Celebrity, as defined in Wikipedia, is “a condition of fame and broad public recognition of a person or group as a result of the attention given to them by mass media.” Let me stop here and ask why mass media uses these people in this way? Is it to sell their publications or in the case of social media to use them in the form of click-bait ads?
The definition further states that “an individual may attain a celebrity status from having great wealth, their participation in sports or the entertainment industry, their position as a political figure, or even from their connection to another celebrity.”
Undoubtedly, many of these so-called celebrities have used their own publicist, agents and public relations people to push their brand and to make themselves popular among the gullible.
The media often refers to “celebrities” as high-profile people. Does that imply that the rest of us are low profile, no accounts?
As a society, we have somehow become accustomed to treating “celebrities”, “leaders’ and the rich with a large amount of deference. So much so that these people often get off scot-free when they run afoul of laws that would put us no accounts in prison.
Another observation regarding these privileged people, especially politicians, is their conspicuous use of entourages. What is the purpose of all these folks who are seen following a few steps behind a “leader” as if in a parade? Perhaps some of them are body guards. But who are all the others that make up this retinue? Are they just hangers-on or groupies? Some, it seems, are paid staff. But who needs all this staff to do things for the “leader” that they appear perfectly capable to do for themselves? One gets the impression that the entourage is for show and serves as some kind of status symbol.
The bizarre adulation that people heap on celebs takes many forms, most notably in the purchase of celeb specific merchandise like shirts with their name on them or products and services that they are paid to endorse even though they may not personally use said product or service.
The sale of celeb merchandise is most prevalent in the sports entertainment business, where much of the hype comes from “color” broadcasters talking up the personality and performance of players. Some people I’ve talked with derive a great deal of pleasure by following the trials and tribulations of one player or another. But why would one care so much about a player? This care is all one way. The player doesn’t know or care about the follower. Perhaps it’s the escape factor that makes fandom popular and enjoyable for many?
Admittedly, this is not the case when observing an event where you are related to or personally know a player or performer.
That brings the discussion to the second part of this essay; the bizarre behavior of sycophants and hangers-on.
Sadly, we have seen sycophancy played out on a grand scale during the term of our 45th President and continuing since his departure.
What is amazing is that this behavior was and is perpetrated by seemingly intelligent and educated people who, you would think, know what sycophancy is, yet they do it anyway. These folks probably would say that what we see as sycophancy is their expression of loyalty. But regardless, are the potential rewards and fears that great that these people would sacrifice their integrity?
Hangers-on or groupies is a form of sycophancy usually associated with bands and musical performers. These are people who worm their way backstage to ingratiate themselves with the performers, often by being an unpaid gofer, then follow them around from one venue to another. Presumably, they do this in return for attending the performance without buying a ticket. But that’s not all together clear.