Monday, March 25, 2013

Hopeless Belief in Celebrities…

“The smart way to keep people passive and obedient is to strictly limit the spectrum of acceptable opinion, but allow very lively debate within that spectrum....”
― Noam Chomsky

Celebrities…Why do we profess our love so gratuitously to them, while we fight tooth-and-nail to give it to our everyday counterparts? Why do we believe them blindly as if we’ve known them forever, while doubting and challenging the ones we rub shoulders with on a daily basis? What is it about these complete strangers, who when we adore, we REALLY adore, that makes us care so much? I’m not quite sure what it is but maybe we need to change our perception….

There was a French actress that said something very remarkable once (she is very well known but for the life of me, I can't remember her name). She had been invited to a talk show which I saw back home (in Belgium), and the audience began to ask her the questions we often think our celebrities should have answers to: "What are your thoughts on war? How can we solve the problem of world hunger? What about Aids?" They continued to ask these and other random (but very astute) questions and she replied, "You know, before I became famous, I was just the average girl next door, with an average life and average intelligence. Now that I'm famous, I have not magically become smarter - so I don't see why there would be a point in asking me about these matters."

Ummmm…. Let me think… Yes, She is the only celebrity I ever heard respond in such a mature, candid way… Her answer didn't read "I have no clue or opinion in those matters" to me it read "Is it because I am a celebrity that now my opinion matters?"

I - like many other people - am very fond of some celebrities. Some, because of their artistry abilities (I will automatically go see their movies, buy their albums or read their books, regardless of the negative or positive reviews), some because of their insightful opinions on everyday matters or global subjects, and then there are some that although I cannot totally relate to them, I admire their journey and accomplishments. However, I find it amazing when I notice and see us, common people, hang on every word they speak and take advice from those who don’t know us. I mean, it’s certainly possible that they could have gone through the same/similar experiences then us at some point, but so haven’t the people we encounter on the train ride in to work. Do we want to know what they think we should do concerning our love lives? How about taking parenting advice from the hard working woman/man sitting across from you at the office café…. yeah, not so much. Something about a person being in front of a national television camera makes us think they are the authority on whatever it is they’re speaking about.

The main problem is we look up to these people far too much, instead of the people who are so much closer to us! I think that maybe we should rely on the advice of teachers, family members, and church/community leaders. These are the people who can have a direct impact and provide sound examples in our lives. These are the ones, who when they make a mistake, we should be able to forgive them easily, but sadly we don’t. We’d rather cheer on and forgive Kobe Bryant, even after he was accused of raping (but inevitably admitted to having sex with) a girl in a Colorado hotel. We’d much rather repost pictures of Kim Kardashian on our Instagram accounts, even though we’d probably never become friends with someone from work who published a sex-tape, had a televised, sham wedding, and had zero personality. Funny business, but absolutely true. We have a much shorter tolerance for regular humans, and expect them to be super-human, while expecting celebrities to fall constantly, like average Joes. Maybe it’s time to elevate our tolerance/respect across the board….

 I am a “follower” of Jada Pickett-Smith’s Facebook page. She is definitely one of those actresses I find very beautiful and at times very interesting. So, the other day, I was on her page and she asked this question, Will there ever be a day in which women will be able to see each other beyond race, class, and culture?” She then went into some specifics. She wondered if we’d ever allow our Caucasian sisters to grace the covers of our predominantly black magazines (Essence, Vibe, Ebony, etc.) as we’re requesting for us to cover theirs… As in any discussion worth discussing, you get a plethora of opinions and this particular subject did just that. So… nothing wrong with that. Where I had an issue is where people started to answer, “Amen Jada”, “My God Jada, you are always so right”, “Jada, can you please get your own talk show”, “I Love you so much, God Bless you”… and on and on… What happened to having an opinion? What ever happened to thinking for yourself? What happened to (even if you agree) being able to state in a complete sentence, the reasons why?
I shake my head. Our society seems to have a habit of placing athletes and actors on such a high pedestal, that when they make the slightest remarks, we want to find a connection even when there is none. Again, why do we do this to ourselves?

I have come to believe that many of the celebrities I personally admire, like Oprah, Jada, Beyoncé - to name a few- become very self-centered. And while this might be a normal reaction to almost idol worship by their loyal fans (which pushes them to feel larger than life), we have to remember that they are not God! They are only human, with a larger platform than we have and with circumstances that we might wish we had. They cannot heal cancer, or turn water into wine. They cannot catch bullets with their teeth or leap tall building in a single bound. Well, Beyoncé might, but that’s it! Their opinion and advice is no better (or worse) than ours, the teachers, or everyday parents… the everyday people we are in constant contact with.

While I believe that their journeys are amazing, that their opinions do have definite substance to them, and their caring behaviors are genuine, we have to remember that being desperate and needing to find role models and people to aspire to be like should not make us disregard what we are. I believe they are opening our eyes to opportunities, to possibilities that may not be obvious to us. They have the platform which, the wise ones, set up and land to us so we can build, voice, share intelligently our own opinion and NOT follow blindly because we assume they know better. I say, seat at the table…don't place so much faith in all of them, because just as much they can and will motivate us, at some point they are sure to disappoint. Remember we ALL make mistakes. Believing they are better and know better is a cop-out. So stand tall by your aptitude and be accountable for your opinions…


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