1st place $50
By Angel D. Mancia, Jefferson HS (Los Angeles)What is the definition of a celebrity to you? To me, a celebrity is a person who made it to the top and never forgot where they came from. Someone who uses their resources to give back to the people who made them famous and wealthy. A celebrity is someone who can compare himself or herself to the average person and relate to the situations that they go through. Someone who was truly a celebrity to me was Tupac Shakur (R.I.P.). Whenever I hear today’s music, where they talk only about drugs, having sex with different girls every night and their cars with 22-inch rims, I listen to one of Tupac’s CDs and relate to his songs. He talks about his difficult childhood, not having enough in life and all the problems his family went through. That is what people from where I live in South Central can relate to.
Whenever I see magazines such as Star with headlines saying "Hilary Duff down to 100 pounds! Read all about it!" I ask myself why people care about things like that. I have better things to care about—such as doing my work in school and looking forward to graduating next year—than wasting my time reading about some celebrity’s personal issues. So why is society obsessed with celebrities? My opinion is that people wish they had the "celebrity life," a life where they can have anything they could ever want, fame throughout the world and the most expensive things money can buy.
Teens are being affected even though they do not know it. I have heard girls saying that they are too fat and wish they were as skinny as Paris Hilton or other celebrities who have lost weight and are really thin. Teens in urban areas are influenced by rappers and dress, talk and act like them, even though they won’t admit it.
One thing that gets me mad is this magazine called People, yet it shows only celebrities! They hardly ever show or write about the lives of everyday people and the hardships they go through just to make ends meet. If it is called People, should it not feature all kinds of people—rich and poor, young and old, from different races, celebrity and non-celebrity? That is what I would change if I were in control. I would show the positive side of the Latino and African-American youth living in areas where there are gangs, sex and drug activities. I would show the country these hard workers trying to get a better life.
My answer is yes. We are too obsessed with celebrities, people who care only about themselves and will not do anything to help the less fortunate. Of course, there are some exceptions such as Angelina Jolie, who does contribute her time to help out people in third-world countries. So I say, instead of trying to know about celebrities’ lives, spend your time in your community to make it a better place. Instead of caring about them, be a celebrity in your community.
2nd place $30
By Malcolm Parker, Mayfair HS (Lakewood)
Hundreds of camera flashes, the paparazzi is watching with baited breath until suddenly the famed star emerges out of the sleek, black limousine. Everyone’s attention is glued to the star as he or she prances on the enchanting red carpet. The next day the star will be gracing tons of magazine covers being featured on the Best and Worst Dressed lists. Once these magazines hit the shelves, everyday people will hastily snatch them up at grocery stores, gas stations, or when a person is very anxious about celebrities, at their home when they receive their prized Us Weekly or People the next morning.
This craze for the latest on America’s most coveted people in Tinsel Town has swept people up everywhere, especially in the Los Angeles area. So does America need to focus this attention somewhere else? Is our society, dare I say, obsessed with pop culture? My answer happens to be an uncertain yes and no. No, because as American people we’ve always embraced pop culture, which happens to be a part of the "American Dream." We can’t help but look at the countless television commercials, advertisements on billboards and magazines that these stars grace. Yes, because some people happen to believe the people living this "American Dream" are larger than life. Most teenagers need to realize that these celebrities are mortal just like us. They were conceived from a mother just like us, and the only thing that separates them from us is that they’re everywhere! So of course we’re going to be somewhat distracted. But too much distraction from school and too much obsession with celebs can lead to poor grades. This is where the "obsession of celebrity" can have a drastic negative effect.
If I were in control, I would feature more "real" people, not touched-up people, in ads. I also believe that celebrities who are more authentic with their image like Jennifer Lopez, Beyoncé and Alicia Keys are the stars that most teenagers identify with, unlike celebs like 50 Cent, Britney Spears or Paris Hilton, who most teenagers like myself believe only make for entertaining gossip (like Britney’s baby with Kevin Federline). I do not follow celebrities who lead a partying life like Paris Hilton, mainly because it is information that I certainly won’t need 20 years from now. I do believe more people should follow celebs who embrace a positive message like Oprah Winfrey, Angelina Jolie, U2, Green Day, Celine Dion and Jamie Foxx. I would make sure stars like these were published on the cover of People every week. Not because of the people they date but because of the positive things they promote and embrace. These celebrities and more helped promote aid for victims in two big tragedies in 2005: Hurricane Katrina and the Southeast Asian tsunami. I believe this revolution would embrace the fact that celebrities are just as normal as us, so we can achieve the same greatness they’ve accomplished.
3rd place $20
By Flori Martinez, Glen A. Wilson HS (Hacienda Heights)
We live in a world where following celebrities is better than community service, in a world where reading a Teen People is better than reading a book. We think about celebrities because we want to be celebrities. We talk and learn about them because we want to feel closer to them. So the question is, are we too obsessed? Of course! Why, might you ask?
Well, who knows? Every person has a different reason to like these "role models." What I can tell you are my obsessions. For me it’s a little different. I don’t follow Paris Hilton or Hilary Duff.
I follow bands: From Linkin Park to Interpol, Incubus to A Static Lullaby, it’s all good. It started with a simple crush on Linkin Park around fifth grade. Later it grew to a wall full of pictures, then a concert, and as time went by, I joined the LPU (Linkin Park’s fan club) and ended up meeting them.
This obsession grew to other bands. I spent summers behind the computer for six or seven hours visiting Web sites and message boards, reading online band journals and listening to music. For me, it’s a way to feel normal. That seems ironic because I’m reading and collecting pictures of guys I have never met, but in some weird way I feel like I know them through their music. I would do anything to meet my favorite bands or get something from them.
How far have I gone? Well, I go to concerts and try to get as close as I can, but the closest I have ever gotten was at the 2004 KROQ Almost Acoustic Christmas. I was in the pit. I had snuck in a camera and the whole night I tried to take as many pictures as I could. During the second act, which was one of my favorite bands, The Used, I tried so hard to get their attention. Toward the end of their set, the lead singer started throwing all sorts of items into the crowd. I jumped and jumped and finally he looked at me. He had nothing else to give me but the candy in his mouth! It was amazing! He threw it at me and gave me thumbs up after I caught it. I keep it in a ziplocked baggie with the ticket I wrapped it in. I also have all their pictures in a special box and constantly look up stuff about them.
I guess I do this because it’s a way to escape my life and forget all the stress. I think obsession is healthy if you know how to have fun with it and don’t get too serious. I laugh and make fun of myself for the stuff I do but I know when to respect their privacy. When I got my hands on the phone number of one of the members of The Used, I didn’t call him. I try to respect what is "personal," such as families, girlfriends and friends. That’s none of my business so why should I read about it?
Nowadays, I spend an hour researching new bands and my favorite ones. But no matter what, I still feel like a strong fan because it doesn’t matter how obsessed you are or how much you know about their lives. Knowing the reason why their work inspires you, and how that can help you succeed and maybe have their type of success in your future, is what’s important.