Celebrity worship plays the same role as religion for many people. That hypothesis is what psychologists from Southern Illinois University and Sheffield Hallam University recently teamed up to test.
From the 307 Britons who were interviewed in the survey, they found that a person is more likely to exalt a particular celebrity if that individual has lower religious convictions, “even, in some cases, behaving in ways he believes his hero would approve of” (Spectator, Nov. 30, 2002). In summary, the study proved the hypothesis to be true.
In 2000, David Giles, a senior lecturer at the University of Coventry, published a book called Illusions of Immorality. He contends that the reverent feelings of fans toward famous personalities is a form of religious worship.
This societal trend has been in existence since film became popular. In 1957, the French anthropologist Edgar Morin published a book called Les Stars, in which he stated that celebrity worship ranked as a well-established new religion, and its extent and intensity was comparable to Christianity.
The success this “religion” is finding in the Western world speaks volumes about how religion, namely Christianity, falls shamefully short in answering the questions that give life real meaning and purpose.
Magazine and newspaper stands are gorged with covers sporting celebrities, and one has to search long and hard for the periodicals that feature real news. The reason: lack of interest from the public. Most Westerners care more about celebrities, even to the point of worship, than important information about their world. And many analysts are taking notice. “Perhaps the best indication of the dumbing-down of North America is the widespread and growing interest in celebrity,” reported The Edmonton Sun (Nov. 12, 2002). It is hard to miss the evidence of this drift, but it will take more than commentators to turn the tide.