A recurring theme that drifts in and out of my thoughts over time is the question of why anyone pays even the slightest attention to the opinions expressed by those individuals who have inexplicably been blessed with the cultural designation: Celebrities.
Hardly a day goes by in which one television or movie “star” (I use that term loosely and with a lower case s) or another isn’t pontificating on some pet cause, social controversy, or political issue.
Their points of view are then splashed across the internet, the covers of pulp magazines, and the 24/7 news channels as if we more commonplace folk should stop what we’re doing, sit up, and take notice.
It occurred to me that if I truly understood what a celebrity is, I might be able understand why their thoughts and viewpoints should be of such great importance to me.
Ce·leb·ri·ty n. pl.
1. A famous person
2. Renown; fame
That’s it! As the saying goes, there ain’t no more!
I couldn’t find a single definition which established any level of wisdom, understanding, knowledge, educational achievement, or intellectualism as a criteria for being recognized as a celebrity.
There’s nothing associated with celebrity status that would deem any celebrity’s opinions to be of any greater value than my own or of those held by the guy down the street who’s using his gas blower to chase his leaves into his neighbor’s backyard.
During my search for answers, I did find this explanation of celebrity offered by the writer, historian, and attorney Daniel Boorstin:
“The celebrity is a person who is known for his well-knownness.”
Bingo! That pretty well sums it up for me.
If I had to take a stab at providing an answer to my own question, I’d have to say that the value given to the opinions of celebrities is based in part on two cultural trends.
1) All forms of media, driven by 24 hour cable television news cycles, are desperate to find anything even remotely news-worthy to fill their pages, web sites, and airtime.
2) Intellectual laziness. Our desire for instantaneous gratification has led us to look for quick and easy solutions, rather than taking the time to think too deeply or for ourselves.
I wonder what Oprah would have to say about this?