Monday, February 25, 2008

Why Isolation Needs Celebrities

After seeing the Oscars on TV, it is interesting to reflect on how this small group of people in the film industry have have become the obsession of an entire country.

It is natural to speak and think about the people that we know, but with the breakdown of community we no longer have a network of people who know each other. Even deep friendships these days are not communal; they are relationships in isolation. Therefore we have no one to speak of when we talk to one another.

As a replacement we are given these public personalities of the “stars” to satisfy this basic human need for community. We enrich them and then harass them in order to be able to watch their vapid lives. We imagine closeness with them because we have seen them act out intense scenes on film.

While listening to people incessantly discussing the tumultuous romances of movie stars is pitiful, what is even more sad is the reason people are obsessed with them. We talk about them because we are so very lonely. We were told that isolation is part of being an adult. While it may be childish that grown people hang on every affair of the stars, the desire for a community for connection for a people our own is real and meaningful.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I think this is a very insightful analysis of what is going on in our society. In fact, it led me to some further thoughts along the same lines. If stars, athletes and other celebrities take the place of friends and neighbors in our lives, then similarly, TV shows and movies take the place of the community narrative. I have been surprised in recent years to hear people, especially young people, discuss movies at length. I hear it happen at work, around a table of women in church, even around my own dinner table. It's as if we have no stories of our own to tell, no sense of our own history (as families, communities, even as a nation, I fear).
Of course it was probably always true that a lot of the shared stories were fiction, but when people had to read to know those stories, there was at least that virtue in sharing them. The reading stretched the mind, whereas it can be argued that watching stories in which we don't participate simply shrinks our minds. And lest I sound too critical, I am concerned about my own television consumption as well as that of our nation.
But the one thought that comforts me in all this is that God's people are still the people of His book and that the characters and the stories and the principles that we read and from which we get our understanding of the world will be shaped by God's word as long as we are seriously engaged in the study of scripture. What is disappointing is that we are not willing or able to discuss those characters or stories or ideas with nearly the passion that people around us devote to the people and the stories that absorb them.
~~ anna marie