Iconic figures have existed across the world for centuries. Leaders, warriors, painters, poets, and more who made history were once notable characters of their time — some of them the very foundation of our history whose creations paved the way to modern times. As we evolve, the idea of what a public figure is has changed. There is now a clear differentiation between entertainment, science, and politics. In the past, idols were praised for their heroic nature and acts among men. Although many of the greatest names to go down in history will always be those who changed the way humanity functioned, most of the icons idolized today are entertainers praised for their image.
Entertainment has become a fickle industry to thrive within. There’s always someone doing something bigger and better. It’s not necessarily the skill, but the overall brand that a person represents in entertainment. With the rise of social media, it has put being a performer in the ultimate spotlight. The youth raised around the growth of Instagram or Facebook is considered a generation of wannabe rock stars. A controversial label that is noted, namely, from a majority of them believing that their purpose would be riches and success in the entertainment industry, which would ultimately deliver the immortality of fame. About half of the people you know probably want to be famous, whether they necessarily have the talent for it or not. This illusion has infiltrated our youth and given birth to a sinister lifestyle known as celebrity culture.
The fascination with celebrities extends beyond admiration for their art; it has become a global phenomenon. Companies such as TMZ run a profitable business off of following major stars around in their daily lives, whether they want them to or not. There is no regulation on the amount of spying someone can do towards celebrities. People will go far to get a good story on a famous figure; it can be worth hundreds of thousands of dollars. This chase hypnotizes fans’ minds, and they consume their personal life with the experiences of a celebrity. As society involve themselves deeply with the idealistic image of the lives their idols live, it becomes clear that this rides the fine line of obsession.
Discussing celebrity culture is nothing new. It flew on to psychology’s radar roughly thirty years ago when Daniel Boorstin described today’s fame best in his book The Image, saying, “The hero was distinguished by his achievement, the celebrity by his image.” It was becoming more apparent that celebrities were no longer discernable by their noble traits, but purely their visibility. This obsession has been fueled in part by the rise of the narcissistic nature of society. We have become increasingly more self-involved and intern more centered around our image. The recent surge of narcissism has heavily influenced the way society functions as a whole.
Being self-involved doesn’t always mean negative; celebrity culture can fuel a particular type of self-obsession that helps the creative mind. The desire for a higher lifestyle motivates us to exist in a mindset outside of the life that we live daily. It gives a chance to understand that with hard work, we may have the opportunity to live like our idols. It allows us to build human connections while creating incredible art. The fine line of narcissism is created by the architect. There is no true limit to how great you can think you are or could be. Where do we draw a clear line through obsession and motivation? There is no clear distinction. The only certainty is that art is a frequent occurrence amongst them both.