Monday, April 21, 2008

Celebrity as a Goal

The British press is a lot different than the American press. Across the pond, they tend to be much more liberal when it comes to things like nudity in their newspapers. But oddly enough, they can also be quite open, more than we are, about what they see wrong in their culture, particularly when it comes to social mores.

Take, for example, this article written by Melanie Cantor, a judge on one of the many performance-based reality shows on British television. As she puts it, “I'm billed as the tough celebrity agent” on the show. Of the contestants she sees, she says:

“Everyone feels they have the right to fame because they know that talent is no longer required. The cult of Big Brother has made it possible for the most stupid to make millions simply on the back of being stupid.

We live in a country where our children no longer aspire to be doctors, nurses, lawyers or teachers - they want to be famous. To them, celebrity is an easy escape from the mundane, a quick route to riches based on no particular skill or effort on their part.”

Isn’t that the truth? And since American television is no better, I wish there were more Americans willing to admit that many, though not all, of the contestants on these shows have no talent and know it. They just want to be celebrities. That’s their only goal in life.

Instead of pointing out how useless the goal of celebrity is, American culture celebrates it. Little girls are given Bratz and Barbie dolls that come with guitars and microphones, not to mention limousines. In school, children are taught songs like “I’m a Star!” that are supposed to build their self-esteem.

But the elusive goal of becoming a celebrity will likely destroy self-esteem instead of developing it. Ms. Cantor makes it plain when describing today’s culture:

"Celebrity is all - Fame is held up as a God to be venerated. Never mind the emptiness, ignore the public scrutiny that might tear your life apart, better to be famous for nothing than to be nothing.

The joy of anonymity has been lost to this next generation.”

Britain is not the only country with this problem. We have it, too. And it’s up to us as parents to present our children with good examples of achievement, not celebrity, if we want our culture to let go of the worship of celebrity status.


The Reluctant Homeschooler said...


When my youngest was in a public elemetary school, I remember her brining home a bound book of photocopied questionnaires that the kids in her class filled in. Each child answered some questions, and the one question that interested me more than favorite food or color was "What do you want to be when you grow up?" No surprise to you that the majority of the children in the class wanted to be actors, rock stars, football players, or famous in some way. I believe that in all, only one girl wanted to be a scientist - something practical. It is a sad statement that our society nurtures children in this sort of environment. Probably the only person in the class who set an achievable goal is the girl scientist.

This is yet one more reason why my own kids don't watch TV!

Brumbemom said...

Barbara, Great post. You are right on with the whole celeb thing. I look at these people who are supposed to be "stars" and even the ones that sing, when just given a microphone, they aren't able to even hit a note hardly. It has all definitely gotten out of control. Our society has turned being "famous" into the ultimate goal.