Friday, 14 August 2009

Stars in Our Eyes

Celebrities, we follow them around like love-sick puppies; emulating their fashion, hair and mannerisms. We thrive off their frivolity; as we flip through the pages of our tabloid magazines we’re faced with photos of the rich and their famous friends, at their fancy parties, on their shiny yachts and in their many conspicuous mansions. Their lives allow us to escape our own 9-5 route for something a little more scenic. We escape reality by jumping ship, to join P. Diddy and co. as they eat their caviar and sip back flutes of Cristal champagne. Their ridiculous wealth makes their on-screen fictitious stories seem as banal as our own lives.

We love to hate them, yet celebrities can be very persuasive. As we speak the ubiquitous Paris Hilton is the face of more than 20 international products; her tick of approval means an automatic increase in public awareness and therefore sales. But, when they’re not trying to make a quick buck, we can turn to our ever-reliable trashy magazine for a quick update on Posh’s wardrobe or Jude Law’s sexual escapades.

American gossip-blogger turned pseudo-celebrity blogger, Perez Hilton, is one individual who is not ashamed to admit his fascination with the malnourished pop-tarts, whose arms are adorned with expensive ‘it’ bags and miniature dogs. His acerbic tongue cuts like a sharp knife, and lucky for him and unluckily for celebs, we’re lapping it up. His name is of course a tribute to a one miss Paris Hilton, a young lady who has had more than her fair share of mishaps, in the form of a well-known home-made movie, and misdemeanors; driving while under the influence which of course led to the well-publicised misadventure, namely a trip to the big house. Lindsay Lohan seems to be headed down a very similar path. It’s as if the ‘it’ girl downward spiral routine is an induction into the hedonistic drug-fueled life these ‘role-models’ choose to lead. Are these the antics of young women, who were given too much too fast, who should be pitied rather than idolized or resented? Our fascination with these self-destructive women is nothing less than perplexing.

In early 2007, Britney Spears raised concerns for her well-being when it emerged that she had shaved her own head. After enduring a rather messy split with her husband Kevin Federline, the songstress soon suffered a very public breakdown. She attacked paparazzi, took her youngest child for a front seat joy-ride, and in 0ctober 2007 she lost custody of her two sons. The paparazzi anticipated the worst and were highly rewarded with public tantrums and tears of defeat. The rest of us looked on in horror; learning from her mistakes and taking pleasure in her personal tragedy. As malicious as it may seem human instinct and ‘schadenfreude’ draws us to these broken stars. We shamefully enjoyed hearing about her troubled marriage, weight gain and ever-increasing follies because it made our lives, seem almost perfect in comparison. Let’s face it, a photo of a trim and taut Britney Spears doesn’t do much for the self-esteem, but an overweight version reminds us that these ‘idols’ are just as prone to cellulite as the rest of us.

Fast-forward to 2008, after a rather disappointing MTV performance, Miss Spears managed to pick up all the broken pieces and slowly piece them back together. Not only did she get her life back on track but she managed to win back the media; those that heard dollar signs when she fell, applauded her career revival in the form of positive write-ups. Her misfortunes enabled us to finally identify with the once unblemished starlet, who never really seemed real, not until we could empathise.

The glamorous world of today’s celebrity is a concept unbeknown to the best of us. In their world there are: no lines, an endless supply of gratuitous services and for those ‘talented’ few, there are the millions of adoring fans. As ‘fans’ we watch their movies, buy their merchandise and thanks to the tabloids, we’re able to follow their every step.

Their lavish lives fascinate us, repulse us and make our lives seem idle in comparison. Yet a celebrity status also means constant scrutiny; hurtful gossip and unflattering photos, and sometimes it’s enough to convince us that normalcy is a desirable trait. In this ‘privileged’ world, everyone knows your name, your weight, your number of sexual partners and your drug of choice - privacy is for the weak. Unlike the movies, this is someone’s reality; it’s completely unscripted, unpredictable and it involves way too much money. But in the end, a celebrity is only as big as the wad of cash in his or her wallet, and it is how it’s spent that creates the juiciest of stories.

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I am more than prone to monologues; however, this is solely due to the manner in which they compliment a witty anecdote and their ability to resemble concrete evidence when it is so obviously lacking. I often wish I could emulate that aloof character who coolly stands in the corner smiling mysteriously as if she has a secret. However, I fear resisting the temptation to involve myself in other people’s conflicts and responding through body language rather than verbose banter may come across as contrived and arrogant. And, I am not willing to take that chance.

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