After Katy Perry’s album release and Taylor Swift’s perfectly timed return to Spotify (in which she gave fans her entire music library back in one night, which some argue is a move in her “feud” with Perry), I’ve been thinking about celebrities, PR culture, and what these mean for those who don’t attend award shoes and bask in the glow of the spotlights on the red carpet.
I dove down the rabbit hole of blog posts, tweets, and other article analyses about celebrities and the golden world they live in. Most of what I read discussed the personas of famous pop stars and how they’re well-crafted, brand images that cover the real person beneath. What I also discovered was something I subconsciously had picked up over the years: those in the media have a burning desire to expose the real characters and personalities of celebrities. This goal remains mostly elusive. How can you tell the difference between a sincere, genuine person and someone wearing the mask of a sincere, genuine person to sell their latest single, product, or just their own image?
And that, my friends, is why celebrity culture and our society is so sad sometimes.
We grow up worshiping the golden boys and girls of Hollywood, digesting their fake personas and eating up tabloid rumors with perfectly timed scandalous photos. Dessert is a good old-fashioned celebrity feud, a savage twitter war, or a classic comeback story that anyone can get behind. At the end of the day, such drama is only a break from our own “normal people” lives. But I think it holds more negative weight than we often realize.
If society is telling us that being famous (which is associated with wealth, happiness, and success) is the most important or interesting thing we can be, then the meaning of other important life lessons such as kindness, respect, and generosity are often lost. Celebrities usually aren’t always embodying the best traits one could harbor (even if it looks like they are), and by reacting to them on social media, we aren’t either. The acts of publicly spewing hate towards someone, spreading rumors, and cultivating our own perfect images on social media can be a form of collateral damage of fame in today’s society.
And what about the pressure to attain the perfect physical and character narrative of a celebrity? The fake persona that matches the often airbrushed or unattainable looks? What about the thousands of Instagram fan accounts dedicated to posting pictures of celebrities? What are we supposed to think, staring at this Hollywood public relations machine? There’s no way to tell who’s real, who’s genuine, and who is truly a good role model. It’s like high school for the rich and famous, a playing field between the gods and goddesses of fame, the rest of us watching in stands, seeing who takes who down, who dates who, who’s prettiest in a bikini, who is getting a divorce, and who lost all of her post-pregnancy baby weight the fastest. All the while, there’s real life to be living.
Read books, meet new people, turn your phone off for a day, travel. The list is endless. All you have is your life at the end of the day. Getting caught up in celebrity drama can be fun for a hot minute, but it’s easy to forget that famous people are often playing perfectly marketed personas instead of an actual person like yourself. I encourage you to turn your attention to your own life and those of your friends and family. The real one, not always found staring at you from photos on your social media accounts. That’s a narrative that can never be faked.