Volume 78: Sell-ebrity: The Real Price of Fame

Posted on 02/11/2014


Antoine Dodson

Is this the face of a celebrity?

After last week’s post, I really started looking at those shows and the “characters” they have on them through the microscopic lens of scrutiny. And, as a self-professed critical thinker I asked myself, “What would I do for fame?” What price am I willing to pay for a little notoriety because, in the 21st century, it pays…..well.

Now many of you know I have received training as a mental health counselor so I have the tendency to view the extremes of  society through a pathological spectrum – even those events in which I participate. So, when I ponder the “celebrities” on these so-called “reality” shows, I dusted off my books from grad school to find some sort of scientific solution. This is what I found.

Histrionic personality disorder (HPD) is defined by the American Psychiatric Association as a personality disorder characterized by a pattern of excessive emotions and attention-seeking, including inappropriately seductive behavior and an excessive need for approval, usually beginning in early adulthood. People affected by HPD are lively, dramatic, vivacious, enthusiastic, and flirtatious. People with HPD have a high need for attention, make loud and inappropriate appearances, exaggerate their behaviors and emotions, and crave stimulation. They may exhibit sexually provocative behavior, express strong emotions with an impressionistic style, and can be easily influenced by others. Associated features include egocentrism, self-indulgence, continuous longing for appreciation, and persistent manipulative behavior to achieve their own needs.

Wait a minute! Wait just one minute! Call me crazy, but the above definition seems to describe many of the individuals that find themselves on the very shows that I detest. Excessive emotions. Check. High need for attention. Check. Excessive need for approval. Check. Make loud and inappropriate appearances. Check. Exaggerate their behaviors and emotions. Check. Egocentrism. Check. Self-indulgence. Check. Continuous longing for appreciation. Check. And persistent manipulative behavior to achieve their own needs. Check. Houston, we have a problem, and it’s on TV every week, LOL!

Ok. Ok. I know you’re thinking that I’m just revising last week’s post. Be patient, I’m getting to my point.

What have we learned this far? We have learned that reality “celebrities” have many of the characteristics of someone with Histrionic Personality Disorder. Undiagnosed, of course, but undeniable. At the same time, we are reinforcing their behavior by becoming fascinated by it. I had my readers respond to my post with statements like, “We like to see dysfunctional people so we feel better about ourselves.” True. I admit I have a morbid attraction to watching shows like Intervention, Hoarders, and World’s Dumbest. Nothing makes me laugh harder than to watch a perpetrator being hit with a taser. But…I’m digressing.

The price of us watching these shows is that TV brings a sense of validation to the histrionics. General society begins to emulate the individuals because their lives look exciting when compared to the monotony of our day-to-day activities. I mean, no one wants to see me going to the grocery store or reading to my children or falling asleep on the couch on a random Saturday afternoon – and I’m a pretty entertaining person (in my opinion). No, sane people don’t get ratings. Pathological people do.

So, in exchange for our “entertainment”, we respond by paying them six-figure incomes, renting them fabulous homes, sending them on trips, and following them in droves on social media. And we get copycats. Lots of anonymous copycats. We get fake wannabes that troll for followers and likes. We get a generation of youth that eschew learning and education because we celebrate those who don’t have degrees the most. Our best and brightest are running off to Hollywood in their attempt at landing a pilot or a part on one of these shows because it’s easier and faster and more exciting than going to medical or law school.

The real price of fame is the widening of the gap between our children with realistic dreams and aspirations, and those that want to take a short-cut to stardom. Our youth is spending time trying to become YouTube sensations like Sweet Brown  (33M+ views) and Antoine Dodson (56M+ views); or Social Media starlets instead of reading, writing, and arithmetic. We are paying for it with an overemphasis on entertainment. We are paying for it with a generation expressing an all-or-nothing philosophy. We are paying for it with losses in creativity, genuine human connection, and a desire to see the entire society progress.

My hope for myself and my children is to fortify us against the soul-sucking force of celebrity. I hope we reject the histrionics that characterize the perplexingly popular programs and people. Finally, I hope we understand that, while there’s nothing wrong with becoming or being a celebrity, we just have to be sure the price isn’t too high.

That’s just my three cents…


“Peep my ver-na-cular cuz I don’t know how to act…”