“I’m nobody! Who are you?
Are you nobody, too?”
Our country has developed and perhaps perfected the cult of celebrity. The rich and the famous have a powerful influence on almost every aspect of our culture, whether or not they have insight, knowledge, or even care.
Does the bestowal of celebrity say more about the bestowers than about the receivers? Yes, I think it says much about “us,” not as much about “them.”
Projection is the psychological term. Vicarious living, wishful thinking, fantasy, and pipe dreams are other terms. In some way, we think they are worth attention and perhaps want to be like them, so we celebrate them.
Somehow we don’t seem to consider that the very celebrity we bestow also robs freedom and normalcy from celebs’ lives. One only has to think of Princess Diana. They live in a hothouse environment of unreality and thus commonly become quite odd and, so it certainly seems from what we read, not happy.
And truth be told, some celebrities rise to the occasion and become genuinely integrated people of remarkable character.
For my money, Emily Dickinson (quoted above) had it right. She became a celebrity long after she was gone. Her life was quiet and peaceful, just the way she wanted it. Simple, quiet brilliance. No paparazzi in Amherst, Massachusetts.
But making celebrities is not bad certainly; and, after all, it is a most human trait. A suggestion: make your own list of celebrities. Who do you want to celebrate? And just how will you do that? Start a list right now: a few people you appreciate and want to celebrate—living, dead, famous, infamous, personally known or never met, local or foreign. Then celebrate them in some way.
For encouragement, look up the whole of Dickinson’s poem. She captured the idea, with joy, in eight lines.
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