I just watched a speech by Jack Gleeson (video below), an Irish actor, best know for playing Joffery Bartheon in the HBO television series Game of Thrones, speaking at the Oxford Union (most prestigious debating society, established for 190 years, aiming to promote debate and discussion in Oxford University)
Jack mentioned several interesting ideas that i would like to talk about and weigh in.
To start with Jamie Tehrani from Durham university theory: Evolutionary psychology behind fascination with celebrities
Imitating success:The theory centers around the Anthropological notion of Prestige (high social status – admiration or respect)
This prestige is bestowed upon individuals who possess certain adaptive skills like “superior hunting technique”
This prestige is bestowed upon the individuals so that the community can learn from them through imitation.
My opinion: I think in this case, the prestige is not bestowed but earned, it might be true that the others will imitate and will respect this individual, but it’s not due to a prestige by itself but by the survival instinct and the hope of having a better life.
The side effects of imitating success:
The successful hunter might have a ritual, and the people who want to imitate him adapt a ritual as well as the hunting technique.
According to Tehrani theory we have a evolutionary and psychological instinct to imitate celebrities, thus the celebrities have became a social role model, normal people are interested in knowing what they wear, what car they drive, how they live etc…(see: celebrity brand association – marketing wise).
Celebrity worship syndrome: complete dissolution of the self in favor of another: form of religious hysteria.
Celebrities teachers of society ?
Have celebrities became the teachers of society? can we influence the masses through celebrities?
Will we start imitating the town drunk, who posses prestige due to an original fame which faded away a long time ago?
During the last few decades, this celebrity or prestige is granted on the basis of a none adaptive skills – or no skills for that matter, the actor, singer, reality TV star … the majority of these people have nothing of value to offer to the masses.
Max vabor theory of charisma, Celebrities have a charisma that is accepted by us as a willing domination (not challenged like the police authority etc …), that’s why politicians often require celebrity endorsement or celebrity status to feel legitimated in the eyes of the public (called gentle charisma).
Chris Rojek a professor in sociology says: “Celebrities are informal life coaches. By watching them, people learn how to groom, learn how to wear their hair, learn what to say, learn what opinions are sexy, learn what’s right-on and not right-on. They’re assimilating all sorts of life-skills,”
And thus the logic of: Influencers outreach in advertising.
Can celebrities be used to guide society/ manipulate society ?From what we have just learned, a couple very important question are raised:
Can celebrities be used to guide society?
by ensuring that everything covered by the media and published by them is according to a best behavior or certain global good agenda for the country & humanity?
Can celebrities be used to manipulate society?
Guiding society is surely not happening, all the screw ups the celebrities are doing is definitely not guidance material, if there’s something they are spreading it’s misguidance: several divorces, frequent flashing of private body parts, singing almost naked … Unless you want to believe this is all a part of a corruption plan some secret organization have for humanity! But in authoritarian countries, the celebrity could be and are used to manipulate societies!