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 continued...
"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
Healthy, Happy, and Star Struck
While for some, celebrity worship can be unhealthy, experts say that for
most of us, it's a pleasant diversion that can actually improve our lives. This
is particularly true when the object of our interest sets a good example that
helps us strive to achieve our own ideals.
"If you idolize someone for their accomplishments, and those
accomplishments spurn you on to make gains in your own life, then admiring a
celebrity can have a positive influence on your ambition, or even your mental
health," says Aronowitz.
Indeed, many say that the popularity of Donald Trump's hit show The
Apprentice and his own new-found star status stemmed from the fact that
both he and the show provided a can-do attitude that inspired many young
viewers to move forward on their own dreams. This mirrors the success -- and
the feverish fan base -- for shows like American Idol, the Hollywood
dream machine that showcases fresh talent from around the country.