I feel like I’ve watched hundreds of celebrities fall from grace recently. It’s empowering to watch bad people exit stage left, but watching how torn up people have been over their favorites falling has led me back to something I haven’t spent much time thinking about since a group of my friends were neck deep into the One Direction fandom years ago.
Hint: It’s about celebrity worship.
There is nothing wrong with liking a celebrity. There is nothing wrong with loving their work and buying every album or movie the moment it comes out. What’s concerning is when celebrities pass “my favorite _____”, then pass “my role model”, and land in “my idol”.
Idols are problematic in general, from a religious standpoint, but they’re problematic without that take too. People have hold their favorite celebrities up as untouchable. Anything they do wrong is immediately dismissed. They are to be imitated. They are to be worshiped as gods among us.
It doesn’t seem like that big of a concern most the time, because I’m not around it much. I’m an adult. We grow out of these stages, or at least, most of us do. We shake it off and move on with our lives. However, there are times when I fall into the depths of Twitter or Tumblr and I find out that the worlds teenagers are spending their youth obsessing with other’s lives on social media. They’re making blogs for them. They’re posting daily pictures of them. They know what hotel they are staying at tonight. And it’s absolutely toxic for them.
They are falling so far down the celebrity rabbit hole that they’re losing valuable time in their own lives. They are getting in fights with people defending people they have never met. They are focusing on a fictional relationship rather than real ones.
I think it’s easy to forget how obsessive children and teenagers can be when you’re outside their daily lives. We forget how we latched on to things with all our might. I’ll be the first to admit, I did it with book series. Anyone remember Twilight? (of course you do) The books were out when I was in middle school and I loved them, deeply, obsessively. Luckily it all passed before the movies and the empire really built up. I never had time for my book obsession to grow pass words on a page. And I am lucky, because when our obsessions are based on real people, they become concerning, because people are people, they aren’t perfect, they make mistakes, and some of those mistakes aren’t ones that should be easily forgiven.
Yet they are when you “stan” them. They are when you idolize them.
Not only are people imitating celebrities behavior, dress, and aesthetic, they are excusing any of their mistakes. I noticed a big trend when I was in my late teens that drove me insane. People would excuse celebrities my age by saying “they’re just children!” It bothered me because I knew that I would never be given the same excuse, and I knew that I shouldn’t be, because I was old enough to know better. So were these celebrities, they were just excused because people held them in such high regards that their mistakes didn’t count, not even for a brief moment.
Our society spends a lot of time trusting people into the spotlight, but the only thing the spotlight judges is popularity, it doesn’t judge personality, morality, character, it doesn’t even judge skill. These people standing in the light are as deeply flawed as us, which is why it’s important to hold them to the same standards. It’s important to strip them of their idol status, move them down to role model, and if possible, move them all the way back into “My favorite _____.”
Because that’s all they are, people whose work you enjoy, people who you enjoy hearing about.