We are a world of consumers.
Why else would ‘Love Island’ be gripping the attention of so many TV viewers in recent weeks? People love to watch others humiliate themselves, get involved in antics and escalate themselves to celebrity status overnight. And perhaps, in depressing periods of a country’s recent history, it provides some light relief.
Celebrity is a bizarre concept in and of itself. Defined as most dictionaries as ‘being famous’, there comes a certain level of ambiguity about who falls under that category.
Jeremy Corbyn, the leader of the Labour Party, has captured the minds of many young voters and is certainly ‘famous’. Is he a celebrity?
Myra Hindley, in her savage acts upon innocent children at a time when women were rarely thought to be as depraved as men, has become one of Britain’s most notorious killers. Her fame is never used to label her a celebrity.
It’s often said the title of celebrity has devolved over time. Many would look to the celebrities fifty years ago and draw an unflattering comparison with today’s stock.
“We used to have Elizabeth Taylor,Marilyn Monroe, Audrey Hepburn, Charlton Heston and Gene Kelly. People who had talent! Now we have Kim Kardashian…Paris Hilton…Amber Rose. People who are famous just for being famous”.
There’s certainly an element of truth to this. Reality TV wasn’t a concept that even existed in 1967, so the likes of the ‘Cash Me Ousside’ girl would have struggled to gain such infamy as they do today.
But the clamour for celebrity has remained from those ‘simpler times’. The prominence of tasteless, invasive and highly fabricated tabloids speaks to this. Ever noticed how ‘The Sun’ always underpins its latest headline (Usually of a political nature) with a celebrity story? (‘MEL B’S BOYFRIEND SLEEPS WITH NANNY – EXCLUSIVE PICS’)
And I will admit, this mindset is very easy to succumb to.
There’s been times where I’ve wandered into a corner shop, usually to buy a drink, and my eyes will fall onto the magazine section. And for a few guilty minutes, I will eye up the latest headlines. Sensationalist tripe that they are, they are enjoyable to read. And I really hate to say it.
It’s easy to forget the human qualities of a celebrity. When they’re placed on pedestals, made into gods in our modern society and turned into commodities, you forget they’re living real lives. They become public domain, subject to scrutiny and amusement.
On some level, it’s a form of escapism. When you can project onto a celebrity, you can escape your repetitive life to dissect somebody else’s for a while.
You can fantasize about living in a luxurious mansion like Kylie Jenner.
You could ponder the complications of Beyoncé and Jay Z’s marriage.
You can laugh as the latest celebrity breakdown spirals out of control.
Why? Because it’s not happening to you. You get to form a collective and be part of a culture that are united in their observance of celebrities. Virtually everybody will have an obituary to post to their Facebook after a famous death, even if they never really cared beforehand.
I’m not even going to act as if I’m apart from this. This is hardly a condemnation of celebrity culture, when I’m embroiled in it all, head over heels. Perhaps I’m perturbed by the adoration poured upon Kim Kardashian, but I’ll still click on the article detailing her latest controversy. It’s like a recurring cycle that we all hate a little bit, but love a lot more.