Obama & The Quest For Popularity & Celebrity

Greg Hengler
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Posted: May 08, 2009 2:35 PM



Celebrities have become the new temple of our worship. How else can one explain the Obama phenomenon? Not only can we see our gods and goddesses on television, read about them – see Perez Hilton’s blog or TMZ, talk to them, and maybe even touch them, but we can also see them sin, fail, and die – big bucks for celebrity tabloids.

Nothing affirms our similarity with these celebrities than their fallenness and mortality -- or their purchase of a cheeseburger. We are just like them and we want daily affirmation that our emptiness is shared by our celebrity-gods.

Greatest satisfaction is reached when celebs experience more hardships, pain, grief, and sadness than us -- maybe even a pre-mature self-induced death! If they die young (e.g., Marilyn Monroe, James Dean, Jim Morrison, Kurt Cobain, Anna Nicole Smith, and Heath Ledger) the more undeserved attribution we give them. Fine, James Dean deserves it.

Some celebrities have no significance: Kim Kardashian [see pic] and Paris Hilton -- to name a couple. Hopefully neither of these young starlets commits the ultimate celebrity sin: aging -- ask Elvis.

America continues its fascination with Elvis, in part because he achieved success in all the usual definitions, and his reputation for being "different" and bringing "change." Just think, whenever someone says they have met a celebrity, what is the first thing they say: "He or she was so down-to-earth.” Indeed, they are just like you and me. Yea, right.

Not all celebrity-gods are created the same. For example, after a bizarre afternoon with Elvis, Paul McCartney was asked how it was to be with the King of Rock 'n' Roll. “Odd,” was all he said. Outside of wearing just a hint of eye shadow and a wardrobe of pink and black -- let’s not forget the cars Elvis bought by the dozens, his obsession with police badges or his peanut butter-bacon-and-banana sandwiches -- Elvis is nowhere near the weirdness facing today’s celebrities. Plus, Elvis actually had incredible talent, therefore, earning his celebrity-badge.

What is it that makes Americans so fascinated with celebrities who sin, fail, and die? I would argue that these celebrities fail to find happiness -- which is why their quest for popularity becomes their primary source of identification. 

In Western movies the cowboy is always unpopular. Clint Eastwood's cowboy characters always did what was right -- even though everybody found it unpopular. This is why America loves cowboy movies. The cowboy shows up to a town filled with crooks and cowards. Cowboy cleans house and leaves town. BTW: When the Left used "cowboy" as a perjorative to describe President Bush I always saw it as a compliment. But I digress.

The popular and famous validate us. We might all lust for the material things and the fame that they attain, but because we can not reach that goal, we take satisfaction in seeing that they made it to the "promised land" and found it empty. We need to know that it is not enough -- you can have it all and still have nothing.

Now for the politically incorrect moral of my story: We are all searching for something to validate our life. We inherently know that what the world offers is crap. When we stop trying to find validation, identity, and popularity from the world, we will be on the right road. This road will reveal that there is only one way to the Promised Land, and the God who opens the doors does not sin, fail, or die. Furthermore, following God is one of the few guaranteed roads to unpopularity. Just ask the cowboy.