Is Celebrity Culture Killing us?

By Deborah Hodge

As a previous television addict I can map out the time of year according to big shows that mainstream media feeds us.

Britain’s Got Talent begins the year nicely and the X Factor winner is announced just before Christmas. Yes, we really do have our lives mapped out by television.

It used to “feel like Christmas” on the cold evenings. That elusive feeling we crave from our childhoods. A sense of routine and safety: I remember it well.

Although now less of a shock programme, in amongst it all is Big Brother airing over the summer and the winner was announced just last night.

Now, with Celebrity Big Brother starting on Thursday, the line up has been “leaked”.

Like most of you reading this, I recognised only a few of the faces and forced myself to find out more about them to write this.

Sam Fox may be watchable; she was a massive 80’s icon for sure and Helen Lederer is quite a favourite of mine. Christopher Biggins, yes you were brought in for the ratings but my oh my, Katie Waissel?

I’m sure she is a lovely person but the last time I saw her was the last series of X factor I actually watched right through and she sat down looking defeated whilst she was singing. It felt: embarrassing.

Rarely watching any television now I can’t say whether she has been on the television much since then, but I did see she had told NOW magazine all about her new wedding and the mailonline just happened to be there at Christmas when she returned home from LA with her new husband.

I can’t help but see how manufactured everything is and makes me worry about the impact celebrity culture has had on society.

Being someone who is swimming in that tide but with a different agenda I find the whole system terrifying.

I was at the Britain’s Got Talent auditions for my stand up comedy in January where I was shocked to see how many people had turned up.

It was horrifying.

The demographic was mainly working class and there was a feeling of desperation in the air.

The promise of riches and fame after getting on a show like this brings out hundreds of thousands of people to spend over 12 hours queuing and waiting to be seen in only a few seconds audition.

Since then I have seen on casting sites that people are actually scouted beforehand and Simon Cowell has people he puts forward.

It doesn’t seem a problem to me as it’s a multi million pound business, but do the four year old’s being pushed by their parents to spend so long auditioning know this?

But what IS a celebrity these days? Like Katie Waissel who was in X factor in 2010, she is still heralded as having this status. Will she roll out this claim to fame forever?

Is it because we know her name? We remember who she is?

Then we have the TOWIE fame. The staged reality television stars who are only known to those who watch this show.

It does feel, that you can make a living from being married to someone famous once, or perhaps were in a band people knew, then skip from reality show to reality show for the rest of your life.

But what do these people DO?

I have to come clean here. I find the whole Kanye West and Kim Kardashian culture sickening.

Disgusting in fact.

Being so into politics, a lot of hate is directed to the powers that control us and the government but Kim is part of this mass control but probably without even realising it.

Should we not judge the rich and successful for what they do for the planet and the world not what brand they are endorsing that week?

Don’t get me wrong though, 100 per cent fair play to those going into the celebrity big brother house. I don’t blame them.

The financial rewards are big and the notoriety can be a worthy step for them, plus the inevitable meltdowns can be very entertaining (Rula Lenska).

Some contestants will have inevitably been honing physiques for some time and maybe had some “work done” to go in; it’s all part of playing the game. But are they being played too?

I’m just scared where all this is going.

Thinking about the power of the universe so endorsed by Jim Carrey and the book “The Secret”, Is there not a huge self fulfilling prophecy happening?

Remember all those disaster movies in the 70’s and 80’s?

Now taken to whole new levels of awful in films like 2012. Nothing less than mass global destruction seems to capture our imagination.

Are we simply manifesting energy into realities such as hunger games, The running Man and Terminator?

Our new obsession with social media predicts that live streaming and videos, indeed Zuckerberg predicts Facebook will be mostly videos in five years.

How soon will we have cameras in our retinas? Go pro has already revolutionised streaming.

With this, Celebrity culture is set to become even more prevalent. A huge proportion of You Tube celebrities are growing daily and their lives are perpetuated on a global scale.

It has become inherently tied to consumer interests where celebrities transform their fame to become product brands.

My worry with this is “fame” comes the other side of the coin that humans have become increasingly expendable.

Since when did a child of a different colour or background or religion become more important than another? That is a rhetorical question of course: Hitler et al.

Is mass genocide more prevalent or are we more aware of it through social media?

The whole manufactured arms race, using people as pawns in their quest to create chaos that manifests itself in swelling guns, weapons and war machinery sales shows how little human life is considered.

Celebrity status separates further those who have and those who have not. I could not help but feel a likening to the slumdog millionaire culture in India when I was amongst all those bodies at the Britain’s got talent audition.

I even found online a link between the growing trend of mass shootings in America being linked to the quest for “fame”.

Barack Obama also hit in 2014 out at society’s infatuation with celebrity culture and suggested it might be killing the American dream.

“we weren’t exposed to the things we didn’t have in the same way that kids these days are. There was not that window into the lifestyles of the rich and famous. Kids weren’t monitoring every day what Kim Kardashian was wearing, or where Kanye West was going on vacation, and thinking that somehow that was the mark of success.”

Fame itself is not a bad thing. Without famous actors we would miss out on great art.

Famous people from all walks of life can use their celebrity to draw attention to charitable causes that need our help.

It just doesn’t feel like there are enough Mark Gruffalo’s for every vacuous fake chested wannabe. Even Bob Geldof does not have the same fight any more and did the BREXIT campaign more harm than good when he was shouting at Nigel Farage on the Thames. He just looked: rich.

As a society it feels like we have decided over the past 20 years or so that being famous is the most important thing in the world.

This is why it’s becoming such a problem.

51 percent of 18- to 25-year-old’s think they will be famous one day.

