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Infatuation with Fame


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It’s Tuesday night and as the clock approaches 8:00 pm, a common thought crosses the minds of millions of Americans – how much longer until American Idol starts? The minutes pass one at a time and in anticipation people across the nation prepare themselves in front of the television, having already tuned into FOX to ensure that they will not miss a minute of the show. Finally, as the clock strikes eight, the famous theme song and voice of Ryan Seacrest sweeps across the stereos and ears of millions of viewers. Americans have had a long-standing infatuation with music icons, firmly demonstrated in the popularity of American Idol, the one show that gives the viewer the opportunity to get to know the future “American Idol” before they become the next face of the industry. Music icons live a life so far removed from the typical American reality that when faced with the chance to feel closer to the star and watch them rise, viewers are drawn in. But the factors of infatuation are still present and remain the same, despite this common connection that one might feel with their new idol. Americans follow a repetitive trend of becoming fascinated with the “bigger than life” music icons because of their wealth, fame, and influence and power that all consummate a non-realistic lifestyle of riches.
Top of the line everything, cuisine from only the finest of places, and mansions where you could get lost finding your way around – who wouldn’t want this life of instant pleasure? The majority of people yearn for a life like this, but it is unattainable to the average man or woman. That doesn’t mean it isn’t entertaining to watch in awe and talk about wishing for a life like that. Music icons tend to live a lifestyle that can only be aspired to and dreamed of. This draws in the viewers with wonder as they admire their massive amounts of wealth and riches that allow them to purchase any extravagance of their pleasing. For example, MTV, Music Television, has created a popular television show Cribs that feeds off of this entertainment that society gets from watching the life of the rich and famous. The show features music icons such as Lil’ Wayne and his “digs”, his grand home of extravagant “bling”, and Colbie Calliat (a former auditonee for American Idol) and her plush and relaxed home, equipped with its own waterfall outside to add to the “beach-style pool”, while inside she is surrounded by a sea of clothes and other materialistic obsessions. Both homes represent an idealized life that surpasses the capabilities of anyone who isn’t being overpaid for their name and image, and then of course talent as well.
This comfort of security and standard of living is at an inaccessible peak that not even a physician or attorney, two extremely well respected figures of society, can reach in their own attempt at financial security. The United States Bureau of Labor Statistics determined that in 2008 the average annual income of a general practitioner was $161,490, while The National Association for Law Placement ranked the average salary of large firm associates at a high of $183, 000. These figures don’t even compete with salaries such as Miley Cyrus’ $18.2 million or rapper 50 Cent’s $33 million annual income. Thus, this illustration of riches creates a mythical image of the icon’s life that those “below” this standard fawn at with their own meager wealth, incomparable to that of the star’s. These mythical images invoke an enchanting and magical sense that delights the audience with entertainment in watching what they wish was their life. Miley Cyrus, for example, raking in more income as a teenager than the combination of an attorney and doctor’s income, basks in her glory in a Cinderella-like mansion, with perfection captured in every room that only massive amounts of money can buy, captivating viewers with her “magical” lifestyle.
A music icon enters the lime light as they make their fame and fortune with hit songs and platinum albums. The direct result of this fame is the opening and exposing of their life to the general public, leaking personal information out via unflattering tabloid headings or biography information in a widespread distribution across the internet. Is it wrong to know more information about a music icon celebrity than one’s own neighbor? From only a couple clicks on the computer and a few words typed into Google, it can be known that Mick Jagger’s full name is Michael Phillip Jagger, he was born on July 26, 1943, in Dartford, Kent, England, he is a singer, songwriter, musician, producer, and actor, he plays the harmonica, percussion, guitar, and keyboard, and of course is the lead singer for the legendary Rolling Stones rock band, still rocking out in their sixties as if they were in their twenties. Most people couldn’t recite this same information about their own neighbor. But then again, most people aren’t interested in this information about those living right next to them because it isn’t as interesting. Music icons’ lives appear to be almost in a different realm, and thus their lives become more intriguing. Their gossip and scandals add to the entertainment factor, explicitly demonstrated through the massive sales that magazines produce with an unattractive or scandalous photograph on their headings, such as the Britney “Shears” news that even made FOX News’ headlines. The fact that music icon’s lives are exposed is one of the reasons society is drawn in with infatuation. Their wealth and fame makes them different and interesting, but it’s the fact that their entire life is left to be read about that makes them an obsession because the public now has the opportunity to become obsessed by knowing as much information as they can.
“Excuse me, but do you know who I am?” This phrase has become one of the typical lines when impersonating any celebrity, and thus applies to music icons as well. It holds the weight of the influence and power that the music icons get, simplify from their existence, in its slightly snobby and high class tone. In context, it’s supposedly what a celebrity would say to someone who treats them as an ordinary person, and accordingly is suppose to remind that “ignorant” being that they are above the common people and deserve treatment that reflects such a status. Society tends to give music icons, in addition to other celebrities, this “right” of influence and power, which the rest of the ordinary public look up to and respect because, that icon is Madonna, for example, or Justin Timberlake, and their celebrity status alone justifies special V.I.P. treatment. For example, walk into an exclusive restaurant without a reservation and it’s promising that things won’t work out very well. However, if Lady Gaga walks in, trailed by a group of paparazzi, that special table that the restaurant previously claimed was unavailable will suddenly materialize. This sense of being “special” and the control and clout that follows is what contributes to the fixation of these icons by the American public, looking up to this new type of authority as if their influence was on par with an actual leader of the world.
American Idol’s purpose is to entertain and it is successful in doing so, but is the American obsession too much? The show is one of the most popular on television, claiming the number one spot as their own victory, beating out the ever popular and scandalous Desperate Housewives by a 72% margin, according to TV Week. As this is great news for the network, is it ridiculous how infatuated with music icons and idols the American public has become, to the point where people work their schedules around it? This may reveal an underlying priority problem of society. People reward the industry and their icons with an unreasonable amount of time in infatuation that could be better spent elsewhere. Is it right that the public rewards those individuals who have made only minor contributions to society as a whole, when those accolades should be given to those who benefit society more? When faced with the choice between rewarding doctors who save innumerable lives in this world, or the pop and rock stars, satisfying entertainment cravings, society has chosen the latter, disregarding merit as a whole. This choice, while not speaking for every American, shows the majority feeling through the contrasting lifestyles of those who studied hard for their position with those whose pretty face appeared before a music agent. Could our world survive without music celebrities? Yes. Could our world survive without physicians? No. But physicians don’t offer the intriguing entertainment of scandalous fame, excessive wealth, or strong visible power. For many, any thought that this argument has incited will be probably be forgotten, or at least put off, as it is now 8:03pm – hurry, you’re three minutes late!



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