Obsessed with Celebrity
By Todd A. Smith
I am constantly amazed at our celebrity obsession in America. When we recognize talent in someone we build them up and put them on a pedestal before they have even achieved any level of greatness in their respective arena in life and wonder why that attention can turn egotistical and narcissistic before our very eyes.
Such is the case of LeBron James. Never has an athletic prodigy captivated a nation like James did as a teenage basketball phenom in Akron, Ohio. Before receiving a high school diploma, James had graced the cover of Sports Illustrated and was featured on national television countless times.
Despite the suffocating media attention, James seemed to handle our celebrity obsession and the spotlight with grace and ease, never once showing a hint of arrogance and entitlement. However, that all seemed to change when the NBA’s prized free agent commissioned a one-hour ESPN special entitled “The Decision” to announce that he planned to leave his hometown Cleveland Cavaliers to join forces with Dwayne Wade and Chris Bosh on the Miami Heat.
The criticism he deservedly received came down immediately from burned jerseys in Cleveland to an online rant from Cavs owner Dan Gilbert. Although I strongly believe that James merited all of the backlash he has received from the presentation of his decision, his ego is not necessarily self-created but a result of our celebrity obsession and desire to find a god in everyone and everything else but in God Himself.
I have consistently written in Regal Magazine that we search for our heroes in all the wrong places. And although we live in a society that is becoming more secular and less religious by the second, we show our need to worship someone or something by our idolizing of superstars or celebrity obsession. Furthermore, we get worked up into a frenzy to praise flawed human beings but cannot get up at all on a Sunday morning to heap praise on the One who deserves it, instead glorifying the “chosen one.”
I, like many Regal Magazine readers, was forced to pay attention to “The Decision” through no decision of my own choosing. From sports channels to broadcast news outlets, the news cycle for an entire week was dominated by the self-proclaimed “King,” despite the fact that he has yet to reach the throne of the NBA.
However, I do not blame James for this; I blame our celebrity obsession for creating out-of-control egos in the fields of sports and entertainment. To James’ credit, he has lived up to virtually every individual expectation he faced since entering the NBA in 2003. With that much pressure, most would have failed miserably to live up to the hype.
We constantly build our celebrities up, hanging on to their every word and following their every step. Paparazzi follow them around and bloggers act as if they have no material to write about unless it centers on Hollywood, Broadway or South Beach.
We are the reason that many are egomaniacs and narcissists. Should James receive criticism for not handling his move to Miami like a man? Absolutely. But we should also remember that he is just a man and not worthy of so much praise.
Smith is publisher of Regal Black Men’s Magazine.