Celebrity Worship Syndrome

The worshiping of celebrities has become more and more popular in this day and age. It seems like every new pop star is a commodity not a talent and looks and the ability to sell their image is way more important than whether they can sing. They target mainly tweens/teens who create this obsession, but the obsession is stronger than a teenage crush on the popular boy, these obsessions turn in to hysterical youth screaming and crying at a mere glimpse of the star.

Celebrities personify lifestyles of wealth, glamorous travel and beautified health-consciousness and the fans of these celebrities believe that if they can have the things that their idol does than they will be one step closer to being like them. Marketers have caught on to this and are now selling anything and everything with that stars name on it. For example, Justin Bieber has his name on everything from shoes to nail polish to trading cards to headphones and more. There are even websites which provide information about what a certain star was wearing or using and where to purchase it (coolspotters.com). And people will buy these products to make their children happy, but why? Artists like Adele and John Mayer don’t have to hide behind promotions and products to become famous their talent is their selling point, but stars like The Jonas Brothers need something besides pure talent to make their image.

The sad thing is, is that people who have actual talent may try their whole life and not become famous but those that were lucky at the right time may blow up into a superstar. Another example is Rebecca Black and her viral video “Friday”. With one listen of the song you can tell they there is not much talent there, she can sing but its no more than average, but she has gained huge publicity and has over 74,000,000 views on youtube. But then you look at someone like Heather Russell, a ten year old from Toronto with amazing talent and she has a little more than 1,000,000 views when she should be the one shining. (link to her singing)            

It’s a shame that this has happened and although it is easier to fake talent by lipsyncing and autotune its seems like there is a underground movement of real music that still exisits but it is all about timing and luck. Today, many people believe that the virtual reality they see on screen is the norm. They read and see so much about celebrities, they feel these people are their friends, their lovers and are in fact reality and worth sharing and imitating. But that thought only fuels the corporations. Although Justin Bieber has been made into a brand I still remember seeing his videos for the first time and hearing him play on the streets of Stratford and thinking he had talent and there is no denying that he doesn’t, they have just let his talent fall by the wayside which is what is happening to many other real talents out there.

Pop Culture & Religion

I come from a non-religious family, we celebrate Christmas and other holidays but I have never attended church with my family. It could be just me coming from a non-religious family, but it seems that now in pop culture certain types of religions are becoming a trend.            

 Celebrities are infamous for gravitating towards some of the more “different” religious paths, yet many have also chosen various traditional organized religions and others have developed a set of beliefs that transcend any one religion. Take for example Madonna and Kabbalah, a 4,000 year old spiritual movement rooted in Jewish mythology. Now, I know the rich and famous are people, too, and they wonder about the meaning of life just like everyone else but it seems that ever since Madonna wore the $26 red string bracelets that “ward off the evil eye”, it became a trend and people followed. After that people like Demi Moore told Vogue that Kabbalah helps one reveal “the value of your worth.” And Britney Spears has even come to embrace Kabbalah, along with many other celebrities, including Jeff Goldblum, Ashton Kutcher, Guy Ritchie, David and Victoria Beckham, and Elizabeth Taylor.

Another religion to follow the same path is Scientology. Now my knowledge of scientology is based off of my uncle telling me about his friends’ experience, Paul Haggis (Crash, Million Dollar Baby), who recently dropped out of the religion after 30 years and hundreds of thousands of dollars devoted to the church. Leaving Scientology isn’t taken lightly especially when you are a high-ranking, high profile member. The religion is based on a science fiction book written by L. Ron Hubbard in 1952 and was recreated by people who believed his findings to be true. I’m not discouraging the religion because I know that, with all religions, bring people peace and comfort but it seems like celebrities have jumped right on this bandwagon. With Hollywood royalty such as John Travolta and Tom Cruise being in the top ranks of the religion, who wouldn’t want to join. They even have a celebrity centre, which I have seen, and it looks like a castle in the middle of downtown L.A.. Members can go to these places and have special benefits as well as auditing, which they do regularly, for a price. When the religion was created they figured celebrities would have a key role to play in the distribution of Scientology, and in 1955 launched Project Celebrity, creating a list of 63 famous people to target for conversion to Scientology. “Former silent-screen star Gloria Swanson and jazz pianist Dave Brubeck were among the earliest celebrities attracted to Hubbard’s teachings.” Today, Scientology operates eight churches that are designated Celebrity Centers, the largest of these being the one in Hollywood. Entertainers such as John Travolta, Kirstie Alley, Lisa Marie Presley, Nancy Cartwright, Jason Lee, Juliette Lewis, Isaac Hayes, Edgar Winter, Tom Cruise, Chick Corea and Katie Holmes have generated publicity for Scientology.

