The notion of celebrity is one of the great puzzles of modern living. Showing interest in the details of someone’s life because they display incredible talent, or are fortunate to achieve something special, is understandable - to a certain extent - but we pursue our curiosity beyond all measure of common sense. We have, literally, people within our culture who have accomplished very little and became famous simply for being made famous.

Turn on the television, open a newspaper, listen to the radio, and you are faced with entire programs detailing the twists and turns, quirks and calamities, of celebrity lives. Why are we so enthralled? Some of these people wallow in our attention while others hide from it, but it doesn’t appear to matter. We simply must know what is happening in their world.

I understand “greatness” but even then it’s vague. We have exceptional artists and athletes who astound us with their abilities - and leaders whether political or cultural who impact our lives, so how they think and react to various situations can be of interest. But many of our celebrities are simply family members of another celebrity, or people who have amassed great wealth as a by-product of some obsession or single minded drive. Then comes the beautiful, female or male, who we must follow to see if they are living the beautiful life. Undoubtedly they have a story worth telling but, then, who doesn't. Every one of us lives a unique life. As Andy Warhol suggested we are all worth 15 minutes of fame. Perhaps that explains why we have celebrity failures as well - people who are famous for not winning anything or for falling short of their goals.



Similar or, perhaps, in tune with this obsession, is the concept of being an extreme "fan". Why do we root for a particular team? We seldom can relate to, or identify with, any of the players. They are so far removed from most of us they are more like fantasy individuals. We are spoon fed the hype by those who sell the sport or it's products and, again, we manage to create a connection where none really exists. And the connection becomes so strong we mob them in public, reaching out to touch them when they go by as if the mere touch will create a transfer of greatness, and - when given the rare opportunity to ask celebrities a question - we ask about subjects which bear no relation to their sport or training - as if they have special insights into all aspects of life. It is simply strange, but it's so widespread as to be universal. Where do we get this need for uber people? What is this thing deep within us that requires us to manufacture god-like individuals and designate them as cultural and political leaders?

We seem to put people on a pedestal who have the ability to create any kind of emotional response within us. This is what artists do and some are amazingly good at it. Whether we laugh or cry or become angry or excited, the response is the issue and we heap praise and concern on those capable of inciting that response. It’s like they become part of us by practicing their art so well. Entertainers of all kinds have this capability and we wish them success – unless they prove to be too fallible - or worse yet, bland. Then we become disappointed and angry. Eventually all of them turn out to be human and fallible because everyone is - except by then we are hooked and it doesn't matter.



Real heroes do exist and are worth our support. I have heroes - people I greatly admire for their achievements. Few of them, I must say, are actors or athletes, and even fewer are politicians. In the case of actors their persona is so intertwined with their major roles it's difficult to delineate between them, perhaps even for them. My heroes are people who achieve more than was expected because of their persistence and desire to reach a goal, usually a goal to help other people. Rosa Parks and Terry Fox, to name two famous examples. As for the ones in the tabloids, it's still a puzzle.