THE BLOG

Celebrities: Better than Jesus?

22/05/2013 12:26 BST | Updated 21/07/2013 10:12 BST
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Celebrities are everywhere, gurning at us from screens, newspapers and magazines, invading the planet like a deadly weed. A-List to D-List, their eyes follow us wherever we go - giant, glossy, empty stares. Don't be scared! It's only paper.

We all want to be loved - stared at, adored. Or is that just me? We've all dreamed of draping ourselves in wafer thin ham and showing off in public. Or is that just me (again). I want a bodice just like Beyonce's, with the boob region embroidered with a giant pair of sequinned boobs. What to mere mortals is madness, put on a celebrity becomes genius. A few pounds of meat draws a million pounds' worth of publicity. Boobs disguised as boobs becomes headline news. It's magic.

When celebrities do mad things, it's eccentric. When I do mad things - it's - well, mad. So what is this weird looking glass world where we can look but not touch and everything looks so much bigger?

The Victorians had High Society, the circus and the freakshow. We've got it all, strangely muddled. Beyonce is a pop princess, and the Duchess of Cambridge is a pop star. Screaming crowds greet both of them wherever they go. I'm not even going to mention TOWIE.

The Duchess is famous for being married to a guy who's famous because of his gran, who's famous because of her dad who's famous because of his dad - and repeat. At least Beyonce is famous for talent and determination. Oh - and I suppose I ought to mention that they're both good-looking. The Duchess of Cambridge works hard for good causes, and is linked to a list of charities long as your arm, just as the Queen is. Beyonce was the ambassador for World Humanitarian Day - and also Pepsi, in deal that netted her fifty million dollars. A girl's got to work, I guess. Someone's got to pay for all those sequins.

Imagine being reflected in a million eyes. Like a freak-show mirror, it magnifies and distorts the good and the bad - a blessing and a curse. A mirror is cold, unemotional. The public is anything but - throwing colour, mood, desire onto the subject, twisting it out of shape. Is there any other way to explain Justin Bieber's hair?

The collective worship of millions - even billions - across the planet is bound to send you a tiny bit peculiar. Maybe that's what prompted John Lennon to say that the Beatles were 'more popular than Jesus'. Could it be? Is Justin Bieber bigger than God? We thought so for a time, before his Youtube views were soundly thrashed by the South Korean wonderboy, Psy. Maybe this is why he's sulking now, turning up late for concerts and generally misbehaving.

For better or worse, we make celebrities into role models, analysing their every move, and haircut. Should we be shocked when some don't stand up to scrutiny? And are we part of the problem? In 'Paper Towns', John Green writes that we find it difficult to understand other people: 'We idealize them as gods or dismiss them as animals.'

When we're not fainting over celebrities, we're criticizing their hair, their make up, their choice of entertainment, laughing over pictures of how they look without make up, because it makes us feel a powerful to throw stones at our new gods.

The ones who are famous for being famous get the worst criticism. Surely they deserve the highest praise? They've made something out of nothing. Even Jesus needed water to make wine. Don't criticise celebrities for being celebrities. Applaud their style: no fear, no doubt, no shame. Suddenly anything is possible.

Celebrities break up, and break down, all in the public eye - in a mess of raw emotion, laid out for all to see. For a moment, we feel a little bit more human, because we feel it too. We need nurses, doctors, lawyers; we need lifeboats, lifesavers, people who stand up and make a difference, who help others.

But we need to feel human too.

This is a tidied up version of a post I wrote to help a student write about Celebrity Culture for the GCSE English Language Exam. Read my seriously unfunny Education blog here.