Celebrities control cultural standards
You know their names. You know their stories. From the Kartrashians to the Opera Winfrey’s our lives are dominated by these icons. We, as a culture have developed into blind consumers, constantly seeking out gratification from others’ experiences and lives.
But why? Why have we become so numb to our own real world experiences that we exploit those of entertainers? Furthermore, why has this brand of consumerism, developed into it’s own twisted form of entertainment? Are celebrities responsible for the example they set forth through their platform?
Daniel Kruger, evolutionary biologist at the University of Michigan, states that our obsession with celebrity gossip is due to two things; the first, “learning what high-status individuals do so you might more effectively become one,” and the second being based out of a need to better engage in social interactions by “knowing what is going on with high status individuals.”
Studies also show that we as humans gain a certain amount of pleasure from hearing about others’ secrets, lives, and general scandals.
In one study in the Social Neuroscience, volunteers were subjected to brain scans while hearing positive and negative feedback, and surprisingly the brain activity displayed an increase when hearing negative feedback about their friends and celebrities. Some speculate that our desire to be in the know is derived from our ancestor’s fixation with saints, martyrs, kings, and other high-end figures. However, this introduces a dangerous comparison to our modern society: celebrities are the new kings.
So, in the grand scheme of things, what civic duty do celebrities have to sustain a sense of morality to be worthy of such privilege? Well, my knee-jerk reaction is to justify any celebrity’s mistakes or faults on his or her status of being human and that we as a society should interpret his or her actions as reasonable under duress; however I also feel like we as a society perpetuate negative stereotypes and behaviors by encouraging celebrities through media exposure.
For example, everyone had something to say about the Miley Cyrus “Wrecking Ball” music video. In fact, if you ask anybody they probably have something to say about the artist herself; however, the video was meant to be artistic (as the artist herself claimed), and while I as an adult woman have set notions of my own self worth and value, an impressionable younger girl with instant access to any social media outlet could see things like that and then equivocate her own worth to being connected to nudity. And while Cyrus is an adult with full control over her own body, is there a certain amount of responsibility and tact that should be taken when releasing artistic content to the public?
I can’t say that I’m a promoter of censorship, in fact in most aspects I’m all for the choices and consequences to be made by the people and for the people; but young women all around the globe struggle with body image issues, self image, self worth; depression is at an all time high; bulimia and anorexia are becoming more common. And one has to wonder if there is a certain amount of correlation to the mass media exposure to images and content suggesting women are without worth unless they meet body standards and strip down.