In a truly equitable and harmonized society, celebrities will not exist.
People will still be acknowledged for their accomplishments and thanked for their contributions to the world, but that’s the thing (or one of the things):
Right now, every person on the planet is worthy of the same level of acknowledgement as our culture’s movie stars, rock stars, and politicians.
You’ve all contributed to our world in heart rending ways. How much of it have you never been acknowledged for? What have you given to your family, friends, and society that you weren’t compensated for with money or acknowledgement, but which took more effort, heart, sweat, and tears than work that people do that makes them wealthy and famous?
(Tangentially, this is why Universal Basic Income is a foregone inevitability in a conscientiousness society.)
Have you ever asked yourself why celebrities exist?
It’s not because they are inherently more talented than you. They may have mastered a certain line of work, but you undoubtedly have equally profound talents in other departments.
Why have we chosen to glorify people who make movies, for instance? “Because movies are awesome,” is true, but not deep enough.
What makes movies awesome? One reason they are, is because they serve as a way to connect with fantasy, to imagine and inhabit possibilities that surpass ordinary experience.
Essentially we get to pretend to be someone else, somewhere else. A tantalizing proposition, but one that clearly and inherently poses the threat of a shift in power away from ourselves and towards the objects of our fantasies.
Turning those fantasies into idols shifts personal power away yet further. It’s a strange thing, to develop actual feelings for a celebrity, but it happens. Admiration, love, attachment, obsession, jealousy, resentment, and everything else. All of these emotions are possible to develop for a person who probably won’t ever know you exist.
But when we turn people into idols, we’re not truly feeling for the person. Our feelings are for the concept of the person we’ve developed in our minds.
It’s worse than loving a person who will never know you exist. It’s like giving your power to a phantom that isn’t capable of knowing you exist.
This makes fixation with celebrities, by its very nature, an exercise in inequity.
An essential hallmark of healthy relationships is balance. If you give integral parts of yourself to someone that doesn’t give back, you’re likely to become drained and dejected.
Celebrities often give back in a way, through the actions of their lives and careers. Through their behavior in the community and on the global stage.
But if what they do fulfills you personally and rewards you for your affections, that’s a happy accident.
You have a specific concept of them. They have a vague and generalized concept of you. That’s not a healthy, balanced relationship. It’s not even a relationship.
All that aside, the most pertinent problem we have pertaining to celebrities is that they become our scapegoats.
We often put them on pedestals while selling ourselves short.
Then we focus on their failings, often to avoid looking at our own.
I think this is changing.
We seem to be starting to spring more and more often from celebrity gossip into discourse about our own lives, and what we can do to improve ourselves and our culture.
Those who are fine with our culture the way it is tend to get sucked into those conversations too. The more, the merrier.
As for unequal power differentials, the current siege against sexual harassment and assault in Hollywood is showing us that perhaps we can make a more equitable society where celebrities aren’t given special rights due to power, money, and privilege. We’ll see what happens.
Ultimately, it behooves us to cease courting our concepts of others. That goes for people in our physical proximity as much as it does for celebrities.
Let’s be noble caretakers of our personal power. Invest it where there will be abundant reciprocation, so you have some extra to give to those who may not return it but certainly need it for their survival.
If you’re going to put someone on a pedestal, put yourself there first, but do it on a humble knee that invites everyone else up onto that pedestal too.
We don’t need idols as much as we need harmony and equality.
This is why the presidential campaign I’m building is called HICKS/YOU 2020. Because I’m not going anywhere without you. The presidency is not about status or power or recognition. It’s about bringing this country and this world together in harmonious victory. In a true democracy, everyone becomes president, and we don’t idolize individuals anymore. We step into our collective power together and claim the world that’s been only dreamed of and spoken about in lofty rhetoric until now.
We’ve come so far. Let’s keep going.
Also published on Medium.