Under the Influence: Students consider impact of celebrity decisions and actions

THE RIHANNA EFFECT: Tyler McDuffy, Hollywood Hounds anchor and junior, holds a shirt of Rihanna. McDuffy said the media affects how he expresses himself. DIVYA ANNAMALAI / PHOTO

THE RIHANNA EFFECT: Tyler McDuffy, Hollywood Hounds anchor and junior, holds a shirt of Rihanna. McDuffy said the media affects how he expresses himself. DIVYA ANNAMALAI / PHOTO


Celebrities influence many people in our generation, and according to a Newsweek poll, 77 percent of Americans believe that celebrities have too much of an influence on teenagers—particularly girls. The effect is especially evident in their appearance and attitudes. Sophomore Kathryn Wolfert said one reason for this is that the United States is a melting pot where celebrities have an influence across the board, whether it be a musical or political influence.

Some celebrities’ influences can be measured by their sponsorship of products. For example, Beyoncé uploaded a picture of her Apple iWatch to Instagram a week before it came on sale, which caused many of her fans to pre-order it.

Psychology teacher Michael O’Toole said, “Generally, (people) like to look towards others that they either aspire to be like or find attractive, or (if) they have some kind of special ability.” Screen Shot 2015-05-19 at 12.30.41 PM

Regarding the iWatch, he said that it would have sold out regardless of celebrity influence.

“A lot of people want to emulate (celebrities) very badly, and if they see these people pushing a certain product, they think that they have this connection to rule over material possession to someone they ascertain to be,” he said.

Tyler McDuffy, Hollywood Hounds anchor and junior, said he agrees with this viewpoint.

“I think that a watch that does many things won’t change who I am as a person or what I like, so to me I think that kids out there shouldn’t technically have to look at Beyoncé or any other celebrity out there that’s doing things or wearing things like (the iWatch),” he said.

Many trends fade out within a few months due to people realizing that they’re not worth it.

“I do believe that many celebrities out there do have to make something new in order to get something back. (For) many celebrities out there, I feel like in order to get people to look at them more, they have to create more drama, and they have to publicize it and use the media in order to get people to actively look at them and see them,” McDuffy said.

O’Toole said that there are more important things in life than celebrities that people can learn from, but it’s an easier, quicker solution to turn to celebrity actions for conversation.

Nonetheless, celebrities have a big impact on society, and the Internet and TV being on 24/7 only serves to make it easier to follow them.

Screen Shot 2015-05-19 at 12.30.28 PMO’Toole said, “We want to emulate (celebrities), and they’re so prevalent in our lives that they’re being shoved in our faces 24/7, and that’s what we aspire to be, and we’re told that you have to be beautiful, you have to be talented. If not, we’re going to follow people who are.”

McDuffy said the media blows a lot of trends out of proportion and that it controls people.

Wolfert said, “I think (people) mimic celebrities because they don’t know what else to do for their culture because they can’t think for themselves—what they want—so they have to look to someone else to figure out what they want.”

The inspiration people get from celebrities brings awareness to things that they may not have been aware of or may not have cared about before.

O’Toole said, “It’s not a bad thing if you can flourish, or sometimes you can find other people who share your interests, and hopefully it blossoms yourself in relationship with those people rather than continuing what you believe to be this intimate relationship with this pop star who if you actually met them probably want nothing to do with.

“Because of the current capitalist society, people can focus on other things rather than survival. People are looking for other things to occupy themselves with. (People) aren’t as interesting or they don’t think that they are so they kind of gravitate towards someone that they want to be like or think they want to be like.”

Celebrities can manipulate the way people feel they should fit in. Some of its effects brainwash people, which gives them the delusion that something’s real when in reality, it’s not.

McDuffy said, “It’s like if you don’t look this way, or if you don’t fit this certain image, well you’re not going to fit in, and in modern day times, it shouldn’t be about the way you look or the way you act or talk or anything like that. It should just be the way you are as a person: how nice you are, how kind you are and how you put yourself out there.”

Although this may be a negative aspect of celebrity influence, according to McDuffy, a positive effect is that celebrities can motivate people to be the best person that they can possibly be depending on what they are promoting or what they are selling to other people.

Wolfert said that people should be accepting of pop culture in some way, but should not be completely ignorant of it or totally immersed in it.

McDuffy said, “I just think that you should always just stay true to yourself. Never change for anybody, never make yourself feel like you should change because of someone else. I feel like we as people should stick together and just be as one and not have to do certain things to fit in or be this certain way to produce in this world. Having your own sense of yourself and just being comfortable with yourself is very important.”

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