April 15th, 2014
The cult of celebrity

I recently said no to a contest featuring my books in a popular teen mag. The prize was some postcards of mine that were completed by celebrities. I turned it down because I feel that our society has an unhealthy obsession with celebrity culture, and a need to glorify superficial qualities in people (mainly appearance) and make them into role models. This is a terrible message to send to teenagers, who are often in a difficult and challenging place emotionally, and feeling physically and socially insecure at the best of times. I was at that age. I’d like to start a movement where kids are able to see the cult of celebrity for what it is. The selling of fantasy, with a focus on “selling”, and a fixation on the superficial.

This week I read an interesting article that helped me to relax my “anti-celebrity” stance somewhat, (I believe the author is Alain de Botton, who founded the school). The School of Life posted “Why We Need Better Celebrities”, which talked about how humans have always had an inherent need for role models,

“Rather than try to suppress our love of celebrity, we ought to channel it in optimally intelligent and fruitful directions. A properly organised society would be one where the best-known people (the ones whose parties and holiday photos and clothes and new hairstyles we looked at most often) were those who embodied and reinforced the highest, noblest and most socially beneficial values.”

Aahhh, yes. Let’s start a new celebrity movement, one that seeks out people who kick ass in many different ways (who don’t just have a cool haircut, but also intellect and vision.)

Let’s also celebrate our own unique thoughts, perspectives and gifts! Let’s focus on genuine qualities in people, kindness, compassion, fortitude, determination, creativity, persistence, vulnerability, etc. Doesn’t that sound better?

For a good example of promoting solid role models, (and a genuine voice) I highly recommend Rookie Mag, they have been doing this very well for a few years now! (I so wish I had this mag when I was a teen.)

(Maybe I should revisit the contest idea, with a new approach. Hmmmnn. The way to influence culture in a healthy way is to ask for the changes you wish to see.)

Apr 15 2014
10:31 am
Let writes:

You mentioned Rookie & School of life in one post! This is just so awesome <3

Apr 15 2014
1:49 pm
Rhiannon writes:

Excellent – you have morals and values and you maintain them. thanks

Apr 15 2014
5:01 pm
andrea writes:

yes. yes, I say.

Apr 15 2014
10:38 pm
Anne Libby writes:

Last week, two Staten Island sanitation workers evacuated families from burning homes, and then went back to their collection duties. I’d like to see their postcards!

Apr 16 2014
1:28 pm
Kim writes:

I think you had it right the first time: we need to break from celebrity culture and stop looking to them as if they’re role models. Obviously it’s great when we have actors, sports players, etc. who try to be decent human beings but as Anne Libby pointed out, there are so many unsung heroes who are more deserving of our attention than the ones who are lauded for superficial reasons (Did they take care of those who are in hospice or find a cure for known diseases or use their influence to combat climate change? Probably not). We don’t need “better celebrities,” we better critical thinking skills. We also need to remember that NONE of us should ever be put on a pedestal (since we’re all human) but instead appreciate kindness and ethics in others and use different actions as an example of how to make the world a better place.

Apr 19 2014
2:19 pm
Tomek writes:

“to be your own celebrity” is a contradiction in terms. You can’t be a celebrity for yourself because 1) to be celebrity you need a bunch of fans that will admire you and you as yourself is not enough (unless you have split personality) and 2) it is selfish.
The whole idea of celebrity is based on false assumptions that other people can be superior to you because of some unmeasurable achievement. I like the idea that ‘what one man can do, You can do it too’.

Apr 26 2014
8:46 pm
Iara writes:

Me interesó mucho Werck this journals, así que busqué más información sobre su autora (osea tu) y comencé a leer tus notas.
Sinceramente creo que no existe nada mejor que lo que expresaste en este texto. Realmente tienes mi apoyo, soy adolescente y sinceramente ver a las celebridades tratando de mostrar su imagen perfecta hace que odie más de mi de lo que he imaginado.

Apr 26 2014
8:47 pm
Iara writes:

Wreck*, lo siento mi inglés no es bueno.

Jun 1 2014
2:12 am
Marie McNeil writes:

I really like what you are encouraging Kerri! I’m an art teacher who works hard to model creativity and high standards for the kids I have the opportunity to work with. It will be good to be able to recommend your website to them. I have some of your books and use in my classes, the kids love them and they have learnt much from the ideas you present!
keep up the good work!

Jun 13 2014
6:06 pm
Barbara Gould writes:

I remember when the magazine People first came out. You read about physicians doing amazing research ,humanitarians doing valuable work. Gone, all gone in response to a thirst for mainly movie heroes and heroines. Do the magazines create this need or do they satisfy it???

Jul 5 2014
11:19 pm
Lori Sanders writes:

Thumbs up to you!

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