Tuesday, March 20, 2007

Lifestyles of the Rich and... Who Cares?

Celebrities. We love 'em, we hate 'em, we just can't seem to live without 'em.
I was recently pondering our society's fascination with celebritydom, the lifetstyles of the rich and famous (this is where you can feel free to burst out singing the Good Charlotte song, "Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous"), and came to the conclusion that it is not WE who are at fault; it is the media! Yes, media, that's you I'm talking about. You cannot walk through a grocery store, hair salon, or convenience store without mass media marketing in your face. George Clooney, Naomi Watts, Madonna, all famous names, all household discussions. Now, one might ask "How does this affect me and why is this necessarily a bad thing?" It's not a bad thing, per se. It is more of an out-of control phenomenon that has immersed itself in the minds of young and old alike.
For example, I participate in a mentorship program with the local middle school, spending about 5 hours per week with a little blonde 6th grade girl. This week, I got to her English class as the kids were writing down names of famous people they'd like to research in the library: George Washington, Derek Jeter, Rudy Giuliani, etc. Then I saw what my mentee wrote: Britney Spears, Eminem, J-Lo, and Anna Nicole Smith.

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I asked my mentee what her reasons were for writing these names, to which she replied by telling me how they all are interesting people, and that she'd like to know why Anna Nicole Smith died from an overdose. I thought to myself how unfortunate it is that my young mentee, someone who should be so innocent and naive, is researching drug-induced deaths of trashy celebrities. I wanted to tell her that this is something she should not worry about, she should stick with the classy famous people and the true important historical figures. But that stuff doesn't sell tabloids, does it? The reason kids love celebrities is the same reason the older generation does: they're popular. Pick up any issue of Cosmo, and there is an extremely high chance that the woman on the cover is a famous person.
My mentee did not know better, she simply wanted to learn about the things her friends were probably discussing at the lunchtables, which is also probably the same thing they overheard their parents talking about over dinner. I learned a lot that day in mentoring. I learned the shallowness of many aspects of our culture, and if we only obsess over celebrities and forget the people who truly make a difference, then we all deserve to go back to middle school.



Anonymous Christine said...

And all those kids in middle school who are already counting calories and dieting...it's sick.

March 21, 2007 at 8:23 AM  

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