According to one of the most trusted sources of understanding; the Oxford dictionary, culture can be defined as “the attitudes and behaviour characteristic of a particular social group.” Celebrity, a much newer term than the 16th century origins of culture is defined as; “A famous person, especially in entertainment or sport:” When combined both words constitute a phenomenon that has gained enormous momentum in the 21st century. Celebrity culture is evident in everyday life, from the pictures of famous TV and sporting personalities splashed all over the front page of magazines, to the endless reality television shows and their ever tedious spin offs.
Like it or not, the fact is that young people go crazy over celebrities. This has been proven since the time of Elvis Presley and The Beatles. Today, the reality is that anything remotely ‘interesting’ about even low profile celebrities gets social media platforms such as Twitter, Facebook and Instagram buzzing. For example, One Direction, a band who I am reliably informed have just split up (not that I remotely care, neither will I pretend to care) were trending on Twitter for two whole days after their dissolution. A quick scroll amongst the numerous tweets from mourners of the now defunct band provided me with much comedic relief at the utter ridiculous outpouring of grief by their fans.
Jokes aside, the celebrity culture wave that is sweeping around the world given greater potency today by social media, has begun a worrying trend. One of the strongest beliefs I hold in academic pursuits and in any other facet of life for that matter, is that you must be committed to hardwork and diligence after which success will follow. However, the celebrity culture today teaches young people and even those who are no longer in their twenties that success is instantaneous and that little graft is needed. Reality shows such as ‘Keeping up with the Kardashians’ follow the lives of a family who simply do nothing other than live their daily lives and to their credit get paid millions of dollars to do so. The celebrity culture has created a generation of instant gratification and fame hungry seekers. Simply put, celebrity culture has fostered an attitude of ‘I want it and I want it now.’
It is essential to provide balance to the debate about whether or not celebrities should be so adored and whether young people today should be so infatuated with them. In my humble opinion the importance of a role model whom a young person can look up to is crucial. It therefore follows that young people should seek to emulate those that are likely to have a positive influence on their lives. There is certainly a need for positive role models who inspire and provide an example of what it means to succeed through hardwork.
It is however important to note that not everyone will have role models or people that they look up to in conventional disciplines such as business, law or engineering. We are all different and we therefore have a variety of passions and interests in life. Those who are athletically gifted and seeking a professional sporting career might seek to emulate eminent hardworking sport stars such as LeBron James or Cristiano Ronaldo. Similarly, those talented in film/television production and scriptwriting might choose to look up to the brilliant Shonda Rhimes for inspiration.
The celebrity culture is here to stay, the question is; are you going to be swept up in short term gratification or are you going to emulate positive role models and build your own legacy?
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