Celebrity icon phenomenon, imitation out of control

By SpencerRoush

Viewers receive an unrealistic snapshot of the world growing up with TV shows dedicated to the lives of reality show stars and entertainment news that flashes pictures of the latest celebrity trends.

Instead of producing entertaining TV using controversial figures or famous people as ratings boosters, producers are creating celebrity icons. These are icons people can follow, cyber stalk using invasive networking sites or, even worse, imitate.

Some say imitation is the highest form of flattery. However, most people don’t imitate heroic characters like Amelia Earhart; they try to act like Lady Gaga and Lindsay Lohan.

Complete dedication to any famous entity is unhealthy, even to a wholesome cartoon character or a philanthropist like Oprah Winfrey.

Oprah is the epitome of a celebrity icon. She appeals to both genders and all races. Her show and influence reach millions.

She can make or break a writer using her famous book list. When Oprah places a book on the must-read list, sales soar and the author is an instant success.

She also has influence over more important subjects, such as politics.

According to a study conducted by the Department of Economics at the University of Maryland, Oprah was responsible for one million additional votes for President Barack Obama in the 2008 Democratic presidential primaries.

But how will Oprah’s viewers decide who should run for president when her show goes off the air in September 2011? It must be much easier to let someone else make the “big decisions.”

According to Helium.com, as of press time, 71 percent of respondents to a poll said celebrities have a negative effect on society. Of the 1,266 people who voted that celebrities have a positive effect, many said it was due to their philanthropic work or that they don’t ask for all of the attention.

How does a person sign with a record label or star in the next big film and not expect to gain the attention of millions?

A celebrity saying they don’t ask for attention is just a line they can use when they are caught smoking marijuana out of a hollowed-out apple or when they wear a skirt, forget underwear, then flash the paparazzi.

In order to keep up with the celebrity craze and compete with “E! News,” many 5 o’clock news programs dedicate a minute or two to celebrity updates when other, more newsworthy subjects should have had the time slot.

However, I can recall a few instances when featuring a celebrity in the news has had a positive effect.

Rihanna had an in-depth interview during “Good Morning America” when she said she felt responsible for all of the young girls who follow her. Re-entering an abusive relationship would have been detrimental to her and her fans. Rihanna said she received letters from fans who helped her make the decision to leave her ex-boyfriend, Chris Brown.

With so much time, energy and money dedicated to celebrities who are placed on an unrealistically high pedestal, people, especially young adults, can lose sight of their own social, political and even religious convictions.

It’s pathetic that people would rather align themselves with celebrities’ views than do their own research to form a real, unique opinion.

Celebrity icons influence news coverage and public opinion. It’s time to realize that news time shouldn’t be dedicated to yet another confession of Tiger Woods’ alleged mistresses or what new inappropriate mess Amy Winehouse got herself into.

Who wants to intentionally vote and act like someone else anyway? Now is a time of self-reflection and understanding, instead of imitating the next big celebrity.

Instead of sitting in front of the TV consuming opinions of hosts from “The View,” Oprah, or Snooki from “Jersey Shore,” watch the History or Discovery Channel and learn something new.