A New Age of Celebrity Worship
Experts help you understand the good, the bad, and the ugly of being the world's biggest fan.
Fans Gone Wild: What Makes Us Tick
While our DNA may set us up for star worship, it's clear not everyone takes
it to the extreme. For those that do, Fischoff says the mania is, in a way, a
star-studded egg just waiting to hatch.
"A lot of these people who fall deeply into celebrity worship are just
abnormal pathology waiting to happen. The fact that it comes out in the form of
idolization of a particular celebrity is less important than recognizing the
pathology was there all along. And if it was not focused on a celebrity it
would be focused on something else, but it would still be there."
Aronowitz agrees, but also says entertainment media is at least partly to
blame for creating the "monster" known as the celebrity superfan.
"The whole Hollywood spin machine works together to create images that
are impossible for any of us to live up to. They purposefully set us up to
admire and even covet something we can never have," says Aronowitz.
Then, she says, when we are completely vulnerable, they sell us the image
even harder -- from headlines that titillate us with "celebrity
secrets," to the books, diets, cosmetics, foods, jewelry, and clothes that
promise we'll be closer to the ones we adore.
"There are fortunes being made by turning fans into victims and all it
starts by creating that frenzy known as celebrity worship," says
Ironically, however, almost as quickly as the media builds our celebrity
heroes, they break them via the increasingly growing practice of hanging a
star's dirty laundry out for all to see. And it is this practice, says
Aronowitz, which can have some very twisted and negative effects on fans.
"Prior to Marilyn Monroe, a star's life was hidden from the public. But
now, instead of a glossy ideal, we see celebrity's ugly messes, including their
drug and alcohol abuse, which, for many who admire these people, translates
into a very dangerous message," says Aronowitz.
Indeed, a study published in the journal Lancet showed that
adolescents who viewed smoking in movies were more likely to begin the habit
themselves. Others have hinted the same may be true for drug and alcohol use,
as well as eating disorders such as anorexia, which can develop when fans try
to emulate the unrealistic low weights of their favorite stars.
Moreover, extreme copycat desires of some can even turn deadly, when the one
we worship takes -- or loses -- his or her life.
"Some, mostly young fans, can become so overwhelmed by the loss that
they themselves begin to believe their life is not worth living," he