Celebrity. What is our fascination with the lives of strangers? I can see being interested in the lives of those who know and care about. And in the lives of great leaders and even serial killers. Wanting to know where they came from and why and how they wound up where they did. But it's amazing to me that a magazine that claims to have never before seen photos of Brad Pitt's family will fly off the shelves so people can gawk at this family they don't know, have probably never met, and in some cases may not even like the movies they've made. Don't tell me it's all about the looks either. Have you ever seen a picture of Brad Pitt's face close up recently? Of course you have. He's aging ladies. His face is beginning to wrinkle up and sag down in all the wrong places. Huh. So he's not a god. He is mortal after all. But that's not what the media would have you believe. Forget their acting abilities, forget what they do for the environment, or kids in third world countries, Brad and Angelina are the celebs that celebs get starstruck around. The boss of bosses. The most watched human being on the planet. And yet, they ARE still human. They wake up with bad breath. They itch, scratch, pee, poo, pick their noses and clip their toenails like everyone else. So what is it then?
My wife and I went to the Toronto International FIlm Fest last year and if you know anything about TIFF, you know it's as much about the celebs that flood the city as it is about the films that are shown. At every premiere, every swanky hotel, or 'celeb siting hot spot' were sometimes hundreds of fans waiting eagerly for hours for just a glimpse of a movie star. Hours. In the time it took people waiting all day for George Clooney to show up at one of his premieres, the people waiting could have seen like three movies showing at the festival somewhere. But who goes to TIFF to see movies? I DO. So did we wait around for a glimpse of the Cloon? Did we stand at the side of a stage for a couple hours cause we heard that's where Drew Barrymore and the cast of Whip It where going to be getting out of their cars? Did we go to the premiere of The Road, without tickets to the movie, to see Aragon himself make his way down the red carpet? Or get excited when we saw Michael Moore or Ricky Gervais on the sidewalks of Toronto? I'd like to say no to all of the above, but the truth is yes. We did all that. Because celebrity is odd and undefinable. And as much as I scoff at people who buy celebrity mags, or watch Entertainment Tonight or turn the radio up in the car when there's a news bulletin on a celeb being naughty, I will wait for hours for a chance to meet Clooney. And I will feel a little excitement when Ricky Gervais goes strolling by on the street in front of me. I will do these things because the media says that celebs are people to revere. You're not suppose to think about Brad Pitt taking a dump because that doesn't sell People magazines.
Okay so what if it is all about the work? What if the reason we get giddy around the famous is because we appreciate the art and entertainment they've given to the world? Well if that's the case then we should be getting giddy every time we visit the emergency room. We should feel excitement, not panic, when we notice a police cruiser in our rearview. And running up to paramedics in the street asking for an autograph and letting them know we loved them in that one on the news when they saved that boy who hit his head on the sidewalk and probably saved his life.
These are the people who make a difference in the world. These are people who should get paid millions for what they do. The people its worth having a magazine for. Then again, that paramedic didn't marry the top grossing box office draw of last year. And that surgeon won't have hundreds of people waiting for a chance to meet him and cheer him on at the next bypass he does. Or maps passed out highlighting the homes of the firefighters and police officers who risk their lives to keep people they've never met safe and sound. What celebrity has ever done something like that for society? Oh wait, silly me. Tobey Maguire saved thousands of lives in Spiderman's 1 to 3. And George Clooney did dispel of evil in Batman and Robin, and who could forget Mr. Pitt himself helping to murder Hitler and putting a stop to WWII in Inglourious Basterds?
Yeah. That counts.