Speech: "Celebrity culture has gone too far" for Leaving Cert English #625Lab

Celebrity culture has gone too far. (2005)

Write a speech in which you attempt to persuade an audience that today’s obsession with the lives of the rich and famous has gone too far.

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Hello Ladies and Gentlemen. My name is Maeve Walsh and I am here today to give you speech in favour of the motion: “Celebrity culture has gone too far.” 

I am going to address this statement using three main points. One, people nowadays have become too obsessed with people they have never even met. Two, the celebrity lifestyle has damaging effects behind its golden façade. And three, current celebrity culture encourages changing what you look like and who you are. (It's an excellent idea to say what your main points are, especially for a debate. The problem is that those points aren't phrased very clearly. What they should have been: One, people have deluded perceptions of celebrities because of social media. Two, being a celebrity is a blessing and a curse. Three, celebrity culture pressures ordinary people into changing how they look and what they think of themselves.)

Now, I myself, like many others, would consider themselves myself quite involved in social media. I would definitely spend a couple hours per day on Snapchat, Facebook or Instagram seeing what my friends are up to or catching up on current affairs. Times have changed since the 80s. This generation revolves around the internet and consequently the booming celebrity culture that comes with it. (It sounds like the author thinks that there were no celebrities in the 80s. The examiner who still listens to Total Eclipse of the Heart may become upset.)

Celebrity culture of the 21st century has reached a climatic point. Everything they say or do can immediately be broadcasted and shared with millions of people through the phenomenon known as social media. Whether a celebrity wants that or not depends, however most celebrities keep their cash flow going through social media. It is reported that some of the Kardashian/Jenner clan make $100,000 per Instagram post. (Celebrities made a lot of money before Instagram. The author's argument is that celebrity culture changed because of social media. So the focus should be on that. No ranting.)

So, what happened last night on ‘Keeping up with the Kardashians’? I’m sure most of you could tell me. But what happened last night in the London Underground? That terror attack? I’m sure some of you don’t even know what I’m talking about. Kim screaming at Kourtney was just too hard to miss in comparison to a child screaming for dear life on the news, after ISIS tried to blow up another subway station.

Society simply aren’t isn't as interested in watching the news as they are watching celebrities. That airy atmosphere of drama just isn’t present in the current affairs of the world. But these celebrities you have such an interest in, you’ve probably never even met them! Their life is so irrelevant to you, but you continue to watch in a zombie faze.

It is bizarre to think that a person could be so interested in another person’s life. Let alone hundreds of thousands of people. Selena Gomez, currently the most followed person on Instagram has 127.2 million Instagram followers. Just think about that. Nearly 130 million people want to see what one ordinary person does every single day. They want to see her clothes, her house, her make-up and more! But why? The only difference between me and her is that she has a talent in acting and music that has allowed her to successfully climb the celebrity tower of fame. I may be equally good at science as she is music, but nobody will ever be that interested in my life.

In my opinion, people today are too interested in celebrity lifestyles. So what if they’re rich? I know you may like to see the flawless things money can buy, gasp at a shocking break up or surprise pregnancy, but in the end these people are just people. No different to me or you. No different to your friend who just broke up with her boyfriend, your cousin who decided to go to the gym or perhaps your sister who just bought a new dress. (Yes, following celebrities is a guilty pleasure, but the author won't make any friends by being preachy. Remember, the question said persuade, not nag. Explain why it's bad or what weakness causes people to be obsessed with it, but just don't preach.)

Although the majority of celebrities initially want their lives on show, eventually this novelty wears off. The more famous a celebrity becomes the more hounded they are by the media. A sad example of this is the poor late Princess Diana. An idol in both the world of activists and fashionistas, the royal eventually met her fate in the hands of the media. This is a scathingly horrifying case of how celebrity culture went too far. It cost a life. And actually, has multiple times before, just not as directly. (The examiner is going to be old enough to remember the story. Three people died in that crash. The author's point that celebrities are ordinary people doesn't gel with only mentioning the celebrity among the victims. This marks the end of the first point. It would be a good idea to say that you're moving on to the second point.)

Suicide rates in celebrities are surprisingly quite high. Every now and then you hear of a beloved actor or musician who just couldn’t take it anymore. As they say, money doesn’t buy happiness.

Initially, new celebrities are ecstatic with the exuberant amount of money they earn. They can buy whatever they like; Lamborghinis, a new house, the latest Apple products and more, only resulting in a tiny dent in their 8-digit bank account.

However, as they soon come to realise, friends and family are difficult to keep a grasp of. Close relations start sponging off them, wanting their money and taking advantage of them. The relationships they once valued start to melt away creating a depression you so often hear about from celebrities themselves.

This is also the case in romantic relationships. You hardly ever hear of a celebrity dating the average Joe. Why is this? It’s because of the esteemed celebrity culture of course. The culture within which the famed elite thrive and date has certain standards. One being only to date each other. This situation has developed due to crazed fans chasing or stalking them, they feel as though they couldn’t possibly have a normal relationship with somebody not like them. Poor. So they date within the borders of millions. (Don't all people date people who are similar to them?)

However, celebrities are too quick at getting into relationships. You hear of famed figures such as Khloe Kardashian marrying basketball star Lamar Odom after two weeks of dating only to divorce him after seven years of a very difficult marriage. Celebrities are too quick at getting into long term relationships and too quick to divorce. But who can blame them? It’s the culture they grew up in. (It's a little ironic that the author is showing extensive knowledge of the very matters she tells the audience to avoid. A transition to the last point is desirable.)

L’Oréal implies pretty clearly that you are going to turn out wrinkly if you don’t fork out for the latest cream. Eh, don’t forget. You’re worth it. Why do people believe this? It’s because of celebrity culture. Celebrities are continuously going under the knife to have the perfect body, using Botox to have the smoothest wrinkle-free face and using technology such as photoshop to remove any slight imperfections that surgery doesn’t. How can we poor mortals live up to this? We can’t. The cheaper alternatives of expensive creams that are actually endorsed by celebrities themselves to get their ‘look’ is the closest we’re going to get. Little do most people know the look they’re striving for isn’t even real. It’s just botox layered with pounds of lavish makeup and a sprinkle of photoshop.

Maybe as a society we have forgotten what it’s really like to just be yourself. The pressure of celebrity culture changes people in a way it shouldn’t. It influences people in a way it shouldn’t. Each and every person should know that they are perfect the way they are. They shouldn’t strive to look like someone or act like someone that society perceives as beautiful.

Watching celebrities prosper and suffer behind the glass screens of technology is something that has only arisen in the early stages of this century. We all want to know what is happening in their lives, when we should really be more concerned with what is happening in ours.

The influence they have on us is remarkable. If they endorse something, we want it. If they wear something, we want it. If they do something, we want to do it too. (Very nice.) However, there is a dark side to their culture that they keep hidden. Something we only see when they finally snap. Celebrity culture is filled with the extremes of good and bad. Millions of dollars? Good. Depression that stems from loneliness? Bad.

Although us average humans with an average house and average pay, watch these celebrities in a wishful trance that we could someday be just like them, in the end we’re better off. Celebrity culture has developed into a metaphorically glorious beach with treacherous waves that could suck you into its dark depths at any moment. It’s just gone too far and it’s not something you want to be part of.

P.S. Here is the Irish Times article from 2005 discussing this paper.

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