As a society, we’ve started to care so much about celebrities and their private lives that it’s borderline obsessive. With social media, it’s now easier than ever to have insight into many aspects of a celebrity’s personal life. It’s hard to go a day without hearing some new piece of celebrity gossip, whether it’s from Instagram, TikTok, or your YouTube recommended feed. With this increased flow of information, it can seem like you know everything about someone you’ve never met.
Celebrity idolization is when people become overly involved and interested in the lives of celebrities. Idolization comes in varying levels of extremity, from needing to know what a celebrity is doing to full-on stalking. I want to preface this by saying, being a fan of a celebrity is not the same as idolizing them. You can be a fan of someone and their work without being obsessed with them and how they live their lives (unless you’re me stanning One Direction circa 2012). There’s a very fine line between the two.
Among other things, celebrity idolization ultimately gives famous people too much power over those who idolize them. It allows them to manipulate their fanbase and the media, whether it’s purposeful or not. When it comes to the media, celebrities like the Kardashian’s can post a random photo, and it’ll trend simply because of their status, not the content itself. Celebrities can also advise their fans to do something or act a certain way, and chances are they will do it just because someone they idolize said so. This dynamic also causes some people to believe that their favorite celebrities can do no wrong. They think the celebrity they admire is perfect, and anyone that says otherwise is objectively incorrect. So when famous people do make a mistake, as any human does, they can’t be held accountable for their actions without their fanbase stepping in to “defend” them. Along with online harassment, this often leads to heated debates about whether or not [insert celebrity here] did something wrong or if people are just sensitive.
People that idolize also tend to stop seeing celebrities as human beings and instead as objects of entertainment. They appreciate them and treat the celebrities nicely as long as they get what they want out of their “relationship.” They can live their life but only within the parameters of what the public wants. This can obviously be dangerous for the celebrity and cause issues in their personal lives. For example, when a celebrity gets into a relationship, there will often be backlash from members of their fandom that are jealous of their new partner. When it comes to celebrity appearances, this can also come into play. If a celebrity decides to do something different with their hair or get plastic surgery, the public seems to feel it’s their place to offer their opinions on something that has nothing to do with them.
This obsession can also cause deficits in our own lives. There’s the potential to become so involved and obsessed with the lives of celebrities that we neglect what’s important in our own lives and for our own joy. We compare ourselves to those we desperately wish to be, even if it doesn’t make the most sense. This mentality can prove to be highly detrimental when it comes to mental health. Comparison is already a significant issue on an interpersonal level, but comparing yourself to a celebrity or craving their lifestyle is even worse.
We must draw the line between being a fan of a celebrity and idolizing them. It’s perfectly normal and okay to be a fan of celebrities. The distinction comes when the details of that celebrity’s life become important to you and your life. It all comes down to remembering that celebrities are still people, just well known.