If you make it through this all, you have my gratitude!
In fact, last year, Tom Hanks earned more than you will earn in your entire lifetime. According to Forbes Magazine, Hanks brought in just over 45 million dollars in 2010; and according to The Globe and Mail, doctors take home after accounting for overhead and taxes just roughly over $178,000. In other words, Hanks earned nearly forty times the amount of a doctor last year. Forty times! The difference in between these two salaries is disgusting. The amount of money a celebrity is paid to entertain us—a celebrity who usually contributes nothing beneficial to society, through his or her profession, is mind-boggling and irrational compared to a profession which benefits society greatly—such as doctors who perform life saving procedures to enrich the standard quality of life. We live in a world where nearly everyone and anyone can become a celebrity now because of the modern prevalence of popular technology such as the internet, and the ever-accelerating speed of the media that’s able to expose celebrities not only to us, but to the world. The way the media is able to interact and expose celebrities on such a global scale unfortunately affects the process of who becomes a celebrity, and what they become a celebrity for has degraded heavily over time.
Tom Hanks doesn’t save the lives of people, nor does he routinely perform open-heart surgery. Hanks doesn’t educate children in impoverished nations between filming movies either, nor take on personal plights to end homelessness, starvation or child-abuse to earn his vast wealth. The amount of money a celebrity earns for what they do in comparison to how much a doctor, or any other profession earns, is grossly inflated. A doctor has to spend nearly 10 years in medical school—and spend over a hundred thousand dollars in tuition—to perform surgeries, diagnose illnesses and to save lives to earn the money they’re paid every year, and they deserve the high salaries. Doctors, among other useful professions actually deserve way more. All Tom Hanks has to do is provide the voice of a cartoon cowboy for less than two hours to earn sixty times as much as a doctor does in one year. Is this really justified? Of course not! Toy Story 3 didn’t solve any pressing world issues. A die-hard fan of cinema could argue there’s only one Tom Hanks in our world—and the charismatic ability he brings into all his movies on the silver screen to entertain us on a consistent basis is well worth his salary, but it’s not just him. There’s many other examples of celebrities being paid too much. Kim Kardashian is another prime example of a money-grubber. In her recent divorce, it was estimated by numerous news sources that Kim earned nearly 18 million dollars through sponsorships, exclusive TV shows covering the marriage event, and after-the-divorce interviews and the like. How have we evolved in society to allow this to occur? At what point did we collectively decide that watching an exclusive interview about Kardashian’s marriage was more important than addressing real issues such as our sustainability?
I was briefly watching CNN when I came home today, and they were talking about how the economic situation in America has become so terrible that they were actually considering putting forms of advertising on childrens' report cards. To me, this is relevant news and worth talking about. From there, a few stories later, they went on to talk about the repercussions of Ashton Kutcher and how he put his foot in his mouth on Twitter by saying something "controversial" about the Penn State scandal.
Why is that news? Why was this given airtime on what was one of the most reputable news outlets in the world? Now every day very mundane and stupid things are culled from various social media websites, usually involving what a celebrity said, or did - like Charlie Sheen, where there's much more important things that could have been mentioned. CNN actually reverted and spoke about Charlie Sheen and the future of "Two and a Half Men" while the Tsunami hit Japan. Can you imagine that? If during 9/11 and what was happening then, they periodically cut in to inform us about what Charlie Sheen was doing? Honestly. What's absolutely scary about this is nobody for the most part seems to mind, and has embraced it as every day life. The cocaine that Charlie Sheen did off those two strippers isn't relevant to anyone, but the airtime it receives compared to viable news is sickening.
For years, celebrity news-only shows and magazines like Entertainment Tonight exist(ed), but they're slowly becoming merged into non-entertainment news sources and publications (and taking over content-wise) such as CNN. I would definitely say the ratio of what used to be 100% news (or very close), has dropped dramatically to a 50:50 split between news and celebrity hearsay and gossip.
Why is this so?
What can we do? I have no idea. We're so immersed and bombarded by advertisements every day (we're approximately subjected to 3000 advertisements every day!), there's really no escaping it. You can't turn off your TV because the second you walk outside, you're probably going to be subjected to posters and billboards. If you really wanted to, you could dig a hole and die in it - but that's about it.
Pretty soon everything will have a corporate foot print on it that bears the advertising mark somehow.
