‘Lifestyles of the rich and famous’: Why it’s worth staying up to date on celebrities
When in was in fourth grade, my best friend made fun of me for not knowing the contestants on “American Idol.”
“Oh, what do you expect from Ella?” she said. “She doesn’t know anything.”
That day, I vowed to learn everything I possibly could about celebrities. This might sound dramatic—after all, it was just a throwaway comment made by a 10-year-old—but I really did strive to learn as much as I could. I started reading fashion magazines and gossip blogs. I started listening to the Billboard Hot 100. I started watching all the cool TV shows everyone else seemed to be familiar with.
Flash forward to summer 2017, and my knowledge came to an ultimate head when I took an internship at a fashion magazine in New York. Each day, I would search on Google News to see the latest on the Kardashian-Jenners, the Hadids and the British royal family. After a while, I knew as much about celebrity style as I did about politics (I’m a political science major).
While this knowledge of celebrity culture might seen excessive, there are ways in which it’s been surprisingly beneficial.
First comes the obvious: Knowing what Kim Kardashian and Gigi Hadid are up to provides a nice escape from the realities of the world in which we live. When there are real issues to deal with, like healthcare, immigration and gun control, it’s fun to be able to take a break to think about something of less importance. Whether Justin Bieber and Selena Gomez are dating (they are) or Miley Cyrus and Liam Hemsworth are married (they aren’t) doesn’t impact my life in any meaningful way. But sometimes, it’s nice to think about things that aren’t really all that important.
It can also be nice to step into someone else’s life for a while. Sure, celebrities lead glamorous lives full of fancy parties, designer clothes and giant paychecks. But they also get followed around when they head to the grocery store, whereas I could (hypothetically) drop an entire Cobb salad on the floor while headed to my common room without getting judged by anyone.
But sometimes, celebrity news resonates all too well, providing insight on important issues happening in the world. For instance, Taylor Swift’s sexual assault trial held the country in rapture this summer. The country-crooner-turned-pop-star was widely praised for her pithy commentary and for holding her assaulter accountable on a highly visible stage. Happening shortly before Tarana Burke’s #MeToo movement took off on social media, Swift started a nationwide conversation around sexual assault, asking for a symbolic $1 from the man who grabbed her butt without her consent. And the #MeToo movement itself was spurred in part by celebrities coming forward and speaking up—after all, a film producer was the first powerful figure to go down. Fashion, something often considered a frivolous pursuit, became a significant portion of the #MeToo and Time’s Up movements, with celebrities sporting all black on the red carpet in protest of sexual harassment and assault.
Despite its seemingly unimportant nature, fashion and celebrity style have become hot-button issues, often taking a political tone. Dolce & Gabbana—a high-fashion Italian label—has taken heat as a brand frequently sported by first lady Melania Trump. And the president’s eldest daughter, Ivanka, has found herself in hot water because of her eponymous label. The ethical implications of Ivanka—a political figure—sporting clothing from her own brand are murky, and the Ivanka Trump Collection has faced criticism from designers like Aquazzura, which accused the brand of stealing its designs.
Looking back on my fourth grade experience, I wonder what life would be like today had I stayed disinterested in celebrity news. I know that the tables have turned—now, some of my Washington University peers look down on my excessive knowledge of trends and rumors. But honestly, I like being able to confidentially whisper about how Kylie Jenner will do as a mom and what Meghan Markle will wear for her wedding—it’s nice being in the know.
So, thank you, former best friend, for calling me out on my lack of celebrity knowledge. You helped me grow. Oh, and get a job. Thanks for that, too.