Celebrity and Fictional Influence: Media Induced Identity Issues
Someone inquired about celebrity/fictional influence the other day and I've been pondering it a lot since then. I know I'm touching on an old topic, but here's my food for thought.
As many people have also expressed similar feelings during converstion, I feel like much of today's society takes influence a bit too far in regards to looking up to famous people and fictional entities, especially those who are popular and not even really that great as individuals (to me at least, since everyone measures differently.) Some people or characters are proactive and positively influential towards society, others aren't and they're quite the opposite. Once again, this depends on your taste as an individual. We're bombarded with media coverage of the latest celebrity shenanigans and newest fictional characters. There's no question about it, and it's nothing new to be fixated on it. We learn things, good or bad, from watching movies and television, listening to music, playing video games and keeping up with celebrity news and opinions. We love entertainment, but has it gotten to the point of being so influential that we have a hard time defining ourselves, rather than simply being entertained? How far is too far when it comes to creating our own meaning for existence out of the things we use to escape into?
We're in a time where media is constantly available. We have it in our hands everywhere we go, staring at phones and tablets. Along with useful information we wouldn't have if it weren't for media, such as world news and deeper aspects of politics, I'm also noticing the rate of identity issues increase as we bind ourselves into fictional realities and celebrity news feeds. In some ways it's positive because people are learning how to speak up for themselves, changes are happening within communities that bring everyone together, and we are seeing new types of creativity born as technology grows. In other aspects I have seen the birth of dramatized identity explanations that can initiate more radical social trends rather than helping people define their natural truths and grow deep within themselves. I could indeed argue that this is part of the journey of finding and exploring yourself. I will go as far as to point out that some people may think they're being influenced to "be themselves" but are ultimately just mimicking actions and repeating styles they may not even portray if it weren't for popular influence. I still believe people would have a lot less identity issues if there weren't so many advertisements and ploys to entice society into following and being interested in what's popular or recommended to be worth-while.
Remind you all, I am basically cinema obsessed. I most definitely love movies and analyzing films down to the cells within the marrow. A lot of my photographic work is strongly influenced by my appreciation for cinema and dark fiction with similar techniques used by my favorite photographers. I have particular fictional / celebrity influences, especially from childhood, that I connect to and it's amazing to see how my outlook on these influences has evolved and "matured" over the years. I think that can be said for almost everyone, because that's the beauty that celebrity and fictional influence can have, especially when we may not have anyone else or lack what we need as individuals growing up. Such as the outlet that can get us through life and keep us from harming ourselves or others. Sometimes these outside influences are more positive than the ones we live among. We all want connection in some way, so when we hear or see someone with similar opinions or interests it helps us validate ourselves and we feel less alone, as if we are on the right path. There is nothing wrong with relating to our outside interests unless it creates harm for ourselves or others. Celebrity or fictional influence can be productive or counterproductive depending on how well you separate yourself, or maybe even simply how well you already know yourself. I typically see one or the other: Being influenced and appreciating the like-mindedness while picking up lessons and techniques that you incorporate in your own way, or getting completely obsessed and expounding yourself in reflection of your favorite characters or people. I'm thinking on a psychological level though and not just how we see ourselves in a mirror physically. Going into how this can deeply influence how we treat one another, or how we can adapt specific social expectations. We can get so depressed because we fantasize about having our perfect reality and it can spiral downward the more we don't have that. Sometimes depression can lead to such behaviors in the end as a form of escapism which can be fun but in some cases leads to long-term lack of dissecting our deepest issues and overcoming them and blossoming into our true selves. In more extreme situations individuals begin to collect material or personas to create their perfect world and then become distant and aggressive anytime a storm (reality you could say) comes in and changes something. We typically go through great submersions like this as children. Influence on imagination is crucial and the best part about being a kid and even as an adult. Whether it be to feed our imaginations for simple fun or as a form of escapism from something unsettling or terminally traumatic, sometimes both. We eventually evolve into a more diverse lifestyle and sometimes do not focus as heavily on our fictional worlds as adults because life happens. For some, not all…It depends on whether you're working for Pixar or not. Even then, we still have to feed ourselves and get to work on time. Sometimes I still have a hard time choosing between commuting in the Jeep or riding the glass elevator. *hahaha*
What I love about fiction and any art form (film is a huge one for me personally) is that they can portray crucial messages and views about society and psychology that may otherwise never be presented to so many people. Sort of "a ticket to insight" I will call it. Celebrities also have the popularity to easily lead because people are paying attention to them. We can take a look and apply the protagonist attitude and heroic influence to the life we live and how we impact those around us or perceive reality. Not that I support it, but even an antagonist approach and negative influence on life. The trick is having the conscience to recognize the cues and do our own self research to help ourselves grow consciously. There are a few celebrity/fictional figures I look up to or that I can relate to but a majority of my own favorite influences are right here in my town of residence, because I can witness and be involved with good they are putting out into the world. For me, in regards to famous figures, it all comes from a great respect and admiration of the core craft and what their underlying messages are. That's what I look for in anyone generally, whether they're on a magazine cover or not. I like to see people helping people grow and better our communities and having positive interactions.
I love discovering new fictional influences and supporting famous figures who don't waste all of their wealth and fame for power, praise, or material. Especially those who give and inspire out of pure kindness and not just as a publicity act. We need more good things to look up to that influence personal and community consciousness! A shift is happening, and people are awakening in a lot of aspects but I still see a lot of escapism. I'm definitely not separate from any of it because we all do it and there's nothing really wrong with it, but the big question that it makes me ponder is "Why do we need it so badly?" Why do people care so much about celebrities and what they're doing? At what point do our fictional influences hold us back from personal maturity? Does it increase self-esteem, or are we creating pseudo-self-esteem? Are we obsessed because it feeds our imaginations and we strive to get more and more creative to push boundaries? Or is there a huge underlying problem that makes us so uncomfortable in our everyday lives that we have to pretend just to make it through the day? Can we say both?