Sunday, June 28, 2009

Idol Worship: The religion of Celebrity

This week has seen the coming and going of more cultural icons than our celebrity-obsessed culture knows what to do with. And all the hubbub has made me wonder what in Hollywood's hot hell we're thinking and why we care so much about these individuals?

I like to be entertained as much as the next person (though my version of entertainment generally involves bad online TV accompanied by Chinese take out and a 12 pack of Diet Coke), but my relationship with the entertainer ends when the show/movie/song does. Jennifer Aniston and Angelina Jolie are not my best friends (though they may play them on TV), Brad Pitt is not my boyfriend, and Kanye West is not my spiritual adviser (despite his attempts at prophecy).

While Michael Jackson’s untimely passing is undoubtedly a tragedy, we’d not heard new music from him since 2001. He was last in the news for controversial molestation charges and massive debt. And while mourning him, I understand--a fellow human being has passed too soon--one that we felt like we knew through his music, one who'd earned our compassion for his troubled childhood and saddened spirit--it's the parades and idolization and worldwide pandemonium following his death that I'm not sure I comprehend. He was a human. And humans die. Especially ones that undergo frequent elective surgery and ingest oodles of scrips over a lifetime. And I think our reaction as a society begs the question--what are our priorities? Why do we choose to revere some people as gods and dismiss others as insignificant? How are we still, in 2009, practicing idol worship?

No comments: