“Our celebrity captivation seems out of proportion,” says Michael S. Levy, PhD, addiction expert and author of CELEBRITY & ENTERTAINMENT OBSESSION: Understanding Our Addiction
Dr. Levy wrote CELEBRITY & ENTERTAINMENT OBSESSION to shed light on why we as a society are obsessed with people who work in the entertainment field—movies and television in particular—but singers, musicians sports figures and people on reality TV as well. Dr. Levy, whose previous book, Take Control of Your Drinking…and You May Not Need to Quit, resonated with many people, finds it remarkable that people who work in the entertainment field get more recognition and adoration than a competent brain surgeon who saves people’s lives, or a pathologist who has made inroads in cancer treatment.
This wasn’t always the case. Sixty years ago, a Gallup Poll study showed that people who were most admired included Einstein, Winston Churchill, Eisenhower and Douglas MacArthur. Not one entertainer, sports star or media personality made the list. Fast-forward to 2000 – 2009 and we have stars like Bono, Tiger Woods, and Denzel Washington making the list.
Dr. Levy can discuss society’s obsession with beauty, how our vulnerability to addiction, our need for idols and our voyeuristic predispositions all contribute to our celebrity obsession as well as:
• How the mass media controls our thinking, the nature of our social intercourse and interactions with each other and our preoccupation with celebrities
• How the media exploits our voyeurism and how our voyeurism serves as a form of distraction and amusement
• Why being entertained has become our primary preoccupation
• Why celebrities’ real-life, off-screen stories get more publicity than anything they have done in their careers
Dr. Levy laments that television news programs focus as much, if not more, on the lives of high-profile celebrities than about other more important issues of the day. He believes that our obsession with entertainers is something to be concerned about since we will have missed opportunities to learn from others who could provide us with valuable ideas and standards for our young people. While the entertainment machine has given us a quick fix to feel good, Dr. Levy asks: “is our obsession with celebrities the best use our time? What will be important to reflect on at the end of our lives: Will it be what we knew about some celebrity or might it be something else?”
As a child I vividly remember looking at the cover of tabloid newspapers on my neighbors dining room table. There always seemed to be some story about big foot or aliens or some other far-fetched creature that someone had captured on film. My friend’s mom couldn’t seem to stay away from this stuff. Every time I came over to play a new edition of that same newspaper sat right on the edge of the table where the previous version sat a week or so before.
Eventually junk magazines replaced those tabloids. You know the type I’m talking about. The ones that claim Jennifer Aniston is still upset with Angelina Jolie or secretly married or expecting her first baby. Poor Jennifer Aniston has been on the cover of those magazines since Brad Pitt left her so many years ago. Why does the public have such a fascination with her love life or her desire to have a baby?
Why do Americans love to watch The Kardashians or any other celebrity family? Doesn’t Facebook seem like it’s own little celebrity show? Show me the beautiful pictures of your glamorous vacation, gorgeous children or sparkly new wedding ring. How many of us seem to strive for our own limelight these days with pictures of our children’s straight A’s and prom pictures?
Have you ever wondered why our culture is so obsessed with celebrities? With all that we have going on in our own lives why do we spend any time watching, listening and learning about the lives of people who aren’t all that special anyway?
Michael S. Levy’s new book Celebrity & Entertainment Obsession Understanding Our Addiction gets to the heart of this very interesting phenomenon. Why are people so interested in the lives of the rich and famous? Are we all trying to live vicariously through the images projected on film and video?
How has our perspective on celebrities changed over time? Why does it seem like people now care about the famous just because they are famous, not because their fame is warranted by some great accomplishment? If you’ve ever wondered why our culture seems so addicted read Levy’s book. It’s an interesting look into the psychology behind this growing obsession.
Meet the author:
Michael S. Levy, PhD is a clinical psychologist who is the director of substance use services at North Shore Medical Center in Salem, Massachusetts. He also maintains a private practice in psychotherapy in Andover, Massachusetts and is a lecturer in psychiatry at Harvard Medical School. He has often been interviewed on radio and television. Levy has published numerous articles and book chapters, gives many lectures and workshops, and is the author of one previous book, Take Control of Your Drinking…And You May Not Need to Quit.