Dissecting our celebrity obsession

Do you wake up wondering what Kim Kardashian is eating for breakfast? Or do you go to sleep desperate to know what Gigi Hadid will wear on the Red Carpet?

If so, you could be one of a high number of Britons suffering from an identified psychological condition: Celebrity Worship Syndrome. No, I’m not kidding. According to psychologists one in three people are so obsessed with someone in the public eye that they suffer from this very condition.

Additionally, one in four are so obsessed with their idol that their obsession starts to affect their daily life. But in today’s society, is it really any surprise that such celebrity addiction has soared to new heights?

We live in a media-saturated, celebrity-obsessed society. We cannot get away from that – and here at Avant HQ, we’re willing to admit that we’re the first to rush to the Daily Mail’s showbiz pages each morning (all in the name of work, of course!)

But this is nothing new; celebrity has been around for a long, long time. You only have to look back to the Beatlemania phase of the 60s to see mirror images of the phenomenon that surrounds One Direction. Go back to the 90s and you’ll find hoards of young girls that followed the Spice Girls religiously, much like Little Mix today.

But, have we gone too far? Our celebrity obsession appears to have become sensationalised by modern society, with everything now accessible due to the instant delivery of celebrity gossip – the ubiquitous influence of celebrities and their lifestyles will surely only continue to grow with social media platforms such as Snapchat and Instagram allowing stars to update their followers on a regular basis.

Gone are the days where we kept our diaries double padlocked and hidden like some sort of national treasure because we were so worried a friend or family member might, God forbid, find out the name of your crush – nowadays almost everything is out there in the public domain.

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In fact, such secrecy may seem like a long lost memory, thanks to the many celebrities that share everything online. Recently, for example, Kim Kardashian broke the Internet, not once but twice, after sharing a naked selfie with the world, followed weeks later by a post on her Snapchat account sharing her pregnancy test action with millions of fans. It seems that there is nothing celebrities won’t share these days.

In our line of work, we know that celebrity culture is by no means a wholly negative experience, however – it’s just a question of how we use it. For example, brands can gain a lot of positive attention due to their use of celebrity and many charitable campaigns have thrived with celebrity inclusion. Take the Ice Bucket Challenge where everyone from Cristiano Ronaldo to Taylor Swift got involved, or Emma Watson’s recent plug on the HeForShe campaign. There are in fact, hundreds of examples where celebrities have used their fame and their power within the media-driven culture in order to do something for the greater good.

On the other hand, with large amounts of the population becoming more and more interested in the lives of their favourite celebrities, it is getting impossible to draw the line between appreciation and obsession. For example when people start to self-harm, seen in the case of #cutforbeiber (when fans were urged by the man himself to stop), then surely this culture has gone too far? This must show that people are so emotionally involved in the celebrity world that they live their day-to-day lives through the ever-growing society.

Zayn Malik is another example; when he announced he would be leaving One Direction, some businesses reported that employees had requested compassionate leave. Unsurprisingly, most of them refused to give it.

Don’t get me wrong; I’m not for one moment condemning the desire to look at the latest catwalk trends, or the curiosity in how Rosie Huntington-Whiteley achieves that signature glow. I understand that we need celebrities and the culture they bring – we have always needed this sort of escapism. However, I do wonder if the obsession is going that bit too far and slowly consuming a generation. Do you agree?

– Emma Pearce, PR and Social Intern

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