By Tabitha R Harris, Opinion Writer
Why man persists in putting his fellow man on a pedestal has always baffled me. For some odd reason, we seem to believe that flesh and blood individuals who possess the same shortcomings and failures as ourselves, are worthy of our worship.
We’ve even coined a term in an attempt to classify this tendency: fangirling. While I don’t believe “fangirling” does accurate justice to our penchant for celebrity worship, it does come quite near the mark.
We virtually melt in their presence and utter bizarre statements such as “I love you!” and “Marry me!” By becoming embroiled in celebrity gossip and celebrity adoration, we set ourselves up for unnecessary disappointment while closing our eyes to reality.
The recent Hiddleswift affair, which came to a crashing halt after a rather hasty yet passionate beginning, garnered much attention and used up quite a bit of Internet space.
I am sure a few girls suffered from broken hearts and shattered dreams the minute pictures of Tom Hiddleston kissing and embracing Taylor Swift hit the media. Another British darling of America had been snapped up and was no longer “on the market”.
The truth of the matter was entirely lost amidst the suspicion of what Andrew Anthony in The Guardian terms “carefully arranged paparazzi cameras” or, worse, staged photos which “look as if a team of PR consultants and fashion stylists had just stepped out of a shot.”
Essentially, the genuineness of Hiddleston and Swift’s romance was irrelevant. All that mattered was the instant Internet gossip which it spawned.
I will not deny that the photos sent a pang of disappointment through my own heart, not because I harbored some deep and irrational hope that Hiddleston and I would one day meet and fall in love, but simply because I disliked his choice. Based on what I had learned of his character through random Internet chatter and the occasional direct quotation from the man himself, I didn’t think Swift was the right girl for him. How absurd!
He would never know what I thought and even if by some miracle, he found out, I doubt my stance on the matter would carry much weight, if any. For some strange reason, I was at one point convinced that my views on such a trivial subject needed to be voiced and discussed with a friend.
The ensuing conversation was perhaps one of the most meaningless exchanges I have ever had.
Interestingly enough, there appears to be scientific backing for our desire to keep up with celebrities and be in the know. Stuart Fischoff, PhD, spokesman for the American Psychological Association, theorizes that our “sociologically preprogrammed [desire] to ‘follow the leader” renders us “biochemical sitting ducks for the Hollywood star system”.
As humans, we naturally look for a banner to rally behind, someone to call our leader. We need a squad, a pack, a group of people we can identify with.Ironically, in our attempt to connect with celebrities, we instead put them in the undignified position of being pounced on by complete strangers looking for a hug, or a signed photo, and generally make them the victims of glorified stalking.
We have singled out sections of the population for constant publicity and worship simply because they pretend to be someone else in front of a camera for a living and make exorbitant amounts of money doing so.
These same individuals are as human as we are, with their own fears, dreams, worries, and joys, yet we “ooh” and “ahh” at them as if they hold the reins of our lives in their very hands. At best, they are trend-setters and occasional role models with precious little bearing on our own lives.
By assigning celebrities a high status, we are all too ready to turn our eyes from the pressing matters which require our actual attention.
World issues, the fate of our nation and of other nations around us; it all seems to pale in comparison with the moment Brangelina ceased to exist.
As Chris Hedges states in a Truth-Out article, “it is more comforting to chat about celebrity gossip and ignore or dismiss what is reality”.
A version of this article appeared in the Tuesday, October 25th print edition.
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