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Addiction in the Spotlight: Celebrity Addiction

 article about celebrity addiction

This article belongs to Addictions theme.


Throughout time, the idea of the celebrity has been a strong ideology in popular culture. According to the American Heritage Dictionary (www.dictionary.com), the word celebrity means someone who is famous, and is renowned for their various talents. For the most part (disregarding "Big Brother" celebrities, people famous for a name's sake; Paris Hilton for example and the ever popular WAG culture in the UK), the celebrity is still someone renowned for their talents, and your huge stars are those who excel in acting, music or sports for example.

However, with the popularity of celebrities, the tabloid press's obsession with catching celebrities out and today's audience's having a slightly sadistic, voyeuristic tendency to take pleasure in other people's car crash lives (reality talk shows, Big Brother and our pleasure in seeing people of status fall hard to earth being just a couple of examples), this renown and celebrity status can be a burden on celebrities dealing with certain ailments in their lives.

So, with all these in mind, let's take a look at celebrity addiction, and the way these problems are represented in the media.

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Docherty's anarchic lifestyle and excessive drug taking has made him an instant cult celebrity.
One of today's most famous "junkies" is the ever apparent UK tabloid best seller Pete Docherty. Now, although I am not a personal fan of his music, he was first thrust into the spotlight with his work with the UK bands The Libertines and later, Babyshambles. His renown from this was from a more niche audience, from people interested in his music.

However, Docherty's anarchic lifestyle and excessive drug taking has made him an instant cult celebrity. Tabloid stories and photo shoots of him leaving court for drug charges, and even pictures of drug binges in his house have created a cult following for Docherty. This coverage, and his new celebrity status has created a sympathetic fan base for the star, and (in the same way fans were blinded by the charges brought before Michael Jackson for his child molestation cases), people believe that charges shouldn't be brought up, because of who he is, and their love for him.

This causes a huge problem for hard addicts such as Docherty. His mass celebrity status satisfies our voyeuristic urge for car crash lifestyles. This means that his celebrity status comes not from his musical talents, but from drugs, drug binges and criminal activity. The problem arises then from his need to be in the spotlight. Without the drugs, his fan base and popularity was very minimal, so to satisfy his urge to be in the spotlight, he needs to give fans what they want; more car crash lifestyle choices.

However, Docherty is just one person, and is not the only case study we can look at. Hollywood sociality "party girls" such as Lindsay Lohan, Paris Hilton and Britney Spears have all had their fair share of tabloid articles; predominantly for all the wrong reasons.

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However, the media saw this as profit, saw the idea of Britney's fall from grace as journalistic gold.
We are forever seeing stars such as Paris Hilton and Lindsay Lohan falling out of taxi cabs drunk, being arrested and charged for driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol or even taking stints in rehab units for their addictions. However, as far as a public breakdown is concerned, we need look no further than Britney Spears.

Constant public attention, both in her public and private life left Britney on a one way trip to the very bottom. Alcohol abuse amongst other things saw the star in a number of embarrassing situations, resulting in her shaving her head.

The media followed this over the months prior to her losing custody of her children and shaving her head, constantly reporting on her fragile state of mind. It was obvious that Britney needed help. However, the media saw this as profit, saw the idea of Britney's fall from grace as journalistic gold.

With no help, and with all her mishaps being publicly aired, it is easy to see why her addictions spiralled out of control, and this is the same story across the board (with other hard core party girls).

The life of a celebrity addict is a dangerous one. With paparazzi and tabloid newspapers constantly on the heels of celebrities, and an audiences voyeuristic need for car crash lifestyles and the dreaded celebrity "fall from grace," celebrity addicts are fodder for the press. Audiences want it, the press needs it, and the celebrities are just collateral in the media's need for sales and ratings.

Although part of me believes that, as celebrities, they have an obligation to act as role models for younger admirers. They should respect this, and be strong against vices because one of the key parts of being a celebrity is the constant attention. However, the other part of me sympathises for celebrity addicts.

Everybody makes mistakes. The constant pressure for celebrities to perform, and be on top of their game must be draining on them. This, coupled with the press's constant onslaught when things go wrong must make the pressure for a drug's escapism all the more appealing to celebrities. This, with the problem of rehab, and the media's desire for celebrities to fail must make the process daunting and a guaranteed failure, sending celebrities into a constant downward spiral.

The term celebrity is one that means to have fame and renown. The way celebrities achieve this in today's society is very different though, and the press will always look for a celebrity gone awry.


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