The Lives of Celebrities As Conversational Footballs

I suppose I never thought about it till I saw Notting Hill. I never really thought twice about the feelings of celebrities. They were conversational footballs to be kicked around and thrown and caught.

I never thought about the fact they were people. Real people with hearts that break. Heads that swim in the confusion of life’s difficulties. Lives that deal with pain, sickness and death. They have parents, who they love and are grieved when their children are mocked for the world’s insecurity. Sisters in the shadows. Brothers serving overseas. I never thought about how they must look in the mirror and see themselves as less beautiful than we do, wishing we would like them for who they are and not the parts they play. And ironically, wanting to be liked because of what they do, because it is what they must do.

I never thought about how they must feel, knowing we talk about their marriages and divorces with less than the gravity and care we show towards the parts they play on the screen. I never thought that the laughs we effuse at their expense were callous and unkind. It was as if such concerns were off limits. When was the last time a parent said, “You should not talk about her that way” and they were talking about someone who is famous.

The most common thing coming out of my mouth while reading or watching a news story on the newest escapades of the jet set stars and starlets is, “What an idiot.” And while this makes me feel better, something tells me it isn’t what should be coming out of my mouth. Or my heart, for that matter.

Why do we feel that we should be pursuing our enemies with love and yet ridiculing the famous? Why is it  we can feel so bad for so many sins and not really be all that bothered by the way we talk about celebrities? Maybe we think they have such a wealthy deposit of money and attention, our debt of kindness is not worth mentioning. Maybe we think their sinful behavior deserves the jabs, gossip and laughter heaped on them? Maybe we think, “That’s what you get for being famous!”And perhaps we really think we are better than they are.

I wonder if our image-driven celebrity culture has made it all but impossible to see celebrities as those who are made in the image of God. The bright lights blind us to this reality.

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