Pasman: From paparazzi to snapchats: our obsessions with celebrity

We live during a time where there is an incessant need to document everything in our lives. Instagram, Snapchat, tabloids and other sources of media have created a culture of non-stop sharing. Public figures such as celebrities and athletes are no longer able to step away from the spotlight after their respective events or games; the cameras continue to flash. So why are we so intrigued by the day-to-day mundane activities that other people partake in?

Professional stalkers, also known as paparazzi, provide tabloids and other entertainment journalism outlets with photos of celebrities going about their lives, walking into a restaurant, leaving the airport and even following them to their homes. How could people make a living by simply following celebrities around all the time? The only reason paparazzi have jobs is because of the demands our society makes for entertainment news by purchasing tabloids and watching TMZ videos. It comes from our same attraction to mindlessly watching reality TV shows or newsfeeds. Maybe wanting to watch and fantasize about the lives of the upper echelon of society allows us to temporarily escape the boredom of our lives? For whatever reason, entertainment journalism has taken away the mystery that used to surround famous people.

Although people think celebrities love media attention, but many singers, actors and actresses, and athletes didn’t sign up to constantly live in the eyes of the public. Everyone’s watching them while they are performing, but celebrities deserve the right to privacy just like the rest of us. It’s clear that getting stalked doesn’t sit well with some of these folks; see Kanye West’s assault on a photographer in 2013.

On the other hand, it seems that some celebrities flip the script and actually use the paparazzi to their advantage. There have been reports that some fame-hungry stars call the paparazzi to inform them of their whereabouts in order to gain more attention. Reality TV stars, if I can even call them stars, already have the goal to become more famous just by being famous. This happens through media attention, whether it be self-directed personal promotion through Snapchatting pictures of their food, or pictures taken by paparazzis, which is ultimately driven by the same wants of the public. If people tune in, users get more views, encouraging them to consider expanding their online presence.

While it makes sense that people are drawn into the lives of famous people, knowing each and every detail about a person takes away the important element of mystery and distracts from what’s important. When you google a famous person, the headlines are nothing about what they’re currently working on professionally, but instead are often trivial snippets used to gain more views. Case in point: googling Leonardo DiCaprio results in stories titled “Leonardo DiCaprio Attends Mother’s Day Brunch in Malibu” and “Leonardo DiCaprio spotted chatting with a mystery woman.” It’s much more difficult to find interesting in-depth stories done by respectable news outlets such as Rolling Stone or Billboard, as opposed to the cheap headlines that you see from entertainment journalism companies such as TMZ.

Cultivating a revealing online persona allows people access to your life and enables them to form an impression of you that may or may not be just a facade.

Having a mysterious presence is much more interesting than showing all of your cards at once, leaving you with nothing left to reveal. This goes for social media as well. Cultivating a revealing online persona allows people access to your life and enables them to form an impression of you that may or may not be just a facade. Why should you even bother asking your friend what they did last weekend when they already shared every detail that happened online?

“Social media has become an all-too-comfortable mask that we wear to fool our peers. In some of my darkest moments of depression and self deprecation, I chose to post pictures of my ‘good times’ on Instagram and Facebook, rather than reach out to my friends and family,” comments sophomore English major Mark Rempel. Sometimes revealing less online leaves people wanting more, which creates more chances for genuine human connections.

While being more known for your artistry over anything else is hard to do nowadays, there are exceptions. The Weeknd, now one of the biggest pop stars in the world, rose to fame through a cult online following, not showing his face or doing any press interviews for the first few years of his career. He was so good at retaining the cloak of anonymity that “co-workers at American Apparel would listen to his music while he was working without realizing it was his,” according to a NY Times feature story. Daft Punk, the world-famous French electronic music duo, have stayed out of the spotlight, conducting few interviews and wearing their signature sci-fi futuristic helmets in public, maintaining an aura of mysteriousness. You have to dig a bit to even find a picture of the two’s real faces.

It’s time to leave trashy entertainment journalism behind and stop wasting our lives living vicariously through famous or successful people. The over-documentation of everything in our lives compromises the quality of them and leaves us starved for more despite the fact that we already know everything about people. If asking for the over documentation epidemic to stop is too extreme, people should at the very least have the choice to document what they choose, instead of having it dictated by others, as is the case for celebrities. We should all think a little more before we post on social media and consider the implications our online personas have on our actual lives and the way people perceive us.

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Toby Pasman

Toby Pasman