrities, and even "celebrate" criminals. And nobody seems to know why, or even notice that it's going on.

Someone used to be "celebrated" for something they did. A Nobel Prize winner. Mother Teresa. Gandhi. A discoverer, explorer, or great inventor. We would all appreciate their own achievements, and we would celebrate them and what they had done. This is what "celebrity" means. We would celebrate them by giving them social noteriety, positive attention, positions of esteem and influence. We would give them fame, as often as not. And we would do all of this because they deserved it.

Today, the media gives fame and noteriety to people not because they have done something particularly valuable, worthwhile, or rewarding - but simply because they are famous or rich or powerful. We give them noteriety - why? Because they already have noteriety? Obviously, some other agenda is at work in the reporting media, and it isn't benevolent. People get noted in the media for no apparent reason, and then disappear from the radar again just as quickly. Others stay in the Golden Rolodex, that select A-list of personalities who seem to get media attention out of nowhere for doing nothing of note, without any cause or effort on their part. What does this in our society today? Whatever it is that drives this media mechanism, it certainly isn't value.

Politicians, whose job it is to represent the People and the wishes of the People, now routinely tell the People what to think, how to act, and what should become policy. We now have political representatives whom we revile and publicly shame everywhere else in life, but listen to with a straight face in the media. In fact, we have people reported in the entertainment and political media who routinely break the law, and not only do we not demand accountability for them from their actions... we continue to report on them as though it was perfectly fine, telling what they did today and quoting something they said at an event.

Fame has replaced celebrity. We used to celebrate heroes. Now we simply have famous villains and non-entities. We report on the activities of people with no apparent skills that set them above the rest, but have become household names known by everyone... simply because they get so much media attention. We have few heroes, and many famous villains today - and we continue to accept this as valid, because it has happened gradually over time. We do not demand accountability of these famous criminals, who seem to have acquired some kind of mythic, legendary aura of status around them simply because people talk about them on the news. They seem above reproach, although a moment's consideration tells us irrefutably otherwise.

Neither do we demand accountability from a media which now only talks about famous criminals, non-entities and microfocuses on completely irrelevant trivia rather than actual reporting on the matters of the day - while society crumbles around us, because the real issues are being dealt with by famous criminals in positions of power and influence, those people aren't held accountable, and so the issues are dealt with in completely inappropriate ways that just don't solve the problems. Have a sneak peek at Iraq 2, the big summer blockbuster Fox News is actively advertising... apparently building on the success we've been having with the Iraq invasion.

We need to take a good long look at our media, and do something that doesn't involve accepting what it has to say without any kind of critical thought or analysis. We need to realize that reporting baseless pablum is not the news, and that we need to demand some actual reporting on something besides what Britney Spears is up to, and what politician made what minor embarassing diplomatic gaffe or funny grammar mistake.

We need some actual news.

Doonesbury, with special thanks to Garry Trudeau for his insightful social commentary.
Doonesbury, with special thanks to Garry Trudeau for his insightful social commentary.


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    • profile image

      pgrundy 9 years ago

      This is a great hub--my feelings exactly. What really bothers me about the Brittany bashing and the ridicule and obsession with these other dysfunctional young women is that it is really reviving misogyny in a way that is so troubling and dangerous. It is just not ok to bash people like this and enjoy it. Plus, all these women are very young and have lived ridiculously unnatural, toxic lives. Meanwhile, 10 year old girls across the country are emulating them instead of women of accomplishment. I swear, it's like we're living infreakin' Gomorrah or something. Thanks for another really good hub.

    • Satori profile image

      Satori 9 years ago from California

      Thanks for your wonderful comments! =)

      Most of what shows up in the mainstream media is "fluff". It's like on the news when they don't show you what's really going on in politics, they lap up official press briefings, don't ask the hard-hitting questions, and don't call politicians even on lies they know about. There's very little actual journalism left, and it's sad. Then, at the end of the news, they'll go, "...and finally tonight, here's two minutes of footage of cats playing the piano!" That's a fluff piece. Well, it's almost all fluff now.

      Britney, Lindsay, Paris. And all the other non-role-model-models out there. I have to remind myself that while their life - and much of their content - is almost totally empty, they're still good people. I don't believe that God makes anyone who's intrinsically a waste of space. Or even air-time. Their choices suck, but they're still good people. It's an opportunity for me to practice compassion. Somewhere in everyone is something worthwhile, and certainly worthy of national and international attention. I wish they'd find it and use it, that's all.

      Meanwhile, the internet is routing around all of this. While the mainstream media finds that its numbers are slipping lower and lower, people are starting to talk about stuff that's actually relevent online. HubPages and sites like it allow us to actually read and deliver content that's actually meaningful, and can revive independant investigative journalism and social commentary once again. People still need the news in some form, and just because it's not being delivered by the mainstream media most of the time doesn't mean no-one else can fill that role. I genuinely feel for a lot of people in mainstream media - even when I don't have an appreciation for most of their content. They could save themselves any time they chose, which is the wild thing about it all. To not do so merely makes their content - and a world that consumes it - meaningless. So I go online and create something meaningful. And people like it. =)

    • desert blondie profile image

      desert blondie 9 years ago from Palm trees, swimming pools, lots of sand, lots of sunscreen

      I completely agree with comments from Shaye. Might have written them differently, but this expresses what I feel. good Hub!!!

    • profile image

      Shaye - The How To Hub 9 years ago

      The photo's on "news" v's "not news" say's it all! This is a very valid hub and I congrat you on writing about society and media. I mean the clowns like britney are just a distraction so that people don't think about how terrible life is for so many in the world today. There is no finer example of the media's current definition of a celebritiy than Paris Hilton. - urgh she is the worst.

    • Trsmd profile image

      Trsmd 9 years ago from India

      Thanks for answering my Request..