The Sanctity of Celebrity

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The ritual of mourning takes on new meaning in America whenever a hero has fallen. Heath Ledger may have merely played heroes on the big screen but when it comes to the sanctity of celebrity, how he lived his ‘real’ life doesn’t matter much. In America a pedestal is always preserved for celebrity, and our celebrities serve as role models, heroes — even gods. When news broke of his death, New York’s never-stop work world froze, as strangers weighed in on the tragedy as if he were a close cousin. Even I couldn’t resist a text or two. Camera crews swarmed his NYC residences, providing weeklong coverage of every nailbiting detail from authorities finding him nude, to phone calls made to Mary-Kate Olsen and Michelle Williams’ grim return home. Meanwhile deli workers, neighbors and passerbys cashed in on 15 seconds of fame, claiming to have ties to the famous family. Coverage didn’t quite compare to Princess Di or Kurt Cobain’s death but remained ubiquitous nonetheless. What it is it about these mythic celebrities that we simply cannot resist? Perhaps the excesses of celebrity culture make the ordinary feel more in control or could it be the romanticized notion of being unordinary that lures us into a life we viracariously aim to be a part of?

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2 responses to “The Sanctity of Celebrity

  1. We make our own gods whether we place them in the Bible or in People Magazine. And indeed these gods become the distraction or solace that keeps us from turning inward to examine our own actions, thoughts, or deeper questions about life. Plus, it’s always easier to admire/covet/feel superior to someone else’s questionable behavior, taste in fashion, or choice of companion. Celebrity adoration is the easy way out. We crave the simplicity of it all—and in return for our blind fascination (and often cash), Hollywood always delivers.

  2. thirdpartypirate

    the concept of celebrity as a tragic hero makes us feel better about our lives. we build them up only to rip them down — and come along for the entire ride.

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