I prided myself on not being star-struck, carrying on in an obsequious way to someone just because they are famous. I have watched people nearly lose their minds when they see a celebrity, even if it is only the local news anchor. In the 1960s and 1970s, women passed out screaming for the Beatles. Underwear flying toward stages seemed so ridiculous to me, as I always knew that I would keep a level head, for they are human beings like me.
To avoid being hurt, celebrities like Michael Jackson and Elvis Presley before him, had to put on a panoply of protection, including a coterie of security guards. I thought that the tendency to try to touch a celebrity or to get an autograph to keep illuminated that many people wished to be famous and have extraordinary lives, even if only precariously through their momentary encounter with a celebrity.
I have found this to be the case in some churches, too. We attended a church when Douglas and I first got married where the pastor was so popular that he had bodyguards that accompanied him from his office to the sanctuary. No one could get near him to even ask a biblical question. The bodyguards sat on the first pew, ensuring that no one went near the pastor during the services.
After church, he could be seen surrounded by members for a quick minute, and the lucky few that got to speak to him seemed to think they had been granted super-Christian status because he had deigned to say a word to them. We did not stay there long, for we thought that the people treated the pastor as if he was God, a form of idol-worship prominent in this day of television evangelism and celebrity preachers.
I just believed that people needed to get a life, meaning to stop bottling up their own insecurities and start seeing themselves as just as great as the people they were willing to go to any lengths to simply glimpse from afar. So, you could have knocked me over with a feather when I exhibited the same behaviors when I had the occasion to speak to a celebrity.
I was working for the telephone company, and one of my jobs was the installation of new service that spanned more than one city. In this case, the service was an Atlanta number to be used in a small town in Georgia.
Once the service was in, I had to speak to the customer to ensure they were satisfied. On this day, the person that came to the line stated that he was Ben Jones, the guy who played Cooter in the Dukes of Hazzard television show, one of my favorite shows. In the blink of an eye, I was transformed from a calm professional performing my job to crazed fan!
I said, “Oh, Cooter, I love the show. You are great on it! I cannot believe that I am talking to you!” He was gracious and responded, “Come on down here and see us sometimes!” OMG! He sounded just like he did on the show! The way I was carrying on you would have thought that he actually knew me and that I was going to become his long-lost friend!
My colleagues were stunned at my behavior, with some laughing at me and others thinking how unprofessional I was being. I finally asked him about the service, and he was satisfied. I signed off, embarrassed that I could act like “those” people who get so excited about talking or seeing a celebrity. I would have argued you down that I was different.
But, I believe that people need to believe that there are greater things in life than their ordinary lives, so they try to find joy through worshiping other people, those who are famous or nearly so. In Acts 10, when Peter was summoned to tell the Good News to Cornelius and his household, Cornelius thought of Peter as more special than himself, so he fell at Peter’s feet to worship him. But in verse 26, Peter said, “Stand up! I’m a human being just like you!”
Kudos to Peter for realizing their shared humanity and not expecting anyone to worship him! This is what I have remembered since that moment when I lost it over another human being. I don’t understand the whole Kardasian/Jenner phenomenon and how they became celebrities, but their fame and wealth reveal that people hunger and thirst to be a part of something or someone supposedly bigger than themselves.
As a society, we must find ways to validate every man, woman, and child, to make each person in our lives and those persons whom we interact with each day feel like stars in their own lives. We must remind people that celebrities are human beings just like them, with their own anxieties and insecurities.
Then, we must dedicate our lives to offering Christ Jesus to them, for in John 6:35, He states, “I am the bread of life. Whoever comes to me will never be hungry again. Whoever believes in me will never be thirsty.” Now, He is a real superstar!