Tuesday, May 01, 2007

Celebrity and Athlete Worship

Link edited on May 6, 2007.

For the past little while I’ve been reading In Praise of Idleness, a collection of Bertrand Russell’s social topic essays. It was first published in 1935, and what strikes me is how much of what he said still applies to present day North America, especially the US, though we Canucks have picked up some of these habits.

The habits I’m speaking of are overvaluing athletes and celebrities, while undervaluing intellectuals. Russell notes, in the tenth essay of his book, Modern Homogeneity, how the scientific community is viewed as elitist for its requirement of professional training, yet such elitism is common and lauded when it comes to athletes. This trend has been noticed by professors to the present day.

The enormous salaries of athletes, second only to business administrators, are testaments to this undue worship. Sports, rather than a new idea or discovery, are almost always the topic of conversation in most households.

Of course, along with sports, accompanies gossip over the trivial details of celebrities’ lives. The majority of youth, rather than reading about history or science, waste countless hours going over the trivialities of celebrities’ lives.

If the majority of youth spent as much time keeping up to date on science or current affairs as they do following celebrities’ lives or the scores of sports, we’d have informed and competent future voters.

To sum up, celebrity and athlete worship generally encourages anti-intellectualism, through its overemphasis on personalities as opposed to ideas.

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