Here in the United States, people are obsessed with celebrities. Movie stars, athletes, musicians, politicians, you name it. And Americans don't just care about celebrities' careers. We are fascinated by every aspect of their lives. There is a whole industry around celebrity gossip. For many people, the juicier and more personal a celebrity news story is, the better.
In the United States, the interest in celebrity gossip spans all echelons of society. There are celebrity gossip magazines and websites that target the upper class, the lower class, those interested in high culture and fashion, and those who have more pedestrian tastes. From glossy magazines to tabloid newspapers, there is a celebrity gossip news outlet for just about everyone. Big celebrity news stories, especially those related to romantic relationships, are often discussed in hair salons and office break rooms. Following celebrities' lives is something of a national pastime.
Celebrity Gossip Around the World
Celebrity gossip is popular in other countries, as well. In England, people follow the lives of the royal family in addition to sports, politics, and media celebrities. But the obsession with famous people's personal lives does not extend to every corner of the globe. In some cultures, the idea of celebrity gossip is considered foreign and even offensive.
Celebrities Are People Too
Many people in the Middle East, for example, strongly value personal privacy and believe that it's wrong to discuss celebrities as if they were our friends or family members. They reason that they would not like to be discussed in such graphic detail by other people, so they should treat celebrities with the same courtesy they would expect for themselves. After all, celebrities are people too.
A Matter of Free Speech?
Americans value freedom of speech, and many people in the U.S. strongly believe that they should be able to talk about whatever or whomever they want, regardless of whether or not it violates other people's privacy. People who like celebrity gossip might also argue that celebrities knew what they were getting into when they made their career choices. For example, when people choose to become actors, they know that, if they make it big, their lives will be matters of public scrutiny and they will always be in the spotlight, even off-screen.
It seems that not all celebrities are comfortable with the idea of being in the public eye 24 hours per day. There have been many high-profile cases of celebrities getting angry at paparazzi, lashing out at the public, and experiencing emotional breakdowns due to the stress created by their lack of privacy. Some might argue that these people should have chosen different careers if they wanted to avoid media attention, but this seems like a callous and uncaring argument. Celebrities, especially in the entertainment industry, are interested in using their unique talents to make careers for themselves, not in being a conversation topic for an entire country.
Why We Love Celebrity Gossip
What does our obsession with celebrity gossip say about us? Perhaps we find that our own lives are not interesting enough, so we focus on intrigue in the lives of others in order to fill the void. This doesn't make sense, however, when we consider how much more interested we are in celebrities' lives than in the lives of those around us. For example, if our coworker was getting a divorce, we wouldn't spend time discussing it in the break room. Most of us have more tact than that. It's more likely that we crave fame and fortune so deeply that we want to know absolutely everything about the people who have it. But as those ever-newsworthy celebrity breakdowns prove, fame and fortune might not be all it's cracked up to be.