It is the most wonderful time of the year: the Oscars upon us. As we gear up for this yearly spectacle of self-congratulation and back-patting, let us take a moment to reflect upon our entertainment media culture.
Two relatively high-profile celebs have recently vowed to remove themselves from the public spotlight. At a recent film premier, plagiarizing actor and giant robot slayer Shia “Louis Stevens” LaBeouf wore a bag over his head that read “I AM NOT FAMOUS ANYMORE” – a move that was met with a collective sigh and eye-roll from the general public.
Now, in a 5,000 word essay for the most recent issue of New York Magazine, Alec Baldwin has announced: “This is the last time I’m going to talk about my personal life in an American publication ever again.”
The essay is filled with nastiness for just about everyone that has ever publicly clashed with Baldwin (roughly half of the population of L.A.) and the media in general. The whole thing reeks of a man teetering on the brink of hysteria.
The Baldwin essay, much like the now semi-infamous LaBeouf bag shenanigan, will likely be met with a collective sigh from the public at large.
The old-school glitz and glamor of the Oscars, when situated within our current age of grainy YouTube videos of belligerent celebrities and bag-wearing tantrums, seems almost like a grotesque, pathetically nostalgic farce: a complete anachronism.
The tight image-controlling of the entertainment industry that the Oscars embody is simply an antiquated relic of a bygone era.
The public now has the ability to constantly gaze upon celebrities in all their unfiltered human glory, not just when the media gods allow us to.
We see mean-spirited tweets. We see leaked nude pictures. We hear angry voicemails. The oppressive, microscopic glare of the likes of celebrity magazines and TMZ has been amplified a thousand-fold by the collective-consciousness that is the Internet.
As Uncle Ben once told a weary Peter Parker: “With great power comes great responsibility.” Are we as consumers of media responsible for these celebrity melt-downs?
We have seen the Bieber/LaBeouf/Baldwin affliction over and over again, yet we continue to feign surprise with each new celebrity blowout. It is obvious: fame has the ability to corrode even the most fresh-faced and talented of us.
This year, as we gawk at so-and-so’s magnificent sparkly dress, or tearfully listen to so-and-so give an emotional acceptance speech; let us think critically about the implications of our media consumption.
What are we really doing to these people? Does our never-ending gaze simply fan the flames of their narcissism, or are we inadvertently pushing these poor people into insanity?