I have always been mindful of the changes around me. My personal perspective leans on the idea that people change based on their surroundings. The people that influence your behavior come in many forms. When I was growing up, my influences were a good balance of secular and religious. My peers helped me understand what was considered “cool” and later on helped me realize that “coolness” was not the only way to live. I was the quiet kid that was always listening. I had a curiosity that could not be contained. My interest in other people’s lives sometimes brought me to the brink of breaking social norms. Even as a boy, I was watching people. Everyone. My peers, my teachers, my mentors, and my parents. When I finally started to have conversations with those my age, I found myself very outmatched in pop culture. I had not seen the movie that came out last weekend. I had not played the video game. I wanted to be part of the conversation. I wanted to belong.
This is not a new concept in childhood development, but I didn’t realize how deep I would take it until later. I slowly caught up on my pop culture. I wanted to be able to keep up with the people around me. Even into young adulthood, I continued the exploration of the celebrities. I knew the names of the actors, the characters they played, and exact quotes to recite. I have always loved movies (or films) as a way to tell a story. The visuals pull me in and the soundtracks keep me coming back. The witty dialogue of my favorites catered to my dry sense of humor. The massive scale that can be captured in such a short span of time never fails to fascinate. I remember watching the bonus features to learn how each part was made. I studied how actor, producer, or director described the work.
I became obsessed with the concept of the interview. I couldn’t get enough of them. I would watch them back-to-back. The type of person did not matter to me as long as the interview was interesting. I even found myself watching what passes for entertainment, but were basically stalking videos made by the tabloids. These (deeply disturbing videos) made me understand the pressure and stress that was being put on these people. Any hint of fame that is placed upon a human is followed quickly by a complete lack of privacy. These media outlets wait for the moments that no one needs to see, but people will pay to see. Do I care that my favorite celebrity is going to the gym? Nope. However, someone has to be interested or the magazines wouldn’t sell. With these “journalists” creating the supply, the public increase the demand. The cycle can only be stopped if we don’t participate. For more thoughts on breaking away from this cycle, see Human Again.
Let’s jump into the shoes of the famous. Everyone seems very interested about their lives, after all. These people have been exposed to various levels of fame and opportunity. Each one had handled it in different ways. After a few years of being followed everywhere, it is no wonder why some of them take extreme measures to change. Their fame may grow stale from the lack of controversy. This seems to be especially true for those who started young. A large number of the people that I “grew up with” went on to completely obliterate their innocent image. With few exceptions, my generation of celebrities broke away from their original selves and went wild. Former Disney stars in current movies that encourage negative social behavior. If you grow up surrounded by people that have loose moral codes, how would you know the difference? If you have lived in a bubble where everyone thinks you can do no wrong, why would you stop? Where is the alternative? Perhaps I am being judgmental or imposing ideal beliefs. How different is that type of change compared my need to belong? These are questions for people with more experience in the field of psychology and social interaction.
While we wait for our psychology friends to finish their case studies, I would like to look at a more “down to earth” example of this change. My other favorite media in life is music. It has been with me since my dad first introduced me to classical music. You wouldn’t know it to look at me, but when I was a teenager and young adult, I was all about Rock and Metal (of the Christian variety). I needed the intense drumming or whining electric guitar solo in my life. One of my favorites was an upcoming Punk Rock star that wrote songs that applied to everyone. I had found that a lot of artists wrote songs for one type of person. I loved the idea of going broad, rather than confining the song to one situation. When her second album came out, I couldn’t wait to listen to it. I was surprised to find the theme a little less Punk and a little more Pop. Don’t misunderstand, I love me some Pop, but this was strange coming from this artist. A couple years later, her third album came out and it was so similar to the Top 40 Pop songs on the radio, I was a little shocked.
Question: Was this a result of the artist growing into a different person or of the industry morphing her into a Pop singer. I don’t believe this would have bothered me so much if I had not seen this happening to other artists as well. I assume this is the purist in me. When our favorite young Country singer turned into a full-blown Pop queen, what are we to do? I listened to an interview recorded back when her first album was released. She talks about how much she loves country music and how she was inspired to follow in their footsteps. What happened to that person? I know that we all change over time, but if you started writing music when you were 12 years old, that is part of your core. Are core values so easily swayed? Another one lost to the will of the mob?
As my adult life starts to come into focus, I can see what I want with for my future and I am looking forward to the adventure. I no longer have to try to impress my peers with my knowledge of the latest movie. I have learned that knowing too many details of the artists’ personal life can taint the image in my head. We have plenty of role models in the teachers, scientists, entrepreneurs, and mentors that serve to bring society away from the trivial and into a successful future.
What do you think? Am I too hard on the celebrities? Do you feel that you have been molded by the World? Are you comfortable with it or do you rebel against it? Let me know!