For a very long time, the public have looked to ‘the celebrity’ for entertainment and amusement, often with admiration or aspiration.
In football we’ve seen allegations of racism against Chelsea player John Terry over his behaviour towards QPR’S Anton Ferdinand, and Luis Suarez refusing to shake Patrice Evra's hand. In music, Whitney Houston’s death shocked the world, with many suspecting the cause of death to be a drug overdose. In news, the Royal Wedding of Kate Middleton and Prince William overtook the press with pictures covering double page spreads and even entire booklets.
Has the idea of ‘the celebrity’ taken over the world? Recently in the news and in current affairs, it has become much easier to question what ‘the celebrity’ stands for, and whether it’s justified.
I noticed that Whitney Houston’s and Amy Winehouse’s deaths didn’t come as a surprise to many. After years of drug abuse and exposure to situations where it may have been difficult to say no, it’s not too shocking that they died from abusing their bodies.
Opinions are divided into two sides.
One, that they were victims of their environment; they had difficult lives and drugs may have been an easy release, even though it may not have been the right ones. The second that they should have fought against drugs, and not given in to their environment and their past, and that their death was their own fault and we shouldn’t pity them.
I don’t think everything is as black and white as this; there is always room for the grey area. I don’t personally know what they suffered from, or the extent of their suffering, so in that aspect yes I do feel some sympathy. However, so many people suffer the same and worse, and they still don’t take drugs; they resist and fight back and in doing so are stronger for it.
The Royal Wedding is another example of when ‘the celebrity’ seemed to become the most important thing in the world. Over continents and countries, Kate and William’s faces blew up on screens and TV’s and people excitedly waited for the moment where Kate’s dress would be revealed.
Suddenly a piece of fabric, albeit extremely well made and gorgeous, became one of the most important materials in the world. The economic crisis was glossed over and billions of people were glued to their TV screen. The monarchy in Britain played arguably a more important role in the past, and yet they suddenly became everyone’s focus. What would the Queen wear? What would X wear? What would Y wear? Why were X and Y wearing those extremely hideous dresses?
Has celebrity become over-rated? Does it mean what it meant in the past? Or is it now an excuse for the public to stalk others or for the celebrity themselves to behave badly?
I think it’s fair enough to say that when one person’s suffering suddenly becomes a global tragedy, and the suffering of millions because of lack of food and malnourishment gets overlooked, something has gone wrong in the system. Maybe that’s our fault for promoting ‘the celebrity’, maybe it’s the fault of the media. But it is still a fault.