Why is our society so obsessed with celebrities? It’s strange, really. We seem to live vicariously through them. Most of us keep up with celebrities on Snapchat or Instagram. We flip through celebrity gossip magazines while we wait in line at the grocery store. And we regularly watch entertainment news, which feature stories about our favorite celebrities: from their fashion choices to their most recent breakups. But why do we care? Why does it matter what color Kylie Jenner’s lips are today, or tomorrow, or any other day? The answer is multiplex.
For one, the supply of outlets has increased. Thanks to social media, we know what celebrities are doing 24/7. In a sense, we feel as though we are a part of their lives. One look at Instagram and we can figure out where they are and what they’re doing at any given moment. But prior to the 90s, there were very few sources for celebrity news. In fact, most sources comprised of either televised or printed information. Soon after, the rise of magazines and the Internet made for a dramatic increase in celebrity news consumption. The addition of social media has only intensified the connection we seem to feel with our favorite celebrities.
Our strange obsession with celebrities also stems from the sense of escapism they give us. Their fancy homes, expensive cars, and glamorous wardrobes appeal to us as a means of escape. But how could they not? Take me, for example. I’m a junior in college. On a good day, I make it to the bus stop just in time to catch a ride. Most of the time, I wear yoga pants and a sweatshirt to class. I buy my makeup at the drug store down the street. And the most glamorous party I’ve ever been to was located in the basement of the frat next door. So, yeah, you could say that my fascination with celebrities has a little bit to do with the sense of escapism they give me.
Lastly, they intrigue us. We are inundated with news about celebrities. They seem to have it all: money, looks, fame. And just enough drama to keep things interesting! I often find myself leaning over to my friends while watching a celebrity’s Snapstory and saying, “Can you imagine?” Whether we hate them or love them, it seems as though we just can’t get enough of celebrities.
But perhaps the more important question is this: Is our obsession with celebrities unhealthy? In some respects, yes. It could be argued that our fixation with celebrities creates a disconnect with reality (which I find ironic, considering many of our favorite celebrities are reality stars). It could also be argued that these celebrities are harmful to young children, whose behavior is easily influenced. For example, children may recognize the behavior on television (whether good or bad) as normal, when in reality it is anything but. That being said, I don’t necessarily believe that celebrity obsessions (in moderation) are all bad. Celebrities can be inspiring, too. They can make us laugh and cry, and give us a little break from the hecticness of our own lives. As long as we understand the difference between a celebrity and an idol, I believe that a little fascination here and there is just fine.