*(The first paragraph of this post has miraculously vanished! I will try and fix it soon. Apologies.)
For me, ever since I first heard Baby One More Time I was hooked. And I use the word "hooked" with much literal sense. I'm not talking about simply being a 'fan' of something or someone, but, stepping over that thin line into the category of idolisation. Britney, to me, was everything I thought I should be when I reached young adulthood. She was beautiful, talented, a good dancer, desired by men, popular, rich and famous. I had my room covered in her posters, as a shrine of sorts to what I aspired to be like. I bought all her songs on tapes (CDs weren't even popular then) and listened to them repeatedly. I still to this day know every dance step from of her music videos, especially Oops I Did It Again. By obsessively buying into that persons merchandise, by watching all of an actors movies or buying all the magazines a model is on the cover of, we feel we are connecting with them more so than other people.
Part of me believes that we make ourselves empathise with the particular person we idolise, whether its an important comparison or not. For example, all of the women I have listed above could be described as having 'troubled' periods of their lives, Kate with the substance abuse, Britney with the mental health problems, Marilyn with the failed marriages etc. Everyone has had some trouble in their lives but we see these people in the public eye as beating their demons and coming out the other end, getting endless amounts of attention, just as rich and beautiful as ever. Well it didn't end up so good for Marilyn, however, she has now been immortalised forever as some heroin of her time, a martyr of fame. Another example could be as simple as a person standing up for an issue you feel passionate about and bringing to the spotlight, think Lady Gaga and gay rights, or even just succeeding at a certain niche market genre that you are interested in.
A more troubling aspect of idolisation could be down to our own self esteem issues. We don't feel as beautiful or talented or thin as these people, so we aspire to be clones of them. Believing that working towards the life that someone else has will inevitably make us happy. If I had a pound for every time I heard a pop star say "just follow your dreams" or "never give up on your dreams" I would be a happy girl.
I believe it all comes down to success. Success can come in many forms and can have many different worths. Westerners particularly are drawn to success being based on materialism and beauty. Or how many twitter followers you have. Simple. There comes a time though where you have to stop focusing all your energy outwards towards anyone except yourself. People do eventually grow out of idolisation as they realise that they should be investing their time/money/intellect on themselves rather than an actor. If we don't then we end up seeing that middle aged man with a dozen tattoos of Julia Roberts all over his body and think it's the norm. Many may argue that by having stars who we idolise, a bar is set for what we are hoping to achieve in life. That is true to a certain extent but then why should we let the entertainment industry dictate what the value of achievement is? Or any industry for that matter? Surely it should be individual goals for individual people. Not some subliminal mind screw of marketing and smoke screening conducted by some high-up share holders. Not all of us should be Beliebers!
I still love Britney, just not to the extent where I buy her perfumes or watch all her interviews on YouTube. I'm still a fan, but I'm a fan of many things in life but now I put my own worth forward as the most important thing. As sad as it sounds, we should all be our own no.1 fans.
(image via dreamwallpapers )