In a conversation with one of the founders of this website we found ourselves talking about society’s fascination with celebrities. Internet news feeds are flooded with news and gossip about famous people, television broadcasts shows that are solely dedicated to that same theme. Practicing social distancing in the grocery store line provides us with a view of a big selection of tabloid magazines. We as a culture have an inexhaustible appetite for information about the lives of entertainers, athletes and influencers.
One of the more odd parts of our celebrity news craving is that while we enjoy creating fame and bestowing adoration on someone, we become almost ravenous when those same people suffer a meltdown. It’s amazing to me to watch people take such perverse pleasure in the downfall of someone famous. The people at places like TMZ have built their entire business on our need to watch stars get knocked down a peg. You would be hard pressed to find someone who hasn’t snickered a little if they see someone trip and fall, walk into a door or wall because they’re otherwise occupied or some other type of mishap (see America’s Funniest Home Videos); people go absolutely bonkers when a notable person has some kind of trouble. The more lurid the details, the farther the fall from grace, the deeper the trouble becomes the more delight people derive from the celebrity’s misery. In some way it’s as if we want them to pay a penance for the wealth, popularity and good fortune we gave them and it serves as a warning to other famous folks that “we made you and we can break you”.
This behavior isn’t something new and didn’t come into existence with the advent of social media, smart phones, the internet, television, radio, magazines, newspapers or any other type of media. It seems to be a part of our basic human nature, which is inherently selfish. When we see someone else suffer it distracts us from our own problems or it satisfies the need we have to watch another person get their comeuppance. Jesus Christ himself fell victim to this same behavior by the people of his day. While he came to save us from our sin, reconcile God’s children to him and restore the relationship with our Heavenly Father; the people of his day allowed jealously, misplaced expectations, pride and a thirst for their own desires to turn their hearts in one of the most vivid examples of the behavior I have been writing about. Many of the people who shouted and praised his entry to Jerusalem on Sunday, were shouting crucify him, crucify him a few days later.
Psychologists theorize that another part of our fascination with celebrity failure is that we also love a good comeback. While I weep and mourn on Friday for what Christ had to endure as people denied, rejected and killed him; I REJOICE on Easter Sunday at the greatest comeback of all time! He is Risen!! Risen Indeed!
By Dean Marini