Inner Michael » Assignment: “Celebrity”

Assignment: “Celebrity”

What does “celebrity” mean? How does someone become a “celebrity?” Is there a bias in our culture when we speak about, write about or discuss “celebrities?” How does that bias inform how we think about the person identified as a celebrity? The word “celebrity” is a derivative of the word “celebration.” A celebrity is a person who is celebrated. Is it true?

Why are we, as a culture, so interested in celebrity? In celebrities? Does “celebrity” in our culture have a particular “vibe?” Does “celebrity” suggest that the person is “not to be taken seriously?” Does it assume the person is something other than “human?” Does it involve fantasy? Is there inherent in the treatment of “celebrities” that there is a kind of open season on them or their lives? Do we view them as “personalities” rather than people? Do we view them as fully human? Or something “other?”

Are celebrities “untouchable?” Do we feel a kinship with them or just the opposite—that there could never be a kinship? Do we see them as bigger than life? What does that mean? How does seeing them as bigger than life restrict us? Do we afford them the same courtesy and compassion we extend to others? Are they real people? When they are wealthy do we resent their wealth? Is the same true of their success? Is there something phoney about Hollywood? Is there something surreal about this celebrity world? Is it authentic? Why?

Do we see them as necessarily publicity seekers or publicity hounds? Do we assume that they do what they do to get attention? To promote their careers? And do we believe they get what they deserve?

When they have human troubles or fall short of perfection, do we take secret delight in their shortcomings? Do we have a sense of entitlement and believe that we ought to be privy to all the details of their lives—both public and private? Do we feel a sense of joy or exhilaration when discussing their personal lives at the Monday morning water cooler? Do we secretly or openly become gleeful when their personal indiscretions are revealed? And when they “fall from grace” either by actual or contrived means, do we secretly feel glee or at a minimum, delight?

What makes them celebrities in the first place? What makes the public think they are fodder for voyeurism or gawking eyes? If we, the public, feel a sense of entitlement to their personal lives, why is that? And if we don’t why not? Do we ever feel like it’s “too much information” or “too little?” When they are accused of something or criticized for it, do we stop and wonder if it’s true or do we just assume it’s true? Why?

When our culture so obviously values money and possessions in life as being hallmarks of a successful life, and we desire and strive for that ourselves, why do we sometimes resent it or become jealous or envious when someone else achieves it? Do we somehow believe that success is a scarce resource? That there isn’t enough to go around? And when someone else shines as outstanding in their endeavor, why do we feel compelled to compare ourselves to them?

When a beloved figure is recognized for achievement, do we feel admiration? Pride? Jealousy? Envy? Kinship? Inspired? Do we aspire to be beloved ourselves? How do we feel about being beloved? How do we feel about someone else who is a beloved figure? Do we believe there is enough love to go around or do we view it as a scare resource that is limited in quantity or scope? Do we feel there is an allotted amount for everyone and that some people get more than their share?

When someone is recognized for an achievement that is a pinnacle of some kind, are we capable of feeling happy or delighted for them or do we immediately resent that achievement or compare ourselves ensuring that we come up short? Who is responsible for these feelings? Who is responsible for our achievements? Who stands in the way of our achievements or success or fame? And if we fail, whose fault is it?

Is there a standard prescription for success? For failure? Is there a map for how it is to be done? Is there a place to arrive at where one can feel they have arrived? Do some people get more than their share of luck? What is luck? How does it happen? Can one make it happen or make one’s own luck?

Where are you governed from? Does something outside you determine how your life goes? Is it fate? Destiny? Luck? Divine intervention? Does your governance come from inside? Is there a guiding compass that reveals how and where to go or what to do next? How do you get there from here? Who decides?

What is admiration? What is pride? What is inspiration? What is drive? What is genius? Are some people “born” geniuses? Talented? Driven? Lucky? Do we mostly get what we deserve? Do we get what we believe we deserve?

How do you know you are loved? How does anyone know they are loved? Whose responsibility is love?
How much love is enough?



Here is your assignment:

Answer the questions in this post– honestly. Be brutally honest about your attitudes toward celebrity. Not just Michael as a celebrity, but celebrities and celebrity itself.

Read what Michael Spies has to say about celebrity at
Watch the video.
Then for the next three days, walk through your day and your life as if your life is a celebration and you are a beloved “celebrity.”
Journal your feelings and experiences.
Then report back here.


