Why Do People Idolize Celebrities?

Updated April 17, 2017

Celebrities are constantly under the media spotlight and are recognisable to millions of people. However, for some people these celebrities are more than a television persona. They have become their idols, their role models or an example of what they want to become in life, despite never having met them, let alone talked to them. This is a common phenomenon, especially in the era when television and the Internet have brought celebrities into everyone's house.

Fame and Riches

The everyday life of celebrities seems very exciting compared to the dull routine of "ordinary" people. For example, celebrities don't take the bus, they don't look for discounts at the supermarket and do not wait at the hairdresser's for a haircut. It is the contrast between ordinary life on one hand and the extraordinary reality of rich and famous celebrities that attracts people. For this purpose, fans copy celebrities' behaviour and antics in a bid to become like their famous and wealthy idols.

Genuine Appreciation

People also idolise celebrities because they may genuinely appreciate their skills and achievements in their field. For example, sports heroes or celebrity chefs can attract fans not because of their looks and crazy antics, but because they achieve a triple-double in every NBA game or because they can create a delicious meal under pressure. For this reason, people aspire to become as good on the court or the kitchen and this is why they idolise them.

Narcissistic Idealism

According to researcher Heinz Kohut, as reported by Jared Maloff, Psy.D., "idolisation is a developmentally appropriate response to being a child" and "adolescents engage in idolisation in order to compensate for the narcissistic injury of the inevitable failure of one's parents to live up to their child's lofty needs and desires." This means that since parents are not the superhuman model children aspire to, they turn their focus to people living up to their larger-than-life expectations: celebrities.

Peer Pressure

Peer pressure plays an important role in this process, as people who may be indifferent about a certain celebrity are "forced" to learn more about the person to not to be rejected by their friends. As Angie Farish from Augusta State University mentions, when her niece's friends started an Antonio Banderas fan club, she also joined the group. Even though she wasn't a huge fan, she ended up owning a great deal of Banderas memorabilia. Farish concluded that some teenagers become fans so that they are not excluded from the group.

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About the Author

Tasos Vossos has been a professional journalist since 2008. He has previously worked as a staff writer for "Eleftheros Tipos," a leading newspaper of Greece, and is currently a London-based sports reporter for Perform Sports Media in the United Kingdom. He holds a Bachelor of Arts in communication and media from the University of Athens.