Day 3262: Why do we care about celebrities?

This morning, I asked Google the question, “Why do we care about celebrities?” I found several online answers as I read this article and this one, too. As I expected, the articles cited empathy, the need to connect, and an antidote to loneliness. Both mentioned positive and negative aspects of caring about celebrities.

Personally, I’ve noticed my caring about celebrities ever since I cried uncontrollably at my school locker when Bobby Kennedy was shot in 1968. In retrospect, I think that sobbing was

  • a collective response to all the assassinations in the 60’s,
  • empathy for his children (I remember that being my main thought at the time), and
  • a “safer” and more distanced way to feel my grief about some personal losses, including my many hospitalizations, operations, and unexamined traumas due to my heart problems.

Since then, I have deeply cared about other celebrities, including Gene Kelly, the Beatles, Davy Jones, Mel Brooks, Pat Metheny, Bonnie Raitt, Jackie Chan, Prince, Clay Aiken, Stephen Sondheim, and many more. I have theories about why I’ve cared about each one of those people, who are all musical, funny and/or underdogs and who somehow speak to something in me. For example, I “figured out” my obsession with Jackie Chan — who often creatively uses common props at hand as he fights off many people with his martial arts and acrobatic skills — when I realized that I had an image of myself grabbing an I.V. pole when I was a kid in the hospital and fighting off people there to escape from the pain I experienced. Also, more simply, Gene Kelly looks like my my father, whom I miss every day. And Clay Aiken, who was an underdog on American Idol, has a clear, soaring tenor voice, as did my dad.

I am also thinking about this question because my son Aaron, my husband Michael, and I finished watching “The Beatles: Get Back” last night, and I was noticing (1) how the Beatles are so familiar to me that they feel like friends or family and (2) I couldn’t look at John Lennon without thoughts and feelings about his murder in 1980.

Do you see caring about celebrities in my images for today?

Do you care about St. Nicholas and other celebrities?

Here’s John Lennon and “Imagine.”

I am grateful for all those — celebrities and otherwise — whom I’ve cared about, including YOU.

Categories: personal growth, photojournalism | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , | 20 Comments

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20 thoughts on “Day 3262: Why do we care about celebrities?

  1. family matters

  2. We care about those who influence us in a good way, a kind way, a beneficial way. Not necessarily celebrities, many of whom can be shallow, uncaring, and self centred.

  3. Debbie T

    I wonder if your cats consider the big stuffed tiger to be a celebrity.

  4. I’ve always had a fascination with character actors, most of whom aren’t considered celebrities but who add life and depth to whatever they appear in. I think that’s why the earliest celebrity death I remember that really wrecked me was Marty Feldman. I think about Bernard Fox, Dick Miller, and Jim Hendricks–actors who never really achieved fame and what makes me sad about their deaths is I’ll never get to tell them their work touched me, which, I hope, would have meant something to them.
    There’s a story that a young man responsible for the footlights thanked Oscar Wilde for one of his plays and Wilde replied, “Thank you, sir, for without your work no one could have seen it.” And I think that’s why character actors mean so much to me: their work may go unrecognized but it adds so much light.

  5. Maureen

    Robin Williams.

  6. The first celebrity death I recall being upset about is Roy Orbison. I was about 10 when I heard about his death on the radio, and remember sobbing in my room.

  7. My celebrities have been the critters, the birds that soar openly in the sky , the dogs which showed me prairies, the cats who taught me the art of deceit, the trees who honor me in silence. Celebrities is another word for fame, which nature itself does not seek. Art, however, is the celebration from all of the critters.

  8. I still miss John Lennon, Robin Williams, Tom Petty, and for the beautiful music they created for the world, and JFK and RFK (I thought the brothers were in my family when I was young)

  9. We seem to allow celebrities into our minds, hearts and souls every day, Ann. The next step is to care, I guess. I must say you’ve helped make Harley and now Joan a celebrity to me with your wonderful photos.

  10. I feel very similarly, Ann. I think this is why I’m having a little trouble watching “Get Back.” It is bringing up a lot of memories and feelings, some of which feel a little heavy to me right now. We’ve experienced a lot of very tragic celebrity deaths, and I think when these individuals have been outstanding in their talents and they’ve shared themselves through performance, if we connect with their gift to us, the loss when we lose them does indeed feel very personal. Lots to consider, and thank you for that.

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