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Kings Mountain, North Carolina, United States
"A mind lively and at ease" is a blog by a first-generation Russian-Ukrainian immigrant Maria K. (Maria Igorevna Kuroshchepova). An engineer by education, an analyst by trade, as well as a writer, photographer, artist and amateur model, Maria brings her talent for weaving an engaging narrative to stories of life, fashion and style advice, book and movie reviews, and common-sense and to-the-point essays on politics and economy.

Sunday, May 9, 2010

Celebrity culture and what we do about it

I do not think all celebrities are spoiled, irresponsible and completely out of touch with reality and with the sense of right and wrong. I do not think that when someone becomes a celebrity, there is an inevitable scandal in his or her future. In fact, there are celebrities who very much inspired me to become more involved in a variety of causes. With that said, I am afraid that in my determination to focus on the positive, I am more of an exception than a rule.

I am not certain why that is, but so many people tend to focus more on the negative. This includes all aspects of life: the economy, world affairs, personal life and - yes - life of celebrities. What makes the front pages of supermarket tabloids and the major headlines of prominent news web sites? Scandals... Marital discourse... Deception... Drugs... Botched plastic surgeries... Weight gains and losses... Considering that these topics constitute the majority of celebrity news, how can anything celebrity-related have a positive impact?

Even positive celebrity news are given a tinge of negativity against that backdrop. Instead of, for instance, admiring Angelina Jolie and Brad Pitt for adopting another child, someone sneers, "Oh, sure, with their money..." Yes, they have money. And yes, it does make it easier for them to go through the adoption process and to provide their biological and adopted children with everything necessary and more. So, why not be glad about it? Someone can at least spare one or two kids the fate that would have otherwise awaited them growing up somewhere in the midst of third world, had they been left there.

Instead of following every twist and turn of every celebrity break up, make up and another break up, why not focus on those who have been together for decades and are still going strong? Sure, it is not as exciting, but maybe it is better for one's psyche. Instead of going up in arms about another celebrity drug scandal, why not turn around and admire those, who managed to avoid drug and alcohol problems despite having the means and the access, or those, who struggled with these problems in the past but managed to overcome them and stay clean?

Celebrities, in my opinion, do have a certain responsibility to the society. They are always upfront, they are always in the spotlight, they are always followed by the public eye. Many people draw inspiration from their successes on screen, on stage or in the world of sports. "With privilege comes specific obligation," and when one becomes a celebrity he or she needs to keep that in mind, because when a celebrity does something stupid, it resonates through many a circle. However, the fact that modern celebrity culture is impacting so many people in a negative way can only partly be blamed on celebrities themselves. I believe that responsibility for most of that negative impact lies with the audience.

Just as celebrities are under greater pressure to behave, we, as their audience, should take upon ourselves the ownership of our information choices. What to read, what to watch, what to focus on and what to ignore is our responsibility - not that of the celebrities, whose lives we choose to follow. Choosing our idols and whether or not to follow their example is our business, and not anyone else's. Decision to react to positive celebrity news with a "yes, but..." and finding something negative in it is our decision and ours alone. Until we take responsibility for picking and choosing our role models wisely and reacting to the never-ending flood of information reasonably and sensibly, celebrity impact will continue drifting into the negative territory.

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