I’ve been obsessed with Hollywood and celebrity culture since before I could read. I’m not sure that animated Disney characters are technically celebrities, but that’s where the love affair started. We had a small theater that we would drive to in a picturesque town about 20 minutes from our home. When the pastures and tall oaks began to be replaced by weeping cherry trees on manicured lawns with distinctive Tudor timber framed homes…I knew we were almost there.
Spring-action red velveteen seats were like mini-thrones to cozily bear witness to the wide screened spectacle. One shared small popcorn and lemonade were all we could afford, but it seemed like a bounty. Dancing concession treats and a shorter cartoon would usher us into the main event. I was entranced, always.
As I grew older, live action supplanted my love of animation. Seeing Kim Richards and Ike Eisenmann escape to Witch Mountain convinced me that I too one day, when I grew a little older, would have Tia’s magical powers. They made it all seem so possible and real to me and I was enamored.
Youthful magical pursuits eventually gave way to teenage crushes. I’d wait with anticipation for my next issue of Tiger Beat to arrive, a subscription I paid for with my meager allowance. The two page spread on the inside would soon adorn my walls, haphazardly hung with rolled up circles of Scotch tape on the back as not to tear or mar the image.
Sean Cassidy was my first real crush. Although Parker Stevenson was running a close second for quite some time. My parents hated my obsession. I grew up in a very religious household and they treated it as if I had erected some statue to a newer version of Baal in my room to worship. It wasn’t that deep in my mind, but retrospectively viewing it now, it may have been.
I continued my pop culture obsession throughout my adult life. My Twitter handle and blog website name can attest to that. Ever fascinated by the lives of the not-always rich, but definitely famous. They had to be doing something right to be living these amazing, opulent lives, no?
When discussing it with people who deemed it unseemly, I often resorted (and still do) to extolling my passion for people watching in general. My friend Brianna more aptly dubs it voyeurism. When she first uttered it, I recoiled while visions of peeping toms danced in my head. She was one hundred percent correct though. I’d been performing mental gymnastics calling it a sociological study to justify my pursuits.
Then entered the dreaded pandemic. Everyone was now forced into a similar circumstance that I had willingly been reveling in for years, including the celebrities I had once been so fascinated by. Something clicked in me that I’m still processing at this very moment. In a world riddled with the fear of the unknown, all of the things I had been so enchanted by seemed ridiculously petty in the unforgiving light of sequestering.
Seeing posts of tireless medical personnel risking their own health to care for people battling this novel virus captured my attention and filled my spirit far more than the ramblings of a celebrity stuck in their home like I was. The drone shots of a big-wig quarantining on a yacht in front of gorgeous sunset seemed positively gauche. Could they be that tone deaf? Did they honestly think that in this moment I’d find relief in them gyrating on Tik Tok to their favorite tune?
With each passing day my eyes were rolling more and more, to the point where I was giving myself headaches. Mind you, not all of them are vainglorious. There are several that have found a way to use their celebrity for the good of others through the crisis. Captain Lee from Below Deck still has a calming presence for me as he shares updates and reassures us we will make it through. Christian Siriano is stepping up as well, using his sewing abilities to create much needed masks for hospital workers. I’m finding though that they’re in the minority.
Most are still trying to grab whatever attention they can from their homes solely to boost their insatiable egos. Some are still pimping their palette of the month like the good little influencers they are. Awkward. Especially since make-up has become almost non-existent in my daily ritual. (Any Skype requests will need at least a 30 minute warning in my house.)
So I guess what I’m getting at is this. Celebrities, at least the tone-deaf and vain ones, I’m breaking up with you. It’s not you, it’s me. You’re doing everything you’ve always done. All of the things I thought were so cool and important and put you on a pedestal for are still on display for the consumption of others. It’s just not working for me anymore.
I’ll still find escapism from the monotony of quarantine in the wild tales of Joe Exotic, or the crazy antics of my favorite Real Housewives, but it will be with a different mindset. One that realizes that just because you have wealth or power, it shouldn’t mean that you should able to get tests that the heroic essential workers can’t find to literally save their lives. And one that sees you for exactly who you are, non-pedestal worthy humans just like us plebs. I’ll be saving my idol worship for the heroes among us.
To all my friends out there, I hope that you are safe and healthy. You’re loved, valued, and most definitely not alone even though we’re apart.