Staff Editorial: Consuming celebrity culture costs us
While the days of sensationalized celebrity gossip coming from tabloid magazines circa 2006 are pretty much gone, a sleeker, faster information machine has taken its place.
But the accessibility and speed of the internet are not upgrades in this case — they are unethical and dangerous and promote a toxic culture of idolizing celebrities, wanting to know every detail of their personal lives, and then learning more than we should when the internet was just giving us what we thought we wanted.
In the 2000s anyone interested in Lindsay Lohan’s latest activities would have to wait days or even a week to pick up a new US Weekly magazine. Now, with the rise of social media becoming an increasingly popular news source, sites like Twitter have assumed the role of the tabloid, acting as a news source with trending pages and frequent updates. In reality, this is a flimsy disguise so that they can really function as tell-alls for the most popular figures and garner clicks the same way magazine racks 10 years ago hoped would get attention from shoppers.
But what’s different is just how fast the word spreads. For instance, when Kobe Bryant, his daughter, and seven others tragically died in the helicopter crash, TMZ was the first to the scene and immediately posted the news. They were so fast, in fact, that they reported about the event even before the families were personally told that their loved ones had passed. And just recently, John Mulaney’s personal struggle with addiction was revealed the very night he went into rehab.
What is occurring is a vicious cycle of the public’s obsession with those in the spotlight and pseudo-media companies and corporations rushing to meet demand. This vortex not only hurts the celebrities whose personal lives and scandalous secrets are caught in the crossfire but also for those that choose to engage with this content. Involving yourself with stranger’s lives seems like a very strange activity and yet its acceptable behavior that we keep tabs with the latest relationships of A-list stars. This sort of behavior disconnects us from our own realities — as if we are living vicariously through the triumphs and downfalls of others through the internet. And the speed of it all keeps us incredibly, excessively, and scarily engaged — we could live our entire lives scrolling through other lives and not notice how much time has passed all the while.
Then, when our increasing need to know more and more details urges the media to give us what we want — either by legitimate or illegal means — we find ourselves looking at deeply private information that may not always paint a glorious picture. Either this makes the public more disenchanted with the celebrity in question or it fuels an onslaught of critique and jokes at the celebrity’s expense; either way, the gossip only stokes the flames.
Essentially, the obsession we have with these figures is instantly gratifying. We can gossip about their shortcomings and critique their behavior from afar without any of the consequences landing on us. Cancel culture has come as a direct result of this need to exploit sensationalism and the power of the public figure, not as a result from actually wanting to hold public figures accountable.
If we want to stop this cycle then we need to stop feeding into the culture that does more harm than good invading people’s private lives and exploiting their fallibility.
Frankly, caring less, minding our business, and tending to our own problems will go a long way to fixing the issue we’ve collectively created. The only reason the market for this sort of news is so saturated is because it a business at heart and really just needs the views and the money.
Disinterest and indifference will let celebrities go on about their own lives. And in turn, it will let us finally go about our own.