What if there was no more celebrity status? Okay, by definition we can’t really remove celebrity status because it is impossible to stop anyone from becoming well known, and besides, being well known isn’t bad. How about this, what if we remove celebrity worship? That should work. Let’s imagine a world without all of these self aggrandizing public figures we call celebrities (actors, musicians, athletes, politicians, business leaders, etc.). First, what is it that they contribute to the progression of the human race? Why do we lift them up on pedestals? What good is it to worship another person?
I think there must be something innate in people that drives them to worship heroes and celebrities. I call it the God-instinct; it is something inside of of us that directs our minds towards our creator, or the organizing power of the universe, if you prefer. We all have it. It might be called the light of Christ or the light of life or even the human conscience. Whatever you call it it is an influence, sort of like a pre-mortal remembrance of our relationship with God, and a motivating factor to seek him again. Celebrity worship is a dysfunction of the God-instinct. That drive that would lead us to seek God is distracted and diverted until we set another mortal being up as our exemplar and focal point. We treat them like gods, but they have no foundation for being treated that way.
Stories always have heroes and villains, why? Because the battle between good and evil is part of life; it represents the opposition in all things: light and dark, wet and dry, hungry and filled, thirsty and satiated, right and wrong. Heroes represent Jesus Christ who overcame all in order to save everyone who will accept his invitation to be saved and all that it requires. Villains are types of Satan, the master of lies, the great deceiver and counterfeiter. Stories retell this basic plot outline over and over and we are drawn to it. Humans love stories where our favorite character wins. That character becomes our hero and we seek to be like them. In the case of Jesus Christ this is good, but in the case of mortal characters this can be dangerous.
It isn’t bad to have heroes and look up to people, but they shouldn’t replace God and it is important to make sure they are worthy of admiration, showing integrity and other desirable virtues. Now lets consider some of our modern day heroes. I could rattle of a list of some of the more popular professional athletes in the last decade, and then fill in the records of arrest and prosecution to follow. We would have wonderful virtues like dishonesty, cheating, murder, adultery, just to name a few, and of course selfishness. Selfishness might be the cause of these other vices, and it might be caused by the fact that the person is worshiped. Not in every case, but maybe it is the application of adoration based on the fact that a man can throw a baseball really fast or dunk a basketball that leads to a feeling of being larger than life and not accountable. And how about actors? They pretend to be a character and tell a story and this warrants the adulation and focus of the world?
What does acting or playing a sport do for advancing humanity? Maybe real artistic acting, but participating in slasher-style horror movies? Other than the story line that athletes achieve great accomplishments through dedicated hard work – which is likely a lie, remember Lance Armstrong – what do athletes contribute to helping people progress? Do politicians really warrant their public pedestals and fat paychecks? In the second half of the 18th century America was officially founded, on the foundation of centuries of hard work in the face of adversity, culminating in rebellion from a tyrannical government and the establishment of an experiment in human liberty. The next two centuries built upon that foundation for a little while, and then started introducing unnecessary ideas and regulations to the point that we’ve nearly come full circle to where we were before the revolution. If any politician warranted the admiration that some of them currently receive then I would expect them to have corrected a lot of the troubles we face, not contributed to them.
If celebrity worship is a counterfeit expression of what I call the God-instinct then it is dangerous for us to put those actors, musicians, athletes and politicians in place of the God we should be seeking. They are people. All people have the potential to build or destroy. We know, or at least claim to know, that pride can be dangerous and power corrupts. In our distraction we lift up other people to be our heroes and lower case “s” saviors, who then in turn attempt to live up to the label we provide and become self-aggrandizing celebrities. They lead us away from our natural course and we do the same for them. What if there was no more celebrity status and celebrity worship? Perhaps we’d all maintain a more appropriate focus in life, we’d work harder at building ourselves and not compare and contend with our neighbors so much, and maybe we would all be just a bit happier.