Why Celebrities Shouldn't Be Privilaged
Updated: Aug 22, 2023
Even with the major irrelevance of nobility, who used to manage the world by monarchies and oligarchies, it seems that today an alternative replacement has been created by humanity and by social media's popularity. It's a "nobility" so idolized that it can literally create "cults" of followers, in both a literal and usual sense of the word (AKA, people that support common franchises).
Most will probably not be remembered historically, due to the the swift changes of contemporary relevancy. Others might find themselves victims of their own misdeeds, their legacies forever stained by their moral sins, and be deemed infamous beyond redemption.
Regardless, it is safe to assume that this contemporary social elite class, is probably one of the most privileged socio-economic statuses on the planet today, only second to global leaders and national leaders and their families. Our recent ancestors used to call them "idols", "rock stars", "legends", and so on, mostly for their talent in either acting, music, or any other type of mainstream entertainment fields. However, a more-general term for this new type of pseudo-nobility and pseudo-royalty is "celebrities".
(Note: It is possible to even become a celebrity in intellectual fields such as philosophy. Jordan Peterson is considered very much to be a philosophy icon/idol, etc.)
We have come to the days where the worth of a "celebrity" is not measured by their merit or by their cultural contribution to humanity, but mostly by their amount and engagement of followers, by their fame, and by their ability of grabbing our attention to the point of greater relevance.
With the increasing dominance of social media in our lives, anyone has the potential to become a celebrity at one point or another, long term or temporarily. Anyone with a computer and/or a phone who is appeling enough to attract a large audience of virtual followers can, in a short period of time, become so "important" that their content has the potential to affect the lives of countless people worldwide, regardless of the target audience. And of course, that affect can be monetized.
The "importance" of their influence is all well and good, but in my opinion, the problem arises when that importance gives them privileges no other person would have. This problem only reinforces the sense of pseudo-nobility in their individual lives and in society as a whole.
I also call it a psudeo-nobility because nobility is usually heredity. Contemporary celebrities/psuedo-nobilities are, however, made rather than born. AKA, gain by the merit of appeal. They do so through content creation. And in contemporary times, it matters less, unfortunately, the quality or substance of a content piece. What matters, in this competitive world, is attention-grabbing. But, I digress.
The following issue has inspired me to write this article and share it with the world: It happened in my native country of Israel. A youth celebrity by the name of Noa Kirel has recently been recruited to the IDF, the Israeli military (2020). However, due to her status as a "talent", she was given several privileges that no other recruit has, simply because she is a celebrity. These privileges include "finding specific ways to maintain her and her boyfriend's fame while in the military". By being a celebrity, you may be treated differently even by your own national army, all because you have a significant amount of fame compared to others.
Those who support her privileged status as a celebrity claim that the fact that she actually joined the IDF can serve as an inspiration to other school graduates to enlist, at a time when many people are trying to avoid the Israeli compulsory military service of usually three years for males and two years for females. They claim that she could have chosen to avoid her enlistment like some other celebrities did when the time for enlistment came for them.
However, giving someone a privileged status simply because they are extremely popular and well-known, in a democratic country that is supposed to treat everyone equally under the law, can theoretically be considered as support of the country to the foundation and empowerment of the contemporary pseudo-nobility. It is ironic because truly demoratic societies would not give social privilages to specific demographics. Such privilages belonged to true nobilities of old, and were one of the ways that made them distinguished from the "common folk".
By letting celebrities be above the law where they should not, the law can lead to the rise of a new type of nobility/royalty. This future type is no longer "pseudo", but is official and written in black and white. It creates a normalized sense of superiority and might where such a sense should not exist in a society that should treat everyone as no worse and no better than any other citizen and/or resident. Much less so by social status, luxurious or otherwise.
Returning to the arguments made by those who support Kirel's privileged status within the Israeli military: We should indeed think about what image she portrays to people by actually taking part in the military, where compulsory service is enforced by law with several exceptions (like those who have ASD/Asperger's).
What should we think of this? Should we think that having more followers on social media, a TV show, a public performance, and so on, deserve to give us privileges that the rest of the citizenry don't have? Should we use renown as a means to an end, such as being exempt from certain activities and features in society, purely because of our popularity?
Should we try to become famous not for the sake of being famous, but as a way to skip over obligations that are considered by any other citizen?
I argue that the worth of a person should not be measured by whether or not they are a celebrity, nor by whether or not they have an immense number of followers or otherwise. In a world devoid of nobility-class elements, the worth of a person would be best measured by merit and productivity; merit and productivity that exist regardless of their popularity. As such, there are jobs that are far more productive than other jobs that are luxurious in comparison (like working in a gaming facility).
Should humanity ever come to a point where a new nobility is born out of social media, let us not forget the logical fallacy known as the ad populum fallacy – the fact that more people support something or someone does not make them more right than someone else. Democracy indicates who is fit to lead in the eyes of the people. It does not mean that the majority are the most reliable source on what is true and what's not.
In conclusion, in a democratic entity, even if you are a well-known person with a celebrity status, you should in no way be above the demands of the law just because of your national or global renown. You are still a citizen, or at least a resident, in a country that should grant privilages that are granted by fame. After all, no one needs to be above the law in a proper democracy.