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Celebrity worship and the meaning of words

By Erik Rush
web posted October 2, 2006

idol: (n) 1: a representation or symbol of an object of worship; broadly: a false god.

icon: (n) 3: an object of uncritical devotion; see IDOL.

star: (n) 1a: a natural luminous body visible in the sky [ed: heavens] especially at night.

- Merriam Webster's Collegiate Dictionary, Tenth Edition

Movie idol, pop idol, teen idol, sports icon, media icon, movie star, pop star… Superstar.

By now (given my recent writings) you may have correctly deduced that I have declared war on the cult of celebrity. Not all celebrities themselves, to be sure; a growing number of celebrities are "coming out," as it were, and declaring that resolute action is essential in winning the War on Terror and even the Culture War. What I'm laying out here is not so much how harmful outspoken anti-American, Left-leaning celebrities have become, but the culture (the cult of celebrity) that has mesmerized Americans.

One may also have noted my use of the dictionary so that there may be no question with regard to the meaning of these words when I employ them, and why I do so.

Most people (I've been guilty of this as well) presume that they know what most commonly-used words in their own language mean. Often, they really don't, despite how easily they slip from our tongues. Fewer understand the psychological, cultural and social implications of the use of certain words. Suffice it to say that between perversion of the modern English language, colloquialisms, Ebonics and Political Correctness, this has become a runaway train of delusion, denial and fallacious thought – not to mention belief systems – in America.

I refer the reader to the last section of Webster's definition of "idol": A false god. I certainly do not mean to suggest that patriotic Americans ought discard all of their DVDs, CDs, and sports jerseys – just that they attempt to gain perspective between that which they enjoy as a pastime and the people who produce it, who, talented at their craft though they may be, are often wholly ignorant with regard to the sociopolitical issues to which they so often speak.

Often… but not always.

Take rock musician and avid bowhunter Ted Nugent, for example: He and his wife Shemane, both constitutional activists, have definitely made their mark publicly as people who've proven you don't have to hate America or be a debaucherous druggie to be rock'n'rollers. Their appearances in the media have shown them to be morally-grounded people with opinions based in a good working knowledge of geopolitics and the environment, among other areas. In other words, they're not the Dixie Chicks.

Not that Nugent should be worshipped any more than the plethora of wackadoos who routinely express a craven and rather nauseating sensitivity toward our enemies and knee-jerk criticism of our nation. This, of course has trickled down from deluded politicians, the media, and has tricked up from uninformed Americans who simply wish we would "all get along." It is an immature, theoretical, and yes, wishful view of the world - diametrically opposed to that which actually exists.

Are celebrities any more unique or inherently special or better than anyone else? Obviously not. They may be uniquely talented in areas that society has chosen to view as exceptional in comparison to abilities considered more mundane, but they're not better. Rather, some have proven themselves of late to be inherently worse as individuals than most people as evidenced by their elitist narcissism, cavalier paternalism, vitriolic personal attacks and hateful rhetoric.

The cult of celebrity was given life through marketing – "same as it ever was" (as David Byrne said). That celebrities have been dubbed (by a perverse public relations machine) "idols," "icons" and "stars" speaks volumes relative to how they and their handlers wish them to be viewed. Is it any surprise that as America faces possibly her most difficult challenges to date, those in this pantheon of false gods have almost homogeneously taken up the banner of unbridled hedonism, anti-Americanism and all things religious? It ought not be a surprise – their very godhood is being threatened. ESR

Erik Rush is a New York-born Black columnist and author who writes a weekly column of political fare. He is also Associate Editor and Publisher for the New Media Alliance, Inc. The New Media Alliance is a non-profit (501c3) national coalition of writers, journalists and grass-roots media outlets. An archive containing links to his writing is at http://www.erikrush.com. His new book, "It's the Devil, Stupid!" is available through most major outlets.


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