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09 February 2015

On (dis)liking celebrities I've been thinking about the strange phenomenon of how I view various celebrities[More:]

It strikes me that there is a strange, non-rational quality to it. Like, if we just look at female RnB/pop singers, I don't care for Rihanna or Beyonce. I came across a note I wrote about the VMAs ~8 years ago showing that I wasn't into them back then either. Meanwhile I like Ciara & Kelis. And it's all a bit tongue in cheek of course, it doesn't have to do with an "objective" take on their music, career, or with what they are as people in real life.

Now a couple years ago I started following the fashion brand Balmain on twitter. They're one of those splashy brands that often dress celebrities and so forth. And lately I noticed that they keep posting photos of people