Cult of celebrity spins out of controlBy Nestor U. Torre
Philippine Daily Inquirer
Show biz stars have always been a breed apart, rara aves more beautiful, popular, prosperous and privileged than the rest of us mere mortals.
Admired by millions of ga-ga minions, they have been adulated, placed on a lofty pedestal, and adored as idols and icons for generations. This has engendered a cult of celebrity less official than organized religions, but sometimes even more avid and perfervid in the undue importance it gives to practically anything a star or starlet says and does!
To get into the papers, we ordinary mortals have to rob a bank, kidnap a taipan or become a serial killer. For a show biz celebrity to have the same effect, all he or she has to do is get a toothache—and moan loudly and publicly about how painful it is: —Breaking News!
Of course, we’re exaggerating. But, what is no exaggeration is the fact that, of late, the cult of celebrity has become so prominent and prevalent that it’s crept into the very fiber of life in this adulation-addled land.
A recent survey caused a stir when it revealed that, instead of wanting to become a doctor, teacher or lawyer, as their parents did only a generation ago, an inordinate number of Filipino youths aspire to short-cut their route to success by becoming popular and exceedingly well-paid entertainers!
Adding to the fervor and furor is the corroborating fact that thousands upon thousands of young hopefuls line up for hours to audition for talent searches, even if they don’t possess the amazing face and body required to make it in the biz.
Similarly worrisome is the inordinate clout and influence that celebrities wield these days. Remember the elections when a star helped make a dim-watted political entity a senator? Her endorsement was so influential that some political pundits said she deserved to have a (smaller) seat of her own in the Senate!
Talk about celebrity endorsements, they’ve become so pervasive that some stars are paid gazillions to swear that they patronize a product—even if they don’t. So, why does the viewing and reading public believe the patent fib? Because it’s a celebrity who “irrefutably” says so.
Most recently of all, celebrities have even taken to endorsing each other’s new starrers! Televiewers are only too familiar with the “news” story about a new movie’s premiere, where the stars’ celebrity friends gush over and rave about the “amazing” movie they’ve just seen.
These friendly celebrities’ own starrers show that they wouldn’t know a good performance even if it hit them on the head—but, all of a sudden, they’ve become astute and “objective” film critics whose endorsements should be taken as gospel truth? —Give us a break.
No, really, it’s time for us, the allegedly impressionable and gullible members of the audience, to take a step back and cynically reconsider what the local cult of celebrity has become, and the exaggerated power and influence it wields on our estimation of and appreciation for how things really are.
The first key shift should be our realization that stars aren’t necessarily wiser or more credible than the rest of us—they’re just paid a lot to pretend that they are.
So, don’t let them lead us by the nose and tell us what to buy and watch, and whom to vote for. Stripped of the elaborate fiction surrounding him, that glorious celebrity idol may have—feet of common clay.
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