(Isa 53:5) But he was wounded for our transgressions; he was bruised for our iniquities: the chastisement of our peace was upon him; and with his stripes we are healed.
We Christians know to whom that verse refers. But many who don’t know Jesus as Saviour worship ordinary living people called “celebrities”. Although they would vehemently deny it, a significant portion of this hero-worshiping public unconsciously expects to see its celebrities destroy themselves. It’s a repressed desire – worshipers vaguely aware that their adulation is deadly but denying the celebrity’s vulnerability and fallibility. Eventually the celebrity will prove fallible and will often suffer and die from alcohol and drugs in despair caused by adulation, pressure to meet public demands, and outlandishly destructive actions of sycophants. It’s a deadly diversion for a multitude fixated on a human idol. Name of the game: We Love You to Death (LYTD).
The public has the capacity to worship and has a great time doing so at sporting events, rock concerts, award ceremonies and the like. However, the public cannot fully adulate a person without endowing that person’s image with superhuman attributes. The act of worship only satisfies when it can exalt the object of worship. But idolising the image of a person other than God entails superseding, ignoring or denying that person’s humanity, a destructive act. The only truly safe object of worship is the Lord God almighty. Revering anyone other than Him, His Son or His Spirit will eventually cause harm.
In the excitement of worshiping a man-made celebrity, the crowd suppresses negativity. The crowd denies its own envy and suppress the celebrity’s character defects. Any truthful assessment would diminish euphoria. Every thought must be elevated if the crowd is to go with the flow and experience the ecstasy.
However, that which is suppressed at the moment of excitement eventually surfaces when euphoria wears off. In the finish, this means the crowd cannot help but be fascinated when its cherished celebrities ultimately come to grief. Extreme adulation is followed by scape-goating, nit-picking, axe-grinding, back-biting and intimidation. The same public that adulated now includes fanatics who pester, stalk, harass, and terrorize. Death threats are not uncommon; security personnel are required. Fame has its price: ultimately, fame charges the ultimate price.
The most destructive consequence of celebrity worship could be called the “scapegoat syndrome” or “sacrificial-lamb scenario”. All of us Christians know that everyone needs a Saviour and we truly believe that our Lord Jesus died a painful death in order that we, redeemed by His sacrifice, can live guilt/sin-free lives. But it is also true that unbelievers, consciously or unconsciously, need a sacrificial saviour without knowing they have one. We Christians know our Saviour’s crucifixion and our redemption to be historical facts but, unbelievers have the necessity without the facts. For this reason, the idolising public secretly relishes seeing its celebrities sacrificed on the altar of their popularity. A whole industry of fan magazines and other media is devoted to portraying agony (they often call it “shock”) in the lives of famous persons.
Thus the public is spellbound when a celebrity drug addict like Michael Jackson publically crucifies himself in high-def, living-colour, employing exotic plastic surgery, bizarre structured environments, and destructive intimate associations. After his inevitable death, fans continue to perceive Michael as super-human in order to block the obvious horror and shame. Limitless media storage helps maintain the illusion. Meanwhile lives are lost through copy-cat actions. Satan has a good thing going in celebrity suicides. Satan is producer and director of the LYTD show.
The script for LYTD plays out with a cast consisting a) the winning hero b) established celebrities c) the celebrity-worshiping audience and public multitude, d) the media, and e) sycophants, toadies and yes-men. The plot goes like this:
1) For starters, the winning hero is rescued from obscurity and becomes a celebrity. The hero escapes “death” (rejection by the audience, rebuff by experts and elimination from the competition). The winning hero escapes the death of insignificance.
2) The media promise the hero a rich and abundant future life of fame. The multitude feels fulfilled because its worship has resurrected the hero from unimportance.
3) Sooner or later however, the hero reveals human weaknesses.
4) Sycophants defend the hero and gain control through flattery, body-guarding, servitude, supplying drugs, providing sex, and realising fantasy. An army of parasites and toadies meets every need and indulges every whim.
5) The previously worshiping public now envies the hero’s celebrity status. The media expose and invent flaws in the hero’s character. Attack comes when least expected. The hero is off-guard, complacent from adulation. The callow hero makes fatal mistakes. This is the plot-point where the hero becomes a victim, reduced to puerile emotional dependency.
6) While the celebrity loses identity (soul), the myth, already ubiquitous, becomes entrenched. The public is intrigued by the suffering and inspired by the myth – but edified by neither.
7) Particularly when drugs are involved, the victim (former hero) succumbs to a shameful demise.
8) The intransigent public, addicted to idolatry, continues to adulate the myth and fixate on the gory details of destruction while ignoring the cautionary lesson. Thus fame triumphs over reality, stardom over degradation, popularity over obloquy. Satan triumphs over truth.
The game is over. A celebrity has been loved to death by the multitude which now survives to worship another celebrity. I thank God I need not participate in this ritual.
For I determined not to know anything among you, save Jesus Christ, and him crucified. – 1 Corinthians 2:2
Who hath delivered us from the power of darkness, and hath translated us into the kingdom of his dear Son: In whom we have redemption through his blood, even the forgiveness of sins.- Colossians 1:13, 14
Footnote – (The concept of “game” in interpersonal relations was pioneered by psychiatrist Dr. Eric Berne. Games People Play is a bestselling book by Berne that helped introduce his Transactional Analysis to the counselling profession. Since then, over five million copies in forty editions have been sold worldwide. However, the notion of a “celebrity-worship show” is that of the present author and he alone is responsible for any errors in fact or rationality.)