Saturday, June 20, 2009

The Celebrity Soapbox

For the past few years, celebrities seem to have become more vocal in their activism. They preach, protest, and tell the rest of us how we should behave. Leo wants us to stop global warming, Bono wants us to give more money to people in Africa, Sarah McLachlan wants us to stop beating animals and Angelina Jolie wants to kidnap a kid from every continent. Sure, there has always been activism in Hollywood, but in years past, celebrities seemed to have been more focused on solely being entertainers.

So, what has caused this dramatic change? Why do superficial, generally uneducated (at least formally) people think they can enlighten the rest of us on injustices and how to correct them. I'm not knocking Bono, Leo, Angelina, or any of the other Hollywood do-gooders. However, I wonder what they feel entitles them to be our teachers. It seems that for every cause, there is a celebrity spokesman. Michael J. Fox teaches us about Parkinson's, Jennie McCarthy teaches us about autism (and has spread harmful myths), George Clooney teaches us about genocide in Darfur, and the Jonas Brothers teach us how to stay in the closet by wearing purity rings. Why do we turn to Michael J. Fox for information about Parkinson's instead of a doctor? Well, the answer is sadly obvious. The general public would rather listen to Michael J. Fox than any doctor. I know I would. Marty McFly is the shit.

Celebrities have so much power because we give it to them. We view them as super-humans who are closer to gods than they are to mere mortals. In reality, celebrities are just people who have capitalized on their connections, looks, good fortune, and talent (in some cases). But, in the era of E!, Us Weekly, TMZ, and Perez Hilton, the lives of celebrities have become more important than our own. People devote countless hours to watching "stars" dance. Young girls aspire to be the next Paris Hilton or Kim Kardashian. Young boys aspire to be the next Reggie Bush so they can bang the next Kim Kardashian. Many people spend more time talking about who Lindsay Lohan is dating, how much weight Kirstie Alley has gained, and what they would do to Miley Cyrus if she were 18 than they do cultivating personal relationships.

When Britney Spears had her first baby, the birth of Sean Preston Federline was the lead story on virtually every news program and major news website. In a time when the United States was fighting two wars, no single story in the world was deemed more important/interesting than a baby head popping out of Britney's hoo-ha. You can't blame Britney if she thinks her shit don't stink when so many people would pay money to smell her shit.

The people I do find most puzzling are those who form their beliefs based on celebrity opinions. It's hard to understand the guy who voted for McCain because Chuck Norris thought that was the right thing to do. If you voted for Obama because Ben Affleck and P.Diddy told you to, then you should be put to sleep because you're already brain-dead. However, I have to admit that when I heard Aubry from Danity Kane strongly urging people to vote for Obama, I had a strong desire to vote for a different candidate.

I don't think we can expect celebrities to stop their preaching, activism, and holier-than-thou routines any time soon. Believe it or not, many celebrities are self-absorbed and long to be in the spotlight (insert sarcasm). The only way we can stop this madness
is by not caring so much about what celebrities think or do. In the near future, that seems impossible. Thankfully, we have people like Trey Parker and Matt Stone to make fun of these sanctimonious, self-righteous celebrities. In the words of Justin Berkman, "if you can't beat 'em, talk lots of shit."