Sunday, October 25, 2009

Modern Day Voyeurism

Today I’d like to talk about an epidemic that’s sweeping across the nations of the world, celebrity culture. Pick up any newspaper or magazine, switch on the radio and even on serious news there’s always something about some celebrity. I believe I’ve rightly diagnosed us all as modern day voyeurs, that is to say we find satisfaction in finding out what happens to the rich and famous. We are addicts of celebrity lives and the paparazzi are our dealers.
I think it’s fair to say that children and teenagers do look up to celebrities as role models but gossip publications have exploited our need for role models, Britney Spears being the perfect example. Without a doubt she’s one of the biggest names in the world, she’s young, beautiful and talented. From the start of her career she’s been emulated by little girls and teenagers everywhere and immediately she became fodder for the paparazzi. Starting innocently with whether or not her breasts were real, the paparazzi have been following her and taunting her into some very public breakdowns. But it’s not the paparazzo’s fault, it’s ours! We’re the ones who buy the magazines and we’re the ones who need to know what Britney will do next!
The most extreme incident our celebrity obsessions would have to have been in 1996. Icelandic singer Björk attacked a reporter in Thailand that had been harassing her for days. In September of the same year obsessed fan Ricardo López tried to kill Björk with an acid spraying bomb because he didn’t like Björk’s public attack. This is the perfect example of how this obsession with celebrity culture can drive us to.
I want to pose you all a question, how exactly does the break-up of Katie Price and Peter Andre affect your life in anyway? This obsession distracts us from people of real importance and power. Someone I know recently did a project on Black history; the only person of any real importance he came up with was Oprah Winfrey, he’d never heard of Rose Parks, Nelson Mandela, Jesse Owens, etc.
I admit that like most people I’ve bought and read a gossip magazine or two, but we have to realise when an interest becomes and obsession. There is one good thing that comes from this obsession, at least people are reading more. Granted it’s not poetry or novels but it’s still reading.
Another factor involved in the obsession with celebrity culture is our own obsession with becoming rich and famous. This desire has been exploited by corporations and reality TV was created. Traditional values have been raped by producers for our “enjoyment”. I don’t know about you but I can not stand reality tv, the desperation of half the contestants is pathetic, not entertaining.
There is one TV show that constantly mocks the celebrity culture but at the same time makes very valid points: South Park. Since the pilot episode they’ve poked and prodded at our need for celebrities and their lives. One of the funniest incidents being in one episode where Britney Spears urinated on a ladybug and the whole world went crazy. It’s ironic that if that happened in real life it would probably have the exact same reaction. The paparazzi would go crazy for this story and we’d go crazy to read about it.
I recently wrote a blog that touches on a similar subject matter. I asked the readers of my blog if we, human beings, are inherently cruel beings, we laugh at the thought of people being hurt in ridiculous accidents. Well it’s the same thing, we enjoy talking about the miseries of the rich and famous. Celebrity gossip is quickly becoming the bread and butter of all conversations, whatever happened to intelligent conversation?
I hope I’ve outlined this growing epidemic without sounding too self-righteous, only we the public can put a stop to this modern day voyeurism. The next time you want to read pick up a book, not a gossip magazine. Talk about Dalí, not if Lady Gaga is really a man or not. Don’t obsess yourselves with the lives of people you don’t and never will know.

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