“I’ve a friend who is a famous celebrity chef. I’ve known him since he wasn’t a celebrity. Very occasionally he still calls me on the phone and we have good hour long chats like in the old days when he wasn’t famous and I saw him often. As a rule nowadays only two words are uttered during our rare conversations: “Me and I”, and he does all the talking.” — controversial cook
Not in the least. Let’s say that there are famous people of modern times who I admire such as: Martin Luther King, Ghandi, Einstein, Helen Keller, Nelson Mandela, Maya Angelou, among others. In short people of substance who have unselfishly contributed to the wellbeing and happiness of humankind. But as for the fabricated and overhyped modern day celebrities of the media I’m totally indifferent and unimpressed by them.
What I dislike though are not the celebrities who to me are just people like any other but the irrational public’s adulation of celebrities and the fact that some sections of the media keep pushing them down people’s throats.
Unfortunately what the media ignores is that while there are people who like to feed their minds with a diet of celebrities’ news, scandals and trivia there are also those that not only don’t but are also annoyed by the endless daily glorification of celebrities that has infected every aspect of modern life.
Now let’s analyse first of all why the media or some sections of it keep doing it.
One reason is because being a medium of mass information often tied up to big business it sees celebrities as instruments for promoting all sorts of things and stimulating whims and wants in consumers.
The other is because they must fill lots of pages with articles, pictures and endless streams of TV or radio time therefore talking about or portraying celebrities is one way of doing it.
The other question is why there are lots of people infatuated or even obsessed with celebrities?
Basically it has all to do with the primitive past when being under the protection of a strong caveman guaranteed survival. In other words celebrities are seen as successful winners in society and their lavish lifestyle desired so being a follower of a successful, wealthy celebrity unconsciously feels like belonging to the clan of the successful strong caveman that was the celebrity of those times.
Another is because some people like to gossip and celebrities with their lavish private lives are an endless source of gossiping.
In the Middle Ages when the rich and noble passed in the streets poor people tried to touch their robes with their hands hoping that some of the wealth or powers would brush on them. Therefore similarly nowadays some people flock to celebrities’ public appearance, try to have their autographs or buy and use the products that they endorse. Unfortunately such infatuation backfires because desiring to be like a celebrity and trying to emulate their lifestyle or looks only leads to dissatisfaction, low self esteem, delusion and depression.
aving said all this let me answer another question which is: who are celebrities?
By far and large ordinary people that by circumstances, flukes of fate or key contacts in the right places have been suddenly raised to celebrity status by the media. Some of them may even be good in what they do but their talents are no more useful to society, in fact less so, than those of say: good surgeons, doctors, nurses, farmers, teachers, fire fighters, soldiers, carpenters, street sweepers, waiters, plumbers, and so on,
There are some celebrities who are modest enough to admit it but most of them intoxicated and pumped up by the huge attention, praises and the awards that they keep receiving will say that they got there because of merit.
Celebrity chefs are one type of famous people that were created in late seventies early eighties soon after the huge wave of pop stars that took the world in the sixties. It seems that every age has its own kind of celebrities
There were a few famous chefs before them such as the French Brillat- Savarin, August Escoffier, The Italian Pellegrino Artusi and Ada Boni, the American Julia Child and the English Elisabeth David for instance, but they less assuming, more truly passionate about educating people on the merits of the culinary arts and more down to earth.
Let’s say that they looked and acted more like ordinary people because the media of the time, being less globally pervasive didn’t have the means to magnify and deify them out of all proportions.
Having said all this, the question is: are modern day celebrities so bad for society that we should eliminate them from our radars?
Not really because if some people like them they should be free to follow them. However I believe they shouldn’t be seen as role models or envied because the world that they inhabit is an artificial make believe, plastic and phoney one that totally lacks values therefore it cannot be of any practical use to anybody.
To sum it up, I’m not against celebrities and as for celebrity chefs my main objection to them is that their programs or books or whatever they do are invariably centred on the promotion of their persona as a celebrity rather than using them to address and try to improve the severe food problems affecting people and society.