Monthly Archives: June 2013

Celebrity Culture is Sick

On a long train journey recently I found myself reading a disregarded copy of a celebrity magazine: the front cover was bursting with pictures of celebrities in varying states of disarray, distress and undress: ‘What Michelle really thinks about Brad’s new girlfriend’ and ‘Stacey loves her new boobs’ screamed the headlines.

As I flipped through the pages, I felt nauseous. Tulisa has a new tattoo on her bikini line which states ‘lucky you’…can you imagine having sex with anyone so utterly narcissistic that they feel the need to leave a written message like that on their nethers? What did she do before she had it? As her lover’s hands travelled down her body, did she look them in the eyes and say it? I don’t know about you but I would find that a massive turn off.

The largest spread in the magazine belonged to a footballer’s wife, posing with her new silicone boobs: ‘How would you describe your new boobs in one word?’ asked the interviewer, ‘Natural’ she replied without a hint of irony. I kid you not.

On page 9, one of the Kardashians was being slated for having botox during pregnancy as it might harm the baby. More lost irony, that a magazine which is part of the endless self-referential media circus which helps to maintain the cult of celebrity, and the endless pressure on women to look perfect, should adopt a moralistic tone about it. God knows, had she developed a millimeter length line on her forehead it would have been on the front cover the week after: ‘Kardshian in forehead line shocker.’

I found myself feeling a plethora of emotions: pity, sadness, anger and fear for the future of our societies. Pity for both the women in the magazine, who can’t even enjoy normal experiences like pregnancy without feeling fat and insecure and the women who read about them and feel that their own wobbly thighs and lined foreheads fall short. Sadness about the fact that at this stage in human history, the people who make the headlines, the people who our children aspire to, appear to be so utterly devoid of intellect, so utterly self-obsessed. Fear and anger that from here, we can only descend further into vacuity, if that were possible.

But, it’s more serious than that. Reading through the lines of all the petty squabbles, broken relationships, diva-like behaviour and obsessive me-ism of the celebrities featured, I felt as though I were reading a mental health diagnosis, a cry for help. Becoming a celebrity, something many aspire to, seems to so isolate you from normality that it conspires to create the ideal conditions for the following traits:

  • Believing that you’re better than others

  • Fantasizing about power, success and attractiveness

  • Exaggerating your achievements or talents

  • Expecting constant praise and admiration

  • Believing that you’re special and acting accordingly

  • Failing to recognize other people’s emotions and feelings

  • Expecting others to go along with your ideas and plans

  • Taking advantage of others

  • Expressing disdain for those you feel are inferior

  • Being jealous of others

  • Believing that others are jealous of you

  • Trouble keeping healthy relationships

  • Setting unrealistic goals

  • Being easily hurt and rejected

  • Having a fragile self-esteem

  • Appearing as tough-minded or unemotional

Where does that list come from? It’s a list of the traits exhibited by people with Narcissistic Personality Disorder, a serious mental health condition characterised by dramatic, emotional behavior, which is in the same category as antisocial and borderline personality disorders. I rest my case: celebrity culture is sick.

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