Obsessive celebrity disorder: Analysing the craze behind growing fixation with celebrityhood

Maithili Chakravarthy analyses the craze behind the growing fixation with celebrityhood When a celebrity gets married, there’s just that much more room for a greater peek into their private lives. When real life celebrity couples decide to tie the knot there’s just that much more room for excitement, to know every little detail that tells us about how their stories moved from the big screen to real life. It’s an event that creates room for greater scrutiny and celebrities alike are as indulgent and generous to their fans.

After all, their weddings are an extension of their public persona, how people perceive them and what it would take to keep their uber coolness intact for people to drool over. In 2018 celebrity weddings kept us engaged all year round and also proved to be the bane of our existences. Either you caught every detail, or you were rummaging through social media hunting for deets. Either way, you couldn’t ignore the frenzy for long. It was there, for all to see, all the time.

For instance, there were several videos of the sangeet performances doing the rounds on YouTube and WhatsApp, when Mukesh Ambani’s daughter Isha married Anand Piramal of the Piramal Group last December. The nuggets of news were never-ending as the Ambanis seemed more relaxed about who posted what and what videos went out, posing coolly for the paparazzi cameras stationed outside Antilia permanently. In a timely manner, one was also given information about what Priyanka and Deepika wore to their many, multi-city and country pre- and post-wedding functions.

You knew everything – from how Modi and Priyanka exchanged laughs on stage at the actress’s Delhi reception to who the exes were who did and didn’t show for the two actresses’ weddings. Sometimes, it feels like celeb news has become second nature to society with everyone believing they have the inherent right to know more. Certainly the weddings, their guests, and the poses looked similar because everyone had the same invitees. Bingeing on wedding news became a daily thing with hundreds of newspaper columns dedicated to analysing Bollywood and what happens when it gets married. “The mania behind the coverage of celebrity weddings is much, much more today, compared to 20 years back.

As an industry professional, this trend has been wonderful, as it opens up the wedding planning process of celebrity weddings, with big and small details, to the general public. In earlier times, celebrities had a different public and private persona. Today, these personas are merging, thanks to celebrities sharing more with their fans and the general public, via social media, the paparazzi, and the internet. When we planned Twinkle Khanna and Akshay Kumar’s wedding many years back, it was one of the most private weddings, an extremely intimate event, shared only with family and close friends in attendance, with details about the venue and events shared right before the wedding.

Comparatively, today’s celebrity weddings are a totally different ball game. As with all things in the world, industries evolve, trends change, and the pendulum swings both sides. Today, we are on the other side of the pendulum,” says Gurleen M Puri, who planned the weddings of Akshay and Twinkle and Kareena and Saif along with events for other high profile clients. Not dissuasive of the craze for celebrity news round the clock, Puri says, “We are truly in the information age”. Some, on the other hand, may view the trend as one where the individual’s life is as entwined with a star’s lives as that of his or her next-door neighbour’s.

Unquestionably the pendulum is swinging wildly on the side of insanity – the insatiable urge to be part of strangers’ lives. “It’s a waste of time and energy, because we are not even invited. To be very honest, it is actually their personal life. The people who are so deeply interested in the occurrences of celebrities’ lives honestly don’t have anything better to do. It is usually people below the age of 30 who are interested in the social media postings of the stars. Not others. People above that age group are usually busy and involved in their careers. I like watching Bollywood films but that doesn’t mean I’m necessarily interested in actors’ and actresses’ personal lives. I’m more interested in what the Ambanis are doing for the industry as opposed to events relating to their daughter getting married,” says 31-year-old Kuldeep Desai from Nasik.  

About the wedding that started it all, the Virat-Anushka wedding, says Bhavnesh Sawhney of wedding planning company Wedniksha, “Bollywood and cricket are two big religions in India and Anushka and Virat’s wedding was like the meeting of those two religions, so of course people went insane.”

Aspirations and a skewed sycophancy have usually been at the heart of obsessively trying to know about the stars among people in the country, both today and in the past. Trying to copy a dress, a look and commenting furiously on airport pictures and family photos on Instagram and Twitter, offering two-bit analyses on celeb lives has become a full-time profession for many. “It is like a pre-occupation with pictures, videos and constant updates,” says Dr. Mohit Shah, Consultant Psychiatrist at mental healthcare clinic Unlimited Potentialities.

“It is when people don’t have meaningful relationships in the real world, with their parents, their immediate family and friends that they tend to look for virtual relationships. Families are becoming smaller and some of us look to social media to make friends. People are looking for approval on social media all the time. Man is a social animal, so we look for social attachments and when we are unable to think rationally, instead of focussing on more important aspects of life like our work and careers, we tend to focus on unimportant things such as a negative comment on social media.”

Hence, as we search different hashtags on our various accounts on social media and analyse the lives of others, the adulation showered on a projected dream or an image posted by a celebrity is what makes social media a tricky place for some people. Dr. Shah says that about 40 to 50 % people are adversely and negatively impacted by the omnipresence of social media. Add to that celebrity obsessions and you have entire industries that are created from and feed off that frenzy. However, it’s just delirium at the end of the day.

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