It starts even younger than that. My middle daughter at six told me she wanted to be “famous”. I didn’t question her why or how but hopefully if this does happen to any of my children then they will use their fame for good not just vacuous reasons.

Where is the glamour in being a cleaner, a nurse, an office worker or a teacher?

Social media though allows us a way of feeling our own small piece of fame.

Retweets, Likes, selfies: that endless carousel of social media.

Millions of people worried daily if their posts do not get enough likes and may even take a post down if it doesn’t do well.

The more followers and connections you are, the better you are right?

As well as those people who strive for fame and notoriety constantly, a lot of people have discovered they are famous for the wrong one.

Remember Justine Sacco? She was the most famous person online for a few days back in 2013. You probably posted something about how horrible she was.

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The dentist too who shot Cecil the lion. He had the correct permit to go big-game hunting, just like dozens of other people every year.

Because he shot the wrong one, he became an internet celebrity and received hundreds of death threats and had to close his dental practice for weeks.

What celebrity status does is turn the individual into a commodity and from there, they are owned. Indeed me commenting on the latest reality television show, only continues the cycle.

For me, having appeared in reality television shows due to be aired and with more filming imminent, it is a scary glass eyed world. I meet lots of aspiring fame junkies like myself but I wonder at their end game?

Mine feels very different though. I have a plan borne out of necessity. But does everyone in this game? Have I been sucked so far into the rabbit hole I have been brainwashed?

The deafening tumbleweed when I first published my novel through Amazon made me quickly realise I needed to up my game in terms of “presence”.

Now, a year on I can no longer read comments about myself after I was trolled badly in my local newspaper online last week after posting a petition about my cat who was run over.

Social media allows the average troll to be very open with damning comments. My cat had died, my children were heartbroken and yes, we used the media to promote more speed bumps outside our house.

For me, a 43 year old single mum with four mouths to feed and a forever home we are desperate to buy, I have to revisit daily why I am putting myself through this insane effort.

But I keep replaying the mantra: if I can do it, anyone can. Watch me fly if we actually get this house.

My core beliefs are easily seen and I refuse to have lip fillers, a tit job or even botox.

Yes, I make sure I stand out from the crowd as it feels like a fast track way to be seen against the young Barbie dolls. My end game is politics and be a mouthy, gobby individual who will challenge the status quo.

But for now it’s all part of the game. Yes, in a huge paradox I will be attempting to get tickets for celebrity big brothers CBBBOTS so you can see me in the audience.

That quest to be “seen” which could turn into revenue….maybe, possibly…

It isn’t glamorous bribing my 19 year old son until he hates me to look after his unruly three year old sister and come back to a scene from apocalypse now. He doesn’t understand why, after successfully throwing in the towel being a teacher I am now doing things like appearing in the audience of “The Wright Show” and attending any casting opportunity I can.

For me, fame is something I absolutely do not aspire to however.

I find the recognition of being the “woman who was in the evening standard because of a gimp masked man” tiresome.

Worse still, my neighbours all knowing me as the bat shit crazy woman who tied hundreds of dolls to her railings.

A teachers profession used to be something to aspire to but not only did I never see my own children, the salary is just not enough to buy a house in South London.

Is that just not mad?

2016 has been a year of me repeatedly wanting to throw in the towel, take the blue pill and return to my consumerist bubble. Or, move my children kit and caboodle to Norway. We just keep getting hit by more and more tragedy.

But instead I have to cling onto hope. This is not the end of days, more a time when the masses see clearly the mechanisms behind the media control.

Fake breasts and even more fake personalities become pointless once the veil has been lifted.

My gut feeling is we need a revolution, but I am trying to manifest in my mind what it would look like. The failed coup in Turkey resulted in rape, horror and bloodshed.

What do we do?

Noam Chomsky 2

On Sunday I connected with Noam Chomsky on Linkedin.

It felt so big that I lay awake for the entire night thinking about it.

Despite having less than 500 connections he accepted my invitation: I still can’t believe it.

Yes, I understand how TRUMP has got this far in his campaign, YES, I can see how BREXIT was a result of the very people who are being shafted and made poorer by the government but what now?

In my effort not to look like a stalker I have only messaged him twice, but the power of osmosis is strong in me and I have literally laid my hands on my laptop and willed him to answer me.

I’ve asked for a ten question interview. Ten seems reasonable. If he responds then I will be opening up to see if any London Economic readers have a question for Noam. That’s got to be in a bucket list right?

Yes, you can dumb me down to be a fame seeker. I would never do Big Brother, but then again, what if they offered a Christopher Biggins amount of money? (150K to appear on the show)

But, my view is, what if fame could then be harnessed into power? Power for good? Power into activism like my idol Vivienne Westwood? Power for change?

What would the World be like if Rupert Murdoch suddenly decided all his power was going to be used to help the planet?

But as I strive for notoriety I keep myself grounded with words. Words that can be used back at me if I suddenly morph into someone without a conscience.

Right now, I’m not interested in how we got here to this terrible state of Worldly affairs.

My concern is where we go from here and how, as an educated collective. Could we use social media against itself and lift the veil to change things.

Equality for all.

No human being going hungry and our planet being put first in a new social economy.

Hell, we could be so sneaky about it that whilst mainstream television churns out its celebrity programmes, the masses haven’t even realised a quiet revolution has been going on.

The really frightening thing is that most people are unaware of the level of control external forces have.

Over to you Noam: what exactly do we do next?

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3 Responses

  1. Steve

    Great natural flow of thought. I enjoyed your article. Good luck with Noam Chomsky. He is a true hero of our times. If you like Noam also take a look at Chris Hedges.

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