Friday, June 26, 2009

to be a star

I confess...I've been thinking a lot about celebrity lately.

For years now, I've taken issue with shows like Jon & Kate. If adults chose to broadcast their lives, I suppose that it their decision. But I don't think it is fair to involve children who can't consent. Yes, we allow children to act and such but that really is quite different. We shudder a bit at the way the Dionne quints were treated as a side-show act. But are we doing anything better today? Might it not be even worse since the format endures more and provides lasting evidence.

Part of me takes issue even when the kids aren't immediately involved and have to face the consequences of their parents' public lives. But there's some level of that sort of thing that we'll never escape. There will always be four little boys whose public-figure dad was caught cheating with an Argentine mistress. But we can clamp down on having the children as directly involved as reality TV has allowed.

And then, there's MJ. In a way, he's Celebrity to the n-th degree. He was in the spotlight from a young age and never escaped it. He both embraced it and thrived in it and was eaten up by it. We created him, both the good and the (alleged) bad. If he was guilty of some of the bad acts tied to his name, it is no doubt related to what we did to him from age 5. Excuse? No. But an explanation and something we need to think about.

I did a project in college once on Spectacle in early America (think circus freaks). Really, it has gotten worse, not better. The dog-faced girl may not be a side-show act in a cage. But is it better to be on a Discovery Channel special and to be tracked online?

What responsibility do we have to the celebrities we create?

There's more on this rattling around in my head....

2 comments:

Lauren said...

I definitely think our celebrity-obsessed nation has spiraled out of control since the writer's strike a few years back that resulted in the explosion of "reality TV." We (America, as a generalized-whole) are obsessed with the proverbial 15 minutes of fame. Reality TV made that 15 minutes much more obtainable. Especially if you were willing to air your dirty laundry for the world to watch.

The 'announcement' show of Jon&Kate+8 was the first episode I'd ever watched. I tuned in to see what the fuss was about (and kept thinking, this could be the greatest.marketing.scheme.ever.)

I keep thinking that celebrities ('reality' and 'real') were those kids growing up. The ones who couldn't stand to not be the center of attention. Who tantrumed in the middle of the floor when they weren't getting the attention they wanted. Now, as celebrities, they are stuck in a culture of like-kind beings and tend to 'act out' to regain attention (think Britney, Lohan, MJ, et al.) Even the 'reality stars' (the ones on reality TV that you remember: Imarosa, Kate, etc) need to stay in the spotlight once they are there and seem to create 'drama' in their lives to keep the paparazzi coming back for now. (The same paparazzi that they 'hate' to the public, but would question their self-worth if suddenly the paparazzi weren't there)

And as TMZ, PITNB, ET, and other 'hollywood gossip' portals continue to feed the masses with the gossip/lies/garbage about these attentionwhores, it will never stop.

clg1213 said...

the celeb/paparazzi relationship is definitely symbiotic...neither can survive without the other (at least in their current form).

funny though...celebs complain about invasion of privacy but others become celebs by consenting to the same...