Although most may be participating these religions for their beliefs, it does seem that people have joined because they saw their favourite star was wearing the red band. In our culture today it seems like people want what the rich and famous want and if you can afford a religion like Scientology, you are in a higher class. It does seem strange to pair popular culture with religion but in some cases it seems like they are only fads that will diminish.

On a side note screenwriter Paul Haggis, who I mentioned earlier left Scientology, wrote an article for The New Yorker earlier this year. If you have any interest in what goes on in this religion I highly recommend this article. It is so fascinating hearing what it was like from someone who was in it for thirty years and became one of the top ranking members. It goes into detail about what happens behind the scenes of the sealed tight religion and even reveals the final secrets that you learn as when you reach the top. Although it is 26 pages long, it’s worth the time.

read article here

Going Viral

Viral, a word people associated mainly with sickness. Up until a couple years ago it was always thought as a bad thing but now people are seeing it in a whole new light. From The Lonely Island’s “Lazy Sunday” to “Double Rainbow” viral videos have become a new pop culture phenomenon. Viral videos can best be described as short video clips with unusually shocking or humorous themes often shared on social networks, video sharing websites and personal emails. Viral videos get their name because of the virus-like way they spread across the Internet. What may start out as a private family video turns into a huge success meaning money, merchandise being made and not to mention recognition for someone who otherwise would just be an average Joe. Not until YouTube could someone film their son after the dentist and weeks later be talked about across North America with over 81,000,000 views and counting. It may have started before them but the guys that made one of the most recognizable viral videos would be The Lonely Island. With the power of Saturday Night Live they have made many videos, originating with their own and going viral with “Lazy Sunday” and “D*ck in a Box”, the SNL Digital Shorts have paved the way for many ahead.

Not only have sites such as YouTube, College Humor, Funny or Die and many others given people an outlet to reach thousands of people with their videos, they have also given marketers a new medium. Now call Buzz Marketing, advertisers and marketers are creating videos and spots specifically for the internet and get internet celebrities, for example Jake and Amir from College Humor to do ads for College Humor. One of the first online ads was Cadbury who posted a video, now famous, of a Gorilla playing the drums to Phil Colins “In the Air Tonight”. After it was posted it gained attention and soon was being sent to people around the world by word of mouth. This was a sort of free publicity for companies and now everyone is competing to be the next one. YouTube now has many sponsors and some who even pay the “YouTubers” as they call them, once they receive a certain amount of subscribers. People are now making a living by creating their own videos. Two people that I personally follow are the CTFxC, Charles Trippy and Alli Speed who for the past year and a half have made a video just blogging about their life, their dogs, their relationship and just what they do everyday. You somehow get connected to them and want to keep watching especially after they were very successful with a video in which Charles proposes to Alli in Spain.

Videos that have also gone viral now include musicians as well. Who can forget where Justin Bieber came from (originally my home town Stratford, Ontario) but he received fame from becoming one the most subscribed musicians on YouTube and from there was fought over by record labels. These mediums allow for celebrities to create themselves in away by letting people watch what they want and chose who they want to see.

It seems every week there is a new viral video everyone “has to see!” It is amazing how people can now become famous by posting a home video, creating a funny clip with their old camcorder or by covering the popular song at the moment and if you’re good enough people can watch you. From “Bed Intruder” to “Star Wars Kid” and lonelygirl15 to “Laser Cats” viral videos continue to pop up with the help of websites, now based upon giving people access to these, and there is no end in sight.