Due to popular demand (ok, I had two requests, but still), here is my speech that I presented at the Rostrum State Final. It’s not my greatest piece of work ever, as it was written partly at midnight and partly in the car on the way to the competition, but whatever.
As the first female Prime Minister in Australia’s history, Julia Gillard will have an immense influence not only over the youth and citizens of today, but over those of years still to come. As she got sworn in on Thursday, she allowed a new chapter to be added to our history books, and has given us an ‘I remember exactly where I was when’ moment to tell our grandchildren in years to come. But for the teens of today, there are a group of people out there who have more influence and power than all the politicians of the world combined. I am, of course, talking about the illusive breed of humans known as the celebrity.There is a video on youtube of a three year old girl crying hysterically because she loves Justin Bieber. The video has received over eleven million hits, and caught the attention of Justin himself, who then spent the day with the toddler and her family. Although young, and most likely staged, in the video, the little girl exhibits all the classic symptoms of the newest mental illness taking the teen world by storm; celebrity worship syndrome.A relatively new disorder, sufferers of CWS believe they have a strong, undeniable connection with the object of their desire. That the connection goes above and beyond the levels of normal star-fan relationships, and has hit a personal level. They believe they truly understand their idol on a level that most others don’t get, and although they may have only met them fleetingly, if at all, they believe that they are destined to spend the rest of their lives together. In it’s most extreme cases, it turns in to fully-fledged stalking, with the, usually female, sufferers going to extents such as camping outside stars houses, or in the case of Robert Pattinson, best known for his portrayal of teen-vampire Edward Cullen in the hit twilight saga, having girls cut their necks and beg him to turn them into vampires.Celebrities influence us in everything we do; from the movies we watch, to the clothes we wear, to the morals and habits we pick up in our lives. After the Jonas Brothers, Miley Cyrus, Demi Lovato and Selena Gomez, four of the biggest teen stars of our time, all revealed they wear purity rings and are abstaining from sexual activity until marriage, there was a rise in the sale of purity rings and the membership levels of groups such as True Love Waits of up to 30% in America*.
While celebrity obsessions have been around as long as the stars themselves, a point which can be proven by watching videos from Beatles concerts in the sixties where hysterical girls are shown throwing themselves at the young musicians, the rise of the technological era has led to a new level addiction. Whilst the glitzy and glamourous world of the celebrity was once only able to be reached via longing-filled day dreams, it’s now accessible at the click of a button. In years gone by you were considered a fan if you knew your favourite singers birthday. Nowadays, as social networking sites such as twitter continue to increase in popularity, you can learn absolutely everything about your newest celebrity crush in real-time. And everything is not an understatement. Stars have been known to tweet everything from what they had for dinner, to information about their careers, to things, and pictures, we just really didn’t want to see.Fifty years ago, if you were an actor, you were known for your role in the latest movie to hit the silver screen. If you were a singer, you were known for the number of records you sold and packed concerts you performed in. You would go to work, do your job, go home and lead a relatively private life. It could be argued that while the celebrities of today have luxuries such as numerous mercedez benz and mcmansions in cities all over the world, the most basic luxury of them all, that of privacy, is one that is denied to them. No longer are the rich and famous known for their job titles; in fact, it’s more common of late to recognize a starlet for their newest sex-tape scandal or stint in rehab due to alcoholism, eating disorders or drug abuse than it is for their actual day job. It doesn’t matter if Brad Pitt starred in an oscar winning movie; he and Angelina are rumoured to be adopting another two children by the years end; and that’s what the youth of today care about.Of course, as every action has an equal and opposite reaction, there are bound to be downsides to this new-found knowledge.Miley Cyrus famously deleted her twitter account late last year after feeling like she was living under a constant microscope. This hasn’t stopped her from avoiding the social-networking spotlight, however, just last week celebrity-blogger Perez Hilton caused immense controversy when he tweeted a picture of the seventeen year old star getting out of a car…without underwear on. An uproar ensured, but Hilton claimed he was just giving his millions of daily viewers what they wanted; dirt on their favourite celebs. As humans today we are no longer content with the knowledge that, as a person, Miley sometimes doesn’t have underwear on; we need the photographic evidence. It is impossible for most teens alive today to just like a celebrity. They have to know everything from who their kindergarten teacher was to how they met their best friend. With the rise of teen stars such as the Jonas Brothers and Taylor Swift, millions of young people around the world have found role models and celebs they can relate to, but in doing this, they blur the lines between ‘famous person I’ve never met’ and ‘future best friend or husband’.It’s a vicious circle, celebrities demand privacy and breaks from the constant scrutiny of their lives and yet, without this publicity, they would cease to exist. A celebrity is no longer an ‘actor’ or a ‘singer’, the term now refers to a famous person. One who is not only in our favourite movies or behind the songs we blast on our iPod, but who is on the cover of all our favourite magazines, week in and week out. Who’s face is plastered all over gossip blogs. Who’s tweets fill our timelines, letting us know exactly where they are at any given moment, so we, and the paparazzi can find and follow them.The rise in technology and television has also lead to a new breed of celebrity; reality tv stars and those who are famous for being famous. The children of celebrities from yesteryear also belong to this group of elite socialites who devote their lives to staying in the limelight. Whether this involves having the paps on speed dial, a la Spence Pratt and Heidi Montag, or revealing personal and shocking things via twitter, like Tila Tequila, these young men and women will stop at nothing to keep their faces on the front page of the gossip magazines. Negative or not, they, better than anyone, have grasped the any publicity is good publicity ideal, and fully realize that without the media, and the obsessive fans, they would be no-one. Pondering whether this is true is as useless as questioning whether it was in fact the chicken or the egg that came first. As long as there has been fame, there has been publicity, and as long as there has been publicity, there has been fame.For the teens of today, celebrity is a drug just as potent and lethal as any pill or injection. The media and internet are the dealers, and it’s equivalent of getting high is finding out the deepest secrets of the rich and famous. It is debatable, however, as to whether celebrity is a drug of the deadly form, like heroin or ecstasy, or whether is an antibiotic, benefitting teenagers and potentially allowing them to develop and mature into adults more aware of the world. Something only dangerous when overdosed upon, which then leads to the serious side-effect of Celebrity Worship Syndrome.While thinking of celebrity obsession as an actual, and serious, mental illness seems almost laughable, it’s a thought that needs to stay in our minds. You can become addicted to celebrites much like you can become addicted to a drug, but as access to them is, slightly easier, and more legal, quitting cold turkey is an impossible task. Giving up your dreams of marrying Taylor Lautner or Justin Bieber may seem like the end of the world, but according to little Cody from the youtube video, she’s crying because she knows Justin Bieber loves her back, and we all know guys, celebrity or not, are never worth tears.
That was longer than I thought it was going to be. If you actually read it all, you deserve a medal. It’s probably not as good as when you hear it spoken, but who cares. Oh, and if there are spelling/grammatical mistakes, forgive me. I memorise speeches so I don’t really worry about fixing little mistakes, and I really can’t be bothered going through and doing it now.
Be brutal 😛
frangipani princess xoxo
* my debating teacher always tells us there are lies, damn lies and statistics, so yes, I made that up. But it sounds cool, right?