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Not Another Celebrity Takedown, Please


Feb 17 2014
When stars make headlines, even Christians are quick to throw stones.

In our hyper-connected culture, we have easy access to the rich and famous, access that could be mistaken for intimacy. We are in-tune to the details of their lives: their wardrobe choices, their song lyrics and sound bites, their loves and their loves lost, and eventually their demises. As we watch from the screens of our televisions, computers, and phones, we've developed a language for talking about them, ascribing motives, and attaching meaning to what they do, as if we know them.

Now, culture is meant to be engaged, and should be done with discernment, wisdom, and even at times, humor. But problems arise when we begin to view celebrities as symbols, as vehicles for our commentary, instead of the complex, priceless, fallen human beings that they are (and we all are).

Over the past year or so, we've seen Beyonce dance seductively, and Miley Cyrus and Duck Dynasty shock audiences worldwide, granted, for two very different reasons. We've watched Amanda Bynes unravel on Twitter, gazed at Justin Bieber's mugshot, and heard the news of countless celebrity splits. Most recently, Philip Seymour Hoffman died with a needle in his arm, leaving three young kids and a creative world that relished his talent.

While we sift through dance moves and skimpy outfits, we easily forget that there is a deep, dark underbelly to the life of a celebrity, a place that demands our compassion, and even our humility. If we are too busy trying to understand if a celebrity is a worthy role model, or even if they are upholding or failing to uphold some variety of Christian morality, we forget to see them as the people they are. And to be honest, celebrities have the odds stacked against them in a way we probably won't ever be able to fully understand.

The trappings of celebrity elevates a person to—indeed—God-like status. Look no further than Kanye West's interview with the New York Times for an affirmation of such a belief. He says, "I got the answers, I understand culture, I am the nucleus." Research shows that fame is not unlike being glorified. Except that instead of the glory of God, which is for our benefit and his honor, the glory of a human is bound within our fallen nature, carrying with it an addiction to the glorification complicated by an unfathomable fear and insecurity.

Adding to this, fame isolates an individual, where "larger-than-life persona interferes with the development of desirable relationships." Fame also comes with gifts and symbols of such opulence, gifts like drugs, guns, alcohol, and cars, often the same things that abruptly end these lives-at-the-top. So although celebrities are not excused of responsibility for their actions, the fact remains that their lives are often riddled with temptation, trouble and isolation.

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Not Another Celebrity Takedown, Please