Cult of Personality

Written by Joan Stevenson—

When I was a teenager I was fascinated with celebrities: musicians, movie stars, and TV stars. I used to read Rona Barrett’s gossip magazine and I never missed an episode of Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous. The introduction of a new TV show called Entertainment Tonight also fueled my celebrity fire. There was NO internet so there was no rapid fire worldwide exposure for the spread of news. As I grew up, my “obsessions” faded to a certain extent and centered on the few entertainers I was truly a fan of, but it seems over the years that modern society has latched on to this culture of celebrity, or cult of personality.

Recently I was in a situation where I had to be in a waiting room for a while. There was a television, but I had no control over the channels so I was forced to watch what was on. There were three programs in succession: Extra, Dish Nation, and TMZ. By the time these shows were over, my head was ringing. It was pounding! I’m sure my ears were bleeding. I couldn’t wait to get to a book, a blog, NPR or anything to resuscitate my brain because it was definitely flat lining. I could feel my intelligence drain away cell by cell. Dish Nation almost did me in completely with their lively debate over who had the best ass: J-Lo, Kim Karsahsian, or Nicki Minaj. Why this obsession? Celeb culture is a disease, one we’re all infected by and one we’re all guilty of spreading.

Paparazzi swarm like flies chasing down their prey (to the point of death in the case of Princess Diana). Feeding the public’s constant craving for celeb pop gossip, the paparazzi are about a couple of steps below the NSA. They’re spying on celebs shopping, dining, at the beach. Ah yes, the beach. There’s a favorite spot so we can see who has a beach body and who doesn’t because we all need to see if J-Lo lost that 10 pounds they swear she needs to loose. Nip slips anyone?

Case in point, two recent events have had pop culture in an uproar: Kim and Kanye’s wedding and the Jay-Z/Solange fight. It seemed that everywhere you turned you kept hearing about both situations. All of the details leading up to the wedding: location, guests, dress, etc. were hotly debated. Vegas was taking odds on whether or not the wedding would take place at all (now they’re taking bets on how long the marriage will last). That wedding was rammed down your throat at every turn. There is no reason why I should know that Kimye’s wedding cost over $30 million dollars. I don’t care!  I am just appalled by the amount of time and energy put into this by the media machine. As for the elevator fight seen ’round the world… Queen Bey stands back as little sis Solange starts swinging on her man. Everyone, everywhere has seen the footage, but everyone, and I mean everyone, has an opinion or a theory about what happened. I heard it in conversations all around me. It’s hard not to get sucked into the speculation sometimes. Genuine curiosity I guess, but the only people who know what really went on in that elevator are the people who were in that elevator. It’s incidents like that, that keep pop culture vultures feeding on the carrion of their idols.

Comedian Russell Brand commented on pop culture and I think he sums it up best:

“Popular culture functions to prevent synaptic connections occurring in our mind so we can’t think properly, like you’ll be formulating a thought, cause we’re sentient human beings on our way to enlightenment, a thought will be formulating, then popular culture functions like a pink pony trotting through our brains shitting glitter; preventing us from thinking properly.”

If that’s true then a severe amount of Americans alone are glitterifically brain dead. It does kind of kill your brain cells. Really, it does. Try watching an episode of Extra or TMZ, and then after see if you find it difficult to actually have a rational thought.

I honestly wonder what it would be like to wake up in a world without pop culture. Think about that for a moment. Really stop and think about that. No twitter, no ET, Extra, TMZ, no celeb pop-culture blogs. No entertainment news of any kind. For just a few hours, what would the flow of humanity be like without having to hear about the latest train wreck or witnessing the latest celebrity transgression on viral video? What would it be like not to hear about the latest Justin Beiber faux pas. I think it would be like a breath of fresh air cleaning the glitter shit from your brain. Wouldn’t that be wonderful? Sadly, I don’t think that will ever be possible… ever. So I’ll just try to keep away from it as much as possible. Limit my exposure for the sake of my own sanity. I encourage everyone to do the same, to keep a clear… wait….WTF? Oh no, someone didn’t start a petition about Blue Ivy’s hair!


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