Here's an example of a school related homework sheet that was sent back with children:
It was modeled off a fully functional coupon book sent home with children, where they could actually buy items (such as the Alvin and the Chipmunk movie) from it. How many children do you think answered question 4, and then turned right around and asked their parents to buy them that movie? Kids are way too impressionable, and marketing executives know that.
You could argue this is harmless, but I think the longer we continue to argue this IS harmless, the worse it'll become. Here's a great example using the NHL in the 80s. Look at this simple clip:
And then look at this one, still of Rexall place (stadium):
What's the difference? The teams are the same, the stadium is the same, even the announcer from the '80s is the same. Look at the boards, though. It shows what it used to be like, and what it's like now. We functioned fine without massive corporate advertising back then, why can't we anymore?
The answer lies in the mediums in how we communicate with each other in our world, how they’ve been exponentially increasing in terms of target audience, and how they have inadvertently exasperated the problems with the over-glamorization of celebrity status. We aren’t from a world anymore where grandma’s secret apple pie recipe is passed down solely through word of mouth, only after it was copied from an old cook book up in the attic. Everything is exposed on the internet—people, knowledge, literally, everything. We can find that recipe, and for that matter all of grandma’s other secret recipes online through a simple Google search—just like we can find out almost anything about anyone that’s an interest to the public. How much does Madonna weigh? Google it. How old is Mike Tyson? Google it! The availability of what we can access and how quickly we can access it has exponentially increased at a frightening speed. It took just over fifty years for radio to reach an audience of fifty million, and a modest fourteen years for TV to amass the same target audience. It took the internet a mere four years, and Facebook—after it was founded, only 3 years to register its fifty millionth user. Justin Bieber uploaded a song, “Baby” on YouTube less than a year ago—and it already has six hundred million views. The speed of how fast the world can become exposed of the details or life of a celebrity has greatly increased with the internet in the last decade, and a faster more widespread delivery isn’t always a good thing because sometimes the wrong people are promoted and become celebrities, inadvertently or not.
As a result, how celebrity status is obtained has been degraded in our society in the last few decades. Celebrity used to be a word that distinguished entertainers, athletes or other members of the public that stood out from everyone else because of the sheer extraordinary talents they possessed. Hockey superstar Wayne Gretzky springs to mind—in his playing career he single-handedly broke almost all of the previously existing NHL records set by hundreds of men who played before him, and Frank Sinatra, who until possibly the emergence of Elvis, had one of the best singing voices the music industry had ever heard. Celebrities now are created almost overnight through social websites such as YouTube and idolized for having no real explicable talent. A perfect example is a video uploaded there titled, “Sitting On Tha Toilet”. It was originally uploaded by a prankster friend, but features a woman as the title aptly indicates, sitting on a toilet, while constantly saying out loud that she’s sitting on a toilet. This video after being uploaded less than two years ago, has gone on to be viewed almost 40 million times, and has spawned all kinds of merchandise and songs about it. One can purchase online a plethora of trinkets—toilet t-shirts, post cards and even toilet songs off iTunes. Elvis became a celebrity for his deep vocals and mesmerizing lyrics and songs. Elonia (the toilet lady) became a celebrity for sitting on a toilet, while repeatedly saying out loud how she’s sitting on a toilet. This is degradation in its finest form.
It’s been reported recently by The Guardian that Kardashian is earning up to $10,000 per tweet on the social website Twitter—and that’s not even including the money companies are paying her for shamelessly advertising them in her feed for a quick buck. An even quicker glance at her Twitter account reveals all kinds of posts that involve corporations and advertising, and even the poorest paid actor in Hollywood earns multiple times more than the highest paid doctor. The crux of our societies—educators, doctors, police and fire fighters earn a fraction of what they deserve, while athletes, actors and celebrities earn exponentially outrageous amounts, or are paid even more outrageous amounts for frivolous events—such as divorce. We inhabit a world where the fame and fortune of being a celebrity seems to have superseded everything else, including important matters that should be at the forefront of everyone’s mind. More people care about what Kim Kardashian wore for her wedding dress than they do about our very ability to sustain our existence on Earth! This whole situation is made even worse by newfound celebrities such as Elonia, who really, should have never been brought into the spotlight at all. Hundreds of people are becoming famous every day, and very few of them use their status to contribute to society in any way shape or form. They do it for the money and fame. It’s a sad world we inhabit when all we care about now is the details of people in the public eye. By the way, in case you were wondering: Maddonna weighs 110 pounds, and Tyson was born on June 30, 1966—making him 45.