  1. Dalia said . . .

    Today, “celebrity” has become synonymous with scandal and ridicule. That’s what comes to my mind when I hear that word because the tabloids and the tabloid media have been clucking accompanied by gossip. We have come to believe journalists themselves when they say: “That’s the price for being a celebrity.” It’s as if the public and private life is something that they have to showand exposure is “barter” for being celebrity. This is how they handle the celebrity reporters, and this idea has become a stereotype. After what happened with Michael Jackson and lady Diana, I’m more respectful and understand more to celebrities. They are people who have earned a place on their own merits and we should admire their work while understanding they are human beings with feelings and concerns just like each of us. They are entitled to make mistakes like all of us, and their private life is not our concern. As for the video, it’s a reminder of the importance of living our present and appreciate more each moment of our existence. Thanks Barbara for sharing this positive messages.

    Posted May 23, 2011 at 5:30 am | Permalink
  2. Robbie M said . . .

    Just today a footballer who plays for a top English club was named in the London Parliament under the guise of Parliamentary priviledge because he had tried to take out a court injunction to stop his name being puiblished in the tabloids. What was so important to the public interest that a politician felt he had to make a statement? The man in question had commited adultery. Since when was it in anyones interest to have such personal information put into the public domain? It grieves me to think that the people we charge with the running of government root around in the tabloid muck to expose someone, not for a criminal activity but a human failing. Has society lost all sense of decency? I wish I had an answer, but all I can do is pray for a better tomorrow and try my best to help bring it about. Thank you Rev. Barbara for your insight, it is much appreciated. Love and blessings from Scotland.

    Posted May 23, 2011 at 7:10 pm | Permalink
  3. Heidi said . . .

    To me, it’s fear and shadow that keep people focused on the latest celebrity fallout or for that matter, celebrity “reality.” Seriously, is there any particular world benefit to watching the behaviors of Snooky or the Kardashians? Far EASIER to make them the principle topic of discussion than to give real effort to healing and correcting ourselves. Far easier to keep our heads down as we play with the latest electronic gadget, rather than look up and see what’s going on in the world around us and maybe think about what we can do to fix it.

    Posted May 23, 2011 at 9:36 pm | Permalink
  4. Sue Springer said . . .

    Wow, Rev. B., this was very hard. I won’t share publicly here everything I learned from this exercise, but I do want to say that I have learned that celebrity, for me, is a celebration. I learned that I do not obsess over famous folks, and that I accept the gifts they give to us, respect their private lives and wish everyone did also, and that I don’t worry about why some people are given gifts of talent and performing and others of us are not. My sense of self is not determined by others, but by my own inherent God-given gifts (which will never make me famous — SMILE). I also learned that I rarely judge famous people believing they are humans with the same bundle of human fraility that afflicts us all. Because they are given gifts that allow them a wide audience does not mean they are unapproachable or different from all of us or super-human. What they believe of themselves is not for me to speculate on.

    I was pretty sure of all of this before I took on your assignment, but I also learned a few things that had not dawned on me prior to this exercise. I am drawn to people who are inherently aware of their gifts, who explore them, hone them, and never stop learning — whether that person is my best friend or the actor or singer on the stage. And when it comes to performers (actors, singers, dancers), I am drawn to those individuals who exude an innate understanding and love of their craft. That love of craft is such a gift to all of us. It enables us — not to live vicariously through them, but to aspire to the greatness of our own gifts — whatever they are or how humble they may seem. They remind me to strive for excellence and to never stop reaching. Remember that wonderful poem —- “If you can’t be a tree, be a bush, but the best little bush by the side of the stream . . .”

    Each of us can only succeed if we find that wonder and spark that lives within us. Thank you for this, Rev. B. Love and peace, sue.

    Posted May 24, 2011 at 3:34 am | Permalink
  5. Amanda said . . .

    “Celebrity” means “celebrated” and to be among that exclusive echelon of society who seemingly have it all, who are living the enchanted life. I believe that was being sold to the public with the advent of Hollywood in conjunction with the mass media after World War 2. In those earlier decades, celebrity was bestowed in smaller numbers than today. The creation of the celebrity cult was an ingenious marketing ploy for these industries and the celebrities back then were afforded more mystique and privacy. With the explosion of the tabloid industry, the tenor of celebrity coverage changed , to the detriment of the profession of celebrity, the entertainment industry and society. This whole trend has debased news as serious journalism. Media content that is derived from the private lives of celebrities or these so called reality TV shows are much cheaper to produce rather than articles or shows with genuine intellectual or artistic or journalistic content. It makes TV hardly worth watching anymore.

