The Weekly Ringer

The University of Mary Washington Student Newspaper

Society’s unwarranted obsession with celebrity life

3 min read
In today’s society, it is absolutely impossible to walk into a grocery store or a gas station without meeting the gaze of a celebrity, accompanied with promising details of their personal life.


In today’s society, it is absolutely impossible to walk into a grocery store or a gas station without meeting the gaze of a celebrity, accompanied with promising details of their personal life. A large portion of our economy and culture is driven by celebrities-from the movies they star in or music they produce, to the awards they win and the scandals of their relationships. For a group that appreciates and desires privacy, we sure don’t grant that luxury to the people we’ve placed on the highest of pedestals.

According to a 2012 PCWorld article, most of the top trending searches on Google last year were related to celebrities or their work, such as Whitney Houston, “The Hunger Games”, Jeremy Lin, “Gangnam Style” and Michael Clark Duncan.

Folio magazine’s report on data collected by Mediamark Research Incorporated in 2009 discovered People magazine to be the magazine title with the largest audience-a whopping 43.6 million adult readers.

The Association of Magazine Media’s Magazine Titles data for January to June 2012 showed that People magazine, while experiencing a loss of profit between 2012 and 2011, maintained the highest income of any of the listed publications. People had a revenue of $483 million from January to June 2012, compared to Better Homes & Gardens’ $351 million.

Aside from magazine publications driven by the lives of celebrities, there is also the actual work that these celebrities produce to consider. The top grossing movie in 2012 was “Marvel’s The Avengers” which made $623 million. The total profit from the 658 movies that Box Office Mojo lists as 2012 releases is $10 billion.

In the music industry, Adele’s album “21” managed to be the top seller in both 2011 and 2012. In 2011, Adele sold 5.8 million copies, and in 2012, she sold 4.4 million copies. The second top selling album of 2012 was Taylor Swift’s “Red,” which made 3.1 million in sales.

This is a clear example of how the amount of money put into simply staying informed on celebrities’ lives and keeping up with their newest releases is almost sickening. My question is this: why exactly are celebrities treated as superiors? Is it their talent or their world renown? If it is merely their talent that drives our obsession with the personal details of their lives, then why aren’t the talented astrophysicists or biologists more closely followed?

Celebrities often have bouts with paparazzi, which sometimes result in the celebrities acting violently. However, the public’s reactions to these incidents carry a common theme-that the celebrities chose that lifestyle, that the fact that they star in movies or produce music is reason for every aspect of their lives to be closely scrutinized.

Sure, it may be true that some actors and musicians wish to be famous for the sole purpose of having that global recognition, rather than wanting to share an idea and vision with as many people as possible. However, the issue is not only the lack of respect for these people’s privacy, but also the gross obsession with the details of the lives of people that we don’t even know personally.

Maybe there’s some part of human nature that pushes us toward people or things that are popular and well-known, and also creates a desire within us to become one of those well-known people. It makes sense, wanting to be largely recognized for your talents, but is doing what you love worth losing your social freedom?

I definitely think that acknowledgement of a skill is an important thing, but I also think that, in that sense, appreciation should be evenly distributed to all people with talent in any field and should not manifest in an invasive manner.