Celebrity Culture: Return to Paganism?


by msabaye

I heard the story of Abraham in early childhood; I think it was in the introduction to religion very early on in school. When Abraham crashed the idols, he cried, "How could you worship something you made yourselves?"

Celebrities somehow resemble those idols in that they are always man-made: whether it is a single person or company or a collective behind making a "star" or celebrity, the element of fabrication is strongly present. This is not to discount the effect of certain personal or professional qualities, but there is substantial weight of fandom involved: how many people like/follow you is as strong a factor as how talented, qualified, or productive you are, if not more. Take shows like Canadian or American Idol (note the title) or So you think you can dance, where how well the participant presents his/her art is not sufficient, but he/she has to be popular, in fact, most popular to move up.

Celebrities are man-made and worshiped by men. They are a powerful force in selling consumer products: what they wear, where they vacation, what they eat is emulated (most often with cheaper replicas or substitutes) by many. But what is the appeal? Why do people make idols to worship them?

I think one answer is just that: to worship. In the absence of religion, man needs or wants something to look up to, aspire to. Celebrities, representing good looks and good lives, provide beyond a role model, more like a beacon, for all those who have anything but. The new celebrity culture has been replacing religion, myths, and archetypes for us: if we cannot, or don't want to bother to, reach out to our ancestors or heavens, we can grope for what is available, what seems possible: to put on clothes, accessories, and make-up that such and such has to achieve a moment of sparkle, an image of ourselves resembling the one in the spotlight. We connect to something beyond ourselves when feeling recognized for our hard work to look like them -those up there showered by the lights. Now, what would Abraham have to say about that?


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Anahid Hojjati

Thanks for another well written blog

by Anahid Hojjati on

At least one good point with celebrities is that there is a choice. Most celebritie become well known because of their talent. If they were not good actors, funny comedians, great singers, they would not have become celebrities. Even the ones that some people ridicule and say that they don't get why for instance "kim Kardashian" is famous, there is always a good reason behind their celebrity status. The ones that I have problem with are offensive ones like some comedians in 1990s who really had offensive material but theyn again, some people conected with them and made them celebrity. Usually the repulsive ones' fame does not last long. As I get older and watch less TV, many times I see names and pictures of famous TV people whom I have no idea who they are.

Tiger Lily

I don't get it. Che rabti dareh?

by Tiger Lily on

Obviously, celebrities are celebrated products, especially easily consumed within global market fundamentalism and not much else, unless you're claiming that consumerism is a supernatural cult like all other religions.

Ali P.

Abraham was obnoxious

by Ali P. on

I remember them, telling us that story, to teach us about the wisdom of Abraham.

Can you imagine, today, some moron barging in and crashing your idol, or other  worshiping material, just to deliver you a point??

I'd kick his ass! Jerk!

Jahanshah Javid

Free to worship

by Jahanshah Javid on

The worship of idols -- celebrities or religious leaders or politicians -- comes easily, naturally. What I admire, love, about free societies is that you have a choice to seek those who inspire, who make you laugh, or cry, or... without being systematically, physically, compelled.

There's something to be said about the psychological bondage to such idols, but I always compare things to what we have in Iran. And compared to Iran, the "idol-worshiping" we witness or experience in free societies is virtually harmless.

Another thoughtful blog. Thank you!

Maryam Hojjat

Great Truth in your blog

by Maryam Hojjat on


COP:  You said well:

Since when did any religion was a positive force in humankind's yearning to crawl out of the pits of ignorance? If anything, it is an instrument of ignorance.


Why Celebrities?

by Cost-of-Progress on

Times have changed. Celebrities used to be religious figures, Popes, Kings and nobles, now they are people like Kardashians (not the aliens on Star Trek), Paris Hilton and Jennifer Lopez. It is the same idea, just applied to a different groups in society.

You noted "In the absence of religion, man needs or wants something to look up to, aspire to...." What absence? Seems to me that except for Europe (thanks to Renaissance) the influence of religion is gaining momentum. Besides, since when did any religion project a positive force in humankind's yearning to crawl out of the pits of ignorance? If anything, it is an instrument of ignorance.

Anyway, like you said, most of the celebrity fanfair is to sell products endorsed by someone people think they love.....So, Money is the motive: Big Surprise!