I migrated this over from my old blog because it’s JUST 2 GOOD. This ridiculous idea is my favorite invention of modern culture. Does no one ever stop to think about how weird it is that we HAVE celebrities? The strange human invention of the pop demigod is basically birthing a new strain of sociopath. We’re constructing and meticulously destroying images of ourselves in order to understand mortality, and as a result we make people into images, and those images go BATSHIT crazy in real life. Celebrity is a religious celebration of nihilism. Think about that the next time you’re watching 1 Night in Paris.
Anyone who’s my friend in real life knows that I’ve recently become obsessed with the concept of Acquired Situational Narcissism. This is a term coined by a psychologist who made the leap between the science of mental health and celebrity culture, which is so often dismissed and simplified by us normals. Most people, even if they love Hollywood and movie/TV stars, tend to regard that world as ridiculous, privileged, and untouchable. Like it can’t be really understood by outsiders, because no one is ever gonna know what it’s like to be a celebrity until they really are one. There’s no canoodling with strangers at a bar when you’re Nicole Kidman. Those strangers, those lawyers and clerks and salespeople and cooks, won’t see you as Nicole Kidman, they’ll see you as NICOLE KIDMAN.
That kind of divide, between those in the limelight and those in the dark, creates ASN. It is the actual psychological condition of being famous. You can read up here.
Most might say that “it’s common sense that celebrities are egoistic, fucked-up and demanding, because they’re spoiled and the world really does revolve around them.” But I think it’s actual common sense that celebrities are egoistic, fucked-up and demanding because they have no sense of self. In other words, they’re marketed as images and brands and they hang out with other people who have been converted into images and brands. They start to see themselves as stand-alone entities, special. They can’t conceptualize of their existence in terms of humankind – only celebritykind. It’s not about where they stand in theworld, it’s about where they stand in their own world. A celebrity is scrutinized so exhaustively that when they are not looked at, they metaphysically disappear.
So in turn, that frantic state of existence breeds the host of psychological issues known as ASN. Attention-seeking behaviors like substance abuse; outrageous physical and emotional needs; stunted and ritualistic social behavior. All of that emerges from the sad fact that a famous person can never return to being a human, to the natural state in which they began life.
There are many more topics in media studies that seem to me to be an outgrowth of this theory (or, I suppose, fact). Anyone interested in human culture’s bizarre and ingrained drive to deify individuals should definitely read Haunted by Chuck Palahniuk. He does some really great non-academic work on celebrity – how we construct them and nourish them and then systematically break them. Apparently it’s all about how we want to destroy God because we can’t be Him. Or it’s a way to celebrate our own humanity and then revel in self-hate because we are mortal. Loves it.