    As for major celebrities, I am trying to imagine what the experience must be like to be chased by paparazzi and not be able to go out without being followed. How confining must that not feel? Do these celebrities feel nervous about private personal details getting exposed and there being a bounty out there for the same? Do they feel compelled to take many measures to cover their tracks in a bid to safeguard sensitive information? How heavy is that pressure on them? Once they become famous, do they feel that these burdens are compensated by the privileges of being a famous individual? I am curious as to how that affects their ego, their psyche.

    I think that in the minds of younger people who are still naive or impressionable do not realize that celebrities have the same fears, insecurities, emotions, joys, drives as other people but behind the larger than life personas they are still just people. This whole celebrity emphasis can make society’s values lopsided. In a more utopic scenario, true heroes of society from all walks of life would be celebrated without putting anyone on a pedestal and society would be much more of a meritocracy. I don’t think that the public itself demanded to know every small detail of celebrity’s personal lives. This junk food got fed to us. I think it has reached a level where the public itself might be getting a bit tired of it. I wish the focus on celebrity would get replaced in society by the focus on the spiritual. That there is an inner divinity in all of us. That our job is to grow and develop that. That would feel like a much more nourishing diet.

    Posted May 24, 2011 at 9:52 pm | Permalink
  6. Amanda said . . .

    I just wanted to be sure to add that people who come to public attention by virtue of their professions, or contributions are all deserving of much more privacy. When a public figure is faced with scrutiny or scandal based on some personal data becoming public which is strictly their own personal business, that is unfair and exploitative. There should be laws or codes to prevent this sort of thing from hurting lives. The public should also show less commercial support for this type of exploitation. This sort of trend lends to tawdriness. But what happened to people like Michael Jackson and Princess Diana at the hands of the tabloid press was very tragic and shameful.

    Posted May 24, 2011 at 10:26 pm | Permalink
  7. Joyce said . . .

    Rev. Barbara,
    Very interesting and thought provoking questions pertaining to the whole concept of “celebrity”. I think that this age of 24/7 immediate news and constant “web chatter” has created an entirely new meaning to the term “celebrity.” A person is now considered famous and a celebrity for just being “infamous” with no particular talent or special gifts to “celebrate”. As long as they have a story that will feed the never ending gossip machine they will be considered a “celebrity” in the media. The lack of respect in our culture for any sense of privacy is a travesty. Unfortunately, some of these “faux celebrities” are very happy to have the paparazzi track their every move if it keeps them in the public eye, which just creates more hunger in the public for this constant gossip, which the tabloid media is more than eager to keep selling. It is a never ending vicious cycle that is dragging all of us as a society down.

    My Sunday newspaper had an article that went along perfectly with this post. It was titled “Appetite for gossip fuels 24/7 industry” It talks about the public’s seemingly bottomless appetite for “dirt” about anyone considered famous and also the industry that takes in billions annually feeding this monster! I think this quote from David Perel, managing editor of “Radar Online” sums up this vicious cycle that has been created. He says “Posting more than 30 exclusive items a day is common. We’re trying to build what they call addicts online.” There are certainly many “celebrities” in all different fields who deserve our admiration for the talents and gifts that they have been given and continuously strive to improve so they can share them with all of us. They also deserve our respect as human beings to be allowed to have a private life. When did we stray so far from this concept?

    Posted May 26, 2011 at 2:50 am | Permalink
  8. B. Kaufmann said . . .

    Any way you can get me a copy of that article, Joyce?

    Posted May 26, 2011 at 1:50 pm | Permalink
  9. Catharina Teuben said . . .

    We are often afraid and fear the things we see as our goals being afraid of reaching towards the best possible. In our heart we can feel that this cannot work really. We try to upgrade ourseves by devastating the other. Own your stage. Celebrities own their stage and we need not envy them. If we own our own stage, we can feel perfectly happy.

    Posted June 15, 2011 at 10:07 pm | Permalink

Post a Comment

Your email is never published nor shared. Required fields are marked *