Definitions of a Hero and Celebrity
A hero refers to an individual with distinguished qualities or abilities especially courage that are admired and valued by members of a particular community or society (Raglan, 2003). Most heroes are respected and admired for their extraordinary deeds in the society, for instance, a hero may be a warrior who saved the community from its enemies during war. A female hero is called a heroine (Raglan, 2003). A celebrity is a person who is very famous and well-known (Baeck, 2009). Celebrities usually attract higher degrees of public enthrallment or fascination. Celebrities also have considerable influence in the media. Most celebrities are people who have outshined and excelled in specific fields such as sports, music, television shows and acting.
Similarities and Differences between Heroes and Celebrities
The two major similarities between heroes and celebrities are the attraction of considerable public fascination, appeal or admiration and possession of exceptional or unique talents, skills or abilities that make them outshine in the society. In addition, both heroes and celebrities have substantial influences in the society.
The first difference between heroes and celebrities is that the successfulness of a hero is usually a communal victory whereas the successfulness of a celebrity is a personal achievement. Secondly, celebrities usually attract higher levels of media coverage than heroes. Thirdly, although most celebrities attract media attention because of their success in particular fields such as sports and music, some celebrities attract media attention through extravagant lifestyles and accumulation of huge wealth. On the other hand, heroes usually attract media coverage and public fascination only for good deeds done to the society. Fourthly, celebrities are often people currently living whereas heroes are often people who lived in the past. Most heroes are legends who are dead. Fifthly, some celebrities are known for their misdeeds in the society whereas all heroes are known for their good deeds in the society. Last but not least, celebrates may be known worldwide or within a specific country or community whereas heroes are known within communities. In some rare cases, heroes enjoy worldwide recognition (see Appendix I below).
Examples of heroes are Rosa Parks, Nelson Mandela and Marin Luther King Jr. (Allison & Goethals, 2011). Examples of celebrities in the entertainment industry include the talk-show TV host Oprah Winfrey, hip-hop rappers 50 Cent and Jay-Z and singer Lady Gaga and in the sport industry include footballer David Beckham, golfer Tiger Woods and basketball-player LeBron James (Wilkins, 2012; Durkee, 2012).
Criticism of Hero and Celebrity Phenomena
In my view, the hero and celebrity phenomena are not bad for the society. However, extreme public fascination for heroes and celebrities would be unsuitable for the society because it leads to idolatry.
Importance of a Hero
It is important to have heroes in the society because they depict admirable and uniting qualities of a community. Fictions and tales about heroes are usually used to show the traditional or cultural values and beliefs of a community. They are used to persuade young people to develop desirable characteristics such as bravery and courage. Heroes often as act as uniting symbols in the society. They also represent values and themes of the society.
Cult of Celebrity
The cult of celebrity refers to a widespread attention and significance towards famous individuals in the society. It is a situation in which people become extremely fascinated about a celebrity to the extent of idolizing him or her. Examples of individuals who have been held as cults of celebrity include Nicole Richie, Charles Allen and Paris Hilton (Barnes, 2010). Pop singer Justin Bieber is also believed to be a celebrity cult among teenagers in Canada and the United States. Cult of celebrity involves excessive praise and sycophancy of a celebrity.
Cult of celebrity comes from excessive media exposure and extreme popularity and influence of an individual in the society. It usually starts by developing among peers of the celebrity before spreading to other people in the society. In my view, it is no bad for fans to fascinate celebrities. However, extreme fascination that leads to cult, worshipping or idolatry is not good and should be strongly condemned in the society.
Why Cultures Reach Out For Heroes and Celebrities
Cultures usually reach out for heroes and celebrities in order to share the successes they have achieved in life. In most cases, the heroes and celebrities act as role models for current and future generations in the society. The society also uses heroes to pass on their cultural values to future generations.
The main thing that people gain from interacting with heroes and celebrities in the society is personal affiliation and boosting of self-esteem. Interacting with heroes also helps us develop specific attributes such as courage and determination that enable us overcome certain challenges in life. We also gain self-confidence by believing that we can also achieve in life just as the heroes and celebrities have achieved. According to Baeck (2009), some people also like to be associated with celebrities in order to become famous and publicly known.
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