Analyzing our obsession with the rich and famous
If you live in a first world country, you’re guaranteed to run into constant celebrity glorification. There’s just that one famous person who is so down to earth, so loveable, that people can’t help but get obsessed.
How did celebrities become the role models of society? Some call it conformity, but from my standpoint as a psychology major, the obsession is due to a phenomenon known as social proof; to prove they belong to a group, people will adopt the actions of others in that group.
Social proof is also called the boy band effect. Pretend you’re an adolescent girl. On TV and at school you see other girls your age obsessing over One Direction. Unconsciously, you begin to believe that because you belong to their group (or want to), you must mimic their actions. People swept up by the boy band effect want to fit in, and one way of achieving that is to throw the “role model” mantle on a popular celebrity.
Others want to escape what they consider a boring life by diving into the life of a celebrity. Just look at the masses who constantly keep up with the Kardashians or the hordes following the Will and Kate baby craze(s). Role models made this way hold little positive value.
There’s a difference between idolization and looking up to someone. When we idolize a celebrity, we aren’t bettering ourselves; we’re just worshiping someone for superficial reasons. Looking up to a celebrity means we can acknowledge their faults and their strengths, and choose to follow the good examples they set.
You don’t have to look far for stars who give back to charities, support their communities or stand up for social causes. Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie are a humanitarian power couple, Alicia Keys just started the thought-provoking #WeAreHere campaign in social media, and of course Oprah may be the most well known celebrity who gives back. Striving to be more like these people may help fans better their own lives rather than try to escape them.
Don’t let fandom get the better of you. Reroute your adoration. Turn it into a challenge to better yourself, and maybe one day you can be like the person you look up to.
Jordan is a senior studying psychology.