A Culture of Celebrity Obsession


| 7 Comments

Have you ever found yourself obsessing over a beloved celebrity? Had a celebrity crush? Found yourself obsessing over the latest scandals faced by a shunned starlet? Been quick to drop six dollars on a tabloid of questionable reputation? Apparently you are far from being alone.

Americans and residents of other nations have traditionally been obsessed with the lives of the rich and the famous. According to an ABC article, after studies were conducted by the University of Pennsylvania on 600 people, it was found that 1/3 of people have a condition dubbed "celebrity worship syndrome" to some degree. Most psychiatrists agree that the condition is caused by a need to escape from reality. With all the struggles faced by the world as we enter the new millennium, keeping up with the "fabulous" lives of celebrities provides an opportunity to escape personal hardships for a while. Fantasizing for a brief stint of time allows people to simply hide from their troubles by focusing on the life of someone else.

Although in most cases this "celebrity worship syndrome" is just a minor part of a person's life, in some cases this obsession can become quite unhealthy and even dangerous. The researchers at the University of Pennsylvania split celebrity obsession into three categories.  The weakest level, entertainment social, is just a basic interest in the celebrity in question; the person simply enjoys keeping up with what is currently going on in the celebrity's life. In the next level, intense personal, the obsessed feels that they have a personal connection to the celebrity; they may feel strong emotions such as love or hate toward the celebrity. Celebrity obsession can escalate to the third level, borderline pathological, when the obsessed feels the need to act on the emotions they feel toward a celebrity. They become the stalker that many celebrities have encountered and fear.

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The tabloid industry has met huge success in exploiting this human obsession with the rich and famous. Instead of merely dealing with our problems, we choose to fantasize who are unlikely to matter in the future. Rather than stressing about personal issues, many have found it easier to worry about what Snooki is up to.

What kind of society have we become? How did we get this way? What part of the human mind allows this obsession? Is there a way to prevent becoming "obsessed"?

            As disgusted as I am with this topic, if anyone else can find additional information, please share!

7 Comments

Daniel,
This blog is really interesting. Just the other day I was talking to some of my friends about why we're so addicted to Keeping Up With The Kardashians and we found that it wasn't the plots, or even the fashion that got us hooked, it was that it provided us with an hour or two of mindless activity. Some people think that watching reality TV shows or reading gossip magazines is horrible for society, but I think it's a good thing. Watching shows like this allows us to relax and forget about our problems for a short period of time. In circumstances where you need to cool off or remove yourself from a situation, this can be a great thing! Also, an episode of mindless television can be used as a reward for working really hard the whole day. This article, written for the Today Show, mentions that some people watch reality TV to feel better about themselves. So many shows, for example, Teen Mom, and Hoarders, are daily reminders of how good we actually have it in our own lives.

I found this blog to be quite interesting. I myself am obsesses with reality television shows, magazines, and celebrities. But, in society today I find that quite normal. Reading these magazines or watching these shows is sometimes a way to temporarily escape from your own life for an hour or two and imagine yourself as a rich and famous celebrity like Kim Kardashian. It is so hard for someone to not be obsessed or at least interesting in celebrities, gossip, and reality television because it is all over the place. Think about it, if you turn on the T.V. there are channels devoted to reality T.V. shows. Channels such as bravo or MTV are constantly showing reality T.V., whether you believe that it is true or not. When you really think about it, it is easier to follow celebrity gossip and more interesting, than go about your daily life. It is everywhere in the media and hard to avoid.

I watch reality television but I am more into TV shows. For me, it does take me away from the stresses of life and brings me somewhere else for an hour. I agree with the comments above that its’ not necessarily bad. I mean if you have an obsession on a celebrity to the point that you stalk them then that’s obviously a problem. How do people get obsessed with things and get OCD? That is a good question indeed. I don’t know what the answer is but I think it begins with your level of a social life and what’s important to you. TV shows are very important to me but I won’t miss work or a meeting for them but I will watch them regardless of the amount of schoolwork I have to do. I am also ok with watching them online if I have to but I prefer to see them when they premiere. I like being able to follow a storyline and watch character development and things of that nature. If I didn’t have my TV shows I would go crazy in college. I need something to balance out the work that doesn’t involve partying and drinking all the time. (Not that I do that). Everything in moderation is the key to life.

I feel like most of the time people "obsess" over celebrities out of boredom or nothing to talk about, and watch all of those reality TV shows for entertainment. I don't think it's a huge problem or a true obsession, people just like to gossip! People who are REALLY obsessed must keep in mind that celebrities lives aren't always what they are made out to be! For me at least, I would get so annoyed with cameras following me and trying to catch me at embarrassing moments and stuff like that! Also, they should remember that being a celebrity has a huge price to pay- leaving your family for travel, working a lot, getting followed, and having almost no privacy. People need to look at the goods and bads before wishing they were a celebrity.

This is a great blog! I personally have so many celebrity favorites from Michael Jackson to Tiger Woods. My friends actually get very annoyed with how much I talk about some of them. It is very strange how our society can get to a point where we do "worship" someone, almost because of their wealth. What you have to look at though is some may be an inspiration to people. I love acting and singing, why wouldn't I be looking up to such an icon such as Michael Jackson to inspire myself to be what I want to be. I also love golf, why not watch the greatest golfer of all-time in Tiger Woods? I like your view on it still, just a little bit of my opinion on it.

This blog caught my attention!
Although the third level of celebrity obsession seems to be quite dangerous. Do you feel that the increase in "reality" television and the drama and excitement it promotes helps in facilitating these obsessions?
Though I do not watch reality tv that often and laugh at my friends who tend to be a bit obsessed, even I can't help but stop and look at the covers of those magazines when I pass by at the checkout line (or tune into an episode or two of the lasest reality show). Are some of us predisposed to have a bit of a fascination with celebrities and the lives that they lead?

As a bit of a development to my blog, I found another side to the debate. As weird as it may sound, some recent studies have shown that this obsession with celebrities could even be healthy. In a study of more than 300 students it was found that those who admitted to having a celebrity crush were found to have higher self-esteem than those who lacked a crush. The fake relationship that the person has with a celebrity actually makes them feel more socialized. This kind of goes with Nia's comment, the obsession may be ok or even beneficial if it doesn't go to far. Although I found this interesting, I still think society is too obsessed with celebrities.
Here's a link to the article I found: http://healthland.time.com/2012/02/27/oscar-fixation-why-are-we-obsessed-with-celebrities/

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