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Living in a world of celebrity role models

By Carmen Awad
On February 8, 2010

At the dawn of every New Year, the media likes to remind us of the most “memorable” moments of the year that has passed. In the world of Hollywood this usually means the most trivial nonsense. Who cares what happened with Taylor Swift? I mean, I am not vindicating Kanye West for his rude behavior toward her, but to make a martyr out of her and make a devil out of drunken celebrities is taking it too far. In writing this, I would like to mention that I am not a fan of either of them and that I did not even know who Taylor Swift was, I haven’t hear any of Kanye West’s songs.

Ranting aside, this country is obsessed with trifling celebrity news. We overplay and magnify celebrity drama to feed our emptiness and entertain ourselves with other peoples’ misery. We occupy ourselves with far too much reality TV, twitter news feeds and various other nonsense. Why do we live in a world where vain information takes precedence over real information? We have “artists,”such as Lady Gaga, who in the name of “art,” and say the most preposterous things. What’s worse is that we continue to fuel this rubbish by scourging real art and real singers. I know that art can be a very subjective topic and that some may find Picasso’s work strange while others may think he created masterpieces. However, the trend seems to be that vulgar behavior and continual “shocking” acts desensitize human emotion.

As of January 6, 2010, the United States Census Bureau estimated the world population to be 6.8 billion. This number is a whole lot bigger than Hollywood’s selected few, whom we keep obsessing over. Why don’t we, as a society give, other professions more importance and look to other professionals as role models? Instead, more and more people are in search of stardom, while qualified engineers and scientists are in the decline.

Jack Harris, a columnist for “Materials World,” stated that we are facing the prospect of a severe shortage of qualified scientists and engineers. This trend is also happening overseas. In his article, “The Wrecking of British Science,” Nobel Laureate Harry Kroto pointed out that during the past five years almost a third of UK university physics departments have either closed or merged. Furthermore, more young people are opting to study media studies rather than physics.

Why do we need to quench our vacant lives with celebrity gossip? The problem with celebrity gossip is that the celebrity life-style is usually projected as the ideal life style. The “glamorous life” becomes so tempting that the average person would think that it is what makes a person successful. This overplayed image of glamour does not necessarily make a person happy. Usually such a life would involve a lot of corruption, personal decay, drugs and excessive drinking. With these bad habits finding their way into music and movies, American youths have increased their consumption of liquor and drugs. According to the Bureau of Justice Statistics the percent of students reporting street gang presence at school nearly doubled between 1989 and 1995, increasing from 15.3 percent to 28.4 percent (Bureau of Justice Statistics, U.S. Department of Justice). Another report stated that each year, students spend $5.5 billion on alcohol, more than they spend on soft drinks, tea, milk, juice, coffee or books combined. On a typical campus, per capita students spending on alcohol — $446 per student — far exceeds the per capita budget of the college library (Eigen, 1991 in the 1998 National Household Survey on Drug Abuse).

Imagine if such a cost was saved and spent on books. Or imagine if such a cost was spent to diminish poverty and help the less fortunate. I am not here to preach about vices, but the continual obsession with the typical “college life” has become horrifying. Even the term “college life” has changed for the worse over the years. Why do we brainwash ourselves with the idea that every person must go through this “experience” in order to fully mature? Why must “experience” come with a shot of tequila?

It seems that, in college movies, experiences have more to do with drinking and promiscuity than anything else. Some might argue that being promiscuous is not very dangerous now since youth have more knowledge of sexually transmitted disease than past generations, but the article “Perspective on Sexual and Reproductive Health” argues otherwise. According to this article, by T. Lane, adolescents lack specific knowledge of sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) other than HIV, even if they have received relevant sexuality education. It was also reported that although the majority of respondents correctly identified HIV as a major STD (91 percent), just 2 percent could name all eight major STDs (most students left out HPV infections and Trichomonas).

So this reckless “glamorous life” comes with a heavy price. When such ideas of what makes youth cool are played over and over again, they become all that exists. The image presented to people becomes the self-image the audience adopts. Just like the many reality shows that have no meaning or goal, we are becoming what we see. Conversations have less meaning than they used to. I have noticed how nowadays many people would have to exaggerate their talk just to get the other party to believe them or pay attention. Media needs to hype up its news just to get reviews. This might not seem so serious when it is an issue on MTV, but on other channels such “hype” might mean war between countries.

— Carmen Awad is an IC Columnist and a sophomore majoring in business administration.

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