​Due to an interesting turn of events, I had to work on a job that involved reading  Entertainment news  for hours (no, I am not a journalist) . I was initially quite embarrassed. I mean, my team members worked on politics, business, national and other serious stuff and here I was reading things that hardly make any difference to the world. Whenever I told people that I am working on something that involves news, I saw admiration in their eyes. But the moment I said ‘entertainment’, they gave me THAT look…the same look that parents give you when you tell them about any career that is not ‘academic’ (like Sports is considered ‘wasting time’).  I was personally neutral about the task. I was neither thrilled nor did I hate it. I tried to find something interesting but couldn’t. But then I realised that I could change the way I see the task at hand. I am not interested in what a Bollywood actor had for his breakfast but I am interested in why people are interested in his breakfast. In other words, I want to know why my neighbour is obsessed with Shah Rukh Khan. Why are Salman Khan’s fans so loyal and forgiving? I wanted to understand ‘ordinary’ people through the celebrity culture. This way of approaching my work helped me to look at celebrity culture in a new way. 

I remember reading Elizabeth Gilbert’s “Eat Pray Love” where she explores the reason why people are more bothered about the actions of artists or sportspersons than real issues like poverty, policies etc. She says that the reason why people obsess about movie stars and sportspersons is not because they don’t care about real issues… it’s actually the opposite: They are overwhelmed by the pain and the injustice in the world and hence, they try to find perfection in movies or sports. Alain de Botton says that people are passionate about sports because it is black and white. There is a winner and a loser. There is no ‘in-between’…there is no complexity. The same principles apply to movies as well. Movie stars exist as ideas in people’s minds. People use these ‘heroes’ to stay sane. In a way, movies are an outlet for our collectively repressed emotions. Maybe this is the reason why people are more furious when a movie star makes a mistake…he/she is not supposed to remind us of our imperfect world. As a teen, I used to ‘hate’ the world for its obsession with ‘fake’ people. Now that I’m older, I am wondering if the most absurd celebrity news has some insight into the hopes and dreams of human beings…

P.S. If you want to look at celebrity culture through the eyes of a philosopher, do check Alain de Botton’s work :).

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