"Be patient toward all that is unsolved in your heart and try to love the questions themselves." --Rainer Maria Rilke (©julenisse/Fotolia)

Monday, July 25, 2011

Celebrity Addiction as a Spectator Sport

Addiction has become a spectator sport. I’m not a big fan of that.

Our culture’s fascination, make that obsession, with celebrity and notoriety has, perhaps, become an addiction as well, and we want more, more, more.

More gossip, more dirt, more photos. As our tech capabilities expand, so do our appetites. Our society’s collective and compulsive hunger requires cannibalistic feeding on the bloody mess our so-called idols and stars have made of their lives.

We want this so badly that we turn murder supects into overnight celebrities, devoting hours and days and months of coverage to them--especially if they are young, attractive, white women who are charged with killing their children. We want this so badly that we lap up derogatory and a disrespectful monikers like "Octomom."

For some of us, in fact for many of us, journalism was once a noble profession. Right now (thank you so very much News Corp), journalists are in the news, breaking laws in order to break a story. Lurking, snooping, following and general sneakiness have become the order of the day. We put celebrities on pedestals and somehow expect them to stay there as, paradoxically, we wait like vultures for the day of their demise.

Mel is drunk and bigoted. Lindsay is in and out of rehab and jail. She may or may not be a klepto. Charlie is likely an addict, more than likely since he denies it.

Even though these folks and so many others are attractive and talented, should their foibles really be a source of amusement for us? Should we be ready to pounce on every little scandalous morsel? Do we need to get a life and let them live theirs?

If you believe in the disease theory of addiction and I, for one, do, then you recognize that addicts are sick. Even knowing this I have, more than once, allowed myself to be entertained by the times they’ve made public spectacles of themselves. Why did Lindsay wear that short little white dress to court? Did Elin really chase Tiger with a golf club? Will someone please give Nicole Richie a sandwich?

Shame on me. I can’t say I’ve been thoroughly entertained by what I’ve seen on TMZ or in US Weekly, but I admit I’ve been sucked in.

Regarding Amy: How many times in the last 48 hours has someone said, “It was only a matter of time.” And still, we can’t believe it. She clearly was on an extremely self-destructive path. Talented, beautiful, brilliant and SICK. Who really knows why? It defies explanation. That is why addiction is known as a “cunning, baffling and powerful disease.” It is progressive in nature and catches us off guard. It doesn't care if you are smart or wealthy or famous. It is a thief, stealing wives from husbands, fathers from children, professionals from careers, robbing its victims of every last shred of dignity.

Maybe we expected Amy to die. Someday. Not Saturday. The illness had her in its grips and she needed more and more and more to feed the beast. We wanted more of her as well. More of that voice, more of those songs, more performances, more Amy. She couldn’t give us any more, because the disease had taken it all. Her addiction to drugs and our addiction to celebrity finally swallowed her alive.

She didn’t live in peace. She didn’t die in peace. Can we let Amy rest in peace?


  1. This is right on the money. Well-written and honest. I can't help but think that we do anything in the States to distract ourselves from thinking seriously about more pressing issues like politics and global poverty. Do you imagine that the obsession with celebrities and celebrities' addiction problems cuts across socio-economic, racial, gender, religious...etc. lines in the U.S.? To me, it seems to be a question of what types of issues people choose to think about in their 'spare' time: money, philosophy, the debt ceiling, Dancing with the Stars...etc.

  2. Anonymous5:23 AM

    you are 110% right. We live in the spectator age. We are so installed in front of gossip websites, television shows, movies, novels, or even True Hollywood Stories (lets throw in the entire E! entertainment channel) that we dont even realize it. When do we realize when we try to stay away from those cunning institutions and fail. Do you know how many times i tried to quit documentaries, moves, tv shows. Maybe this is slightly of the topic but its more or less the same thing. Both celebrity watch addiction or following lives of fictional character are pretty much the same thing. My point is one of our greatest skills in comparison to animals is to be able to watch. only humans as animals take pleasure in watching as an activity. Yet so many times in turns on us and enslaves us. I used to wake up with a ______ gossip website. Now that bad habit is taken over by watching tv shows. I beginning to think that if this is not a conspiracy theory then governments are seeing our spectator addictions as something MORE THAN handy, cause while we are busy living other people's lives, politicians and other "normal" people are reaching their goals. I'm 23 now, i dunno when i turned 23. last time i checked i was 20. thats cause for the past 3 years not a day has passed without me watching a least one show.


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