Vince, Who Art in Heaven

Posted: December 7, 2011 in Miscellaneous, UWO
Tags: , , , ,

So, Adrian Grenier came to Western.  From the reaction it got on Twitter you would have thought it to be the second coming of Jesus Christ and not a brief appearance by a C-List actor known only for his role on TV’s Entourage.

Entourage star Adrian Grenier came to the Western campus in September.

Now, don’t get me wrong, Entourage is a great show and it’s sad to see it end its run.  And Grenier’s Vincent Chase is a great character who has come on in leaps and bounds from his humble beginnings in the first few seasons.  But I don’t understand why people flocked to see him like he has done something more meaningful with his life than filling up half an hour of our Sunday nights?

Today’s society puts celebrities, even minor ones – **cough** Jersey Shore **cough** – on a pedestal.  We raise them up to such deific heights that we forget that they are real people with different personalities than we see on their various movies, shows, or records.  And, unlike real life where we don’t like certain people for their personalities, we expect every celebrity to be a perfect model of friendliness and humility.

But I don’t want to question why we put celebrities on pedestals – that’s a question that probably could never be answered satisfactorily, but rather what we really hope to get out of meeting them in person?  What do we really expect from that meeting?  What kind of value do we expect for sometimes exorbitant fees and hour-long waits in line?

I suppose that everyone hopes to forge some kind of connection with a celebrity, whether just as a quick conversation or as a more long-term sharing of interests.  Is that actually going to legitimately happen though?  You might exchange some pleasantries while he or she makes out a semi-personal stock message on your dime-a-dozen album, DVD, or book created by that celebrity, but nothing meaningful is likely to occur.  However, when you do share a heart-to-heart with Justin Bieber be sure to let me know.

The fact is that we fall in love with the characters a celebrity acts, the music they play, or the characters they create as writers.  We don’t fall in love with celebrities unless their out-of-spotlight persona is larger than their in-spotlight persona, and that is very rare.  Bono is one celebrity that managed to pull it off, but he’s a piece of shit.  Let’s take Adrian Grenier for an example.  I bet maybe only five out of every one hundred people could tell you anything about Adrian Grenier other than what roles he has played and a large number of those will only be familiar with him from Entourage.  We don’t love Adrian Grenier as much as we love Vince Chase and that’s who we really want to see.  We don’t want to see Grenier sign autograph after autograph or talk about other projects; we want Vincent Chase.

Now, we can easily get Vincent Chase by pulling up an old episode of Entourage and throwing it on.  We don’t need to pay money to see the actor who plays him, doing so is likely to lead to disappointment when we see Adrian Grenier the real person and not in character as Vinny Chase.

By all accounts Adrian Grenier was a stand-up guy, the kind you wouldn’t mind being friends with.  But that raises another point against the deification of celebrities: you wouldn’t pay money to hang out with your friends.  It is a simple fact that one isn’t going to spend hard-earned money to simply sit and talk with one’s friend.  One might spend money on going to an event with a friend or for the dinner they eat while they talk, but never just for the privilege of talking to them.  That’s not what being a friend is all about.  Furthermore, in any celebrity encounter, as noted above, you’re never really getting a friend no matter how friendly the celebrity may seem.  You are just another gratification-hungry individual with some story about how much they love the celebrity in question.  If we’re going on the assumption that celebrities are real people just like you and me, then I bet they get pretty tired of the constant badgering and faux-adoration of the unwashed masses.  Sure, they make money out of pleasing the masses, but it’s a job for them.  It is not who they are.  They get paid because we like them.  If my livelihood was based on the whims of thousands of moody pre-teens I would put on the biggest fake smile you’ve ever seen and kiss so much ass that my face smells like fecal matter just like celebrities do…

These people provide you something tangible, unlike celebrities.

So, after all of this, why do we still partly define ourselves by which celebrities we meet?  It’s not like they’re meaningful encounters that have any true impact on who we are…  Why do we make a big deal out of serving Ryan Gosling coffee at a Starbucks – as one of my classmates did on WebCT?  He likes coffee just as much as 75% of the western hemisphere population…  Why is it a big deal that Paul Davenport and Shooter McGavin – another example of how we really only care about the characters played and not the person themselves – are Kappa Alpha alumni or that Alan Thicke burned down the original lodge?  They’re great people, but Kappa Alpha is so much more than how many column inches have been devoted to your praise…

In my opinion, there’s no rational reason.  I refuse to believe that celebrities are anything more than regular people who happen to make a living entertaining others.  And entertaining is far from the most essential or prestigious profession.  What of the farmer who grows your food?  What of the construction worker who built the house you live in?  If we’re going to idolize someone it might as well be someone who does something essential for our way of life and not someone who provides a secondary service that is only really used as a distraction from the stress of our everyday lives.

So, we need to stop treating celebrities like they are God.  As some militant atheists might tell you, God doesn’t actually exist…

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