Our unhealthy relationship with celebrities

Jenette McCurdy at an awards show.

Eva Rinaldi | Wikimedia Commons

Jenette McCurdy at an awards show.

Today, the obsession with celebrities appears to be at an all-time high. The internet and social media have only amplified this obsession.

Celebrities have been a huge part of our culture since what feels like the beginning t of time. It’s hard to pinpoint who the first modern celebrity was. Financial Review claims that it’s Oscar Wilde, Vox claims that it was Sarah Bernhardt, and History Today claims it was Giuseppe Garibaldi.

We can argue about who the first true celebrity was, but we cannot argue our collective  obsession with the details of a celebrity’s life.

“People are obsessed with celebrities for two main reasons,” said Amanda Fedele, a junior at Pace University. “One is that they look up to them and find them inspirational. The second is that they find their lives more interesting than their own, so they enjoy concentrating on the celebrity.”

Celebrities live their lives in the public eye and people watch their every move. With that, people tend to  look up to what these celebrities put out into the world. As celebrities document their lives on social media, people can easily relate to what they see. 

We see celebrities walk the red carpets in their expensive gowns and suits, which attracts many to their extravagant lifestyles. Celebrities have all of these cars, houses, clothes, shoes and power. People follow celebrities because they are intrigued by the lavish lives that they see.

Social media has only amplified people’s desire to keep up with their favorite celebrities. People also use social media to voice their opinion on what celebrities do. This can be a great thing, but this could also be a harsh thing as people tend to voice their explicit opinions.

Ally Peto, a freshman at Sacred Heart University, explained that people tweet or comment rude things about celebrities “either for attention or to say their opinion to someone without having to tell them to their face.”

Through social media, people have extremely easy access to their favorite celebrities. People tend to share their explicit opinions through social media because no can truly know it’s them; they have the screen to hide behind. 

Fedele explained that people give explicit responses because there’s a slim chance of a celebrity responding. “[People] are subconsciously jealous of the celebrity and feel that attacking them will make them feel better about themselves,” she said. 

When people say these explicit things about celebrities, it’s sometimes in defense of another celebrity. Some people go to the ends of the earth in order to defend their favorite celebrity, a phenomenon known  as “stan culture.”

Stan culture is a reference to Eminem’s 2000 song “Stan,” which tells the story of an obsessed fan. The song is in the perspective of a letter that a hyper-obsessed Eminem fan is writing to the rapper. The fan is telling Eminem about his pregnant girlfriend, his life in general, and the two previous letters he had sent.

Both Fedele and Peto believe that stan culture is toxic. Peto explains that “it’s so extra and extremely unhealthy,” and Fedele agreed, saying, “stan culture is toxic because it’s not healthy to idolize any human being to such an extreme extent — especially if you’ve never met that person.”

Obsessing over celebrities isn’t a new concept, but it has been especially intensified by social media, especially Twitter and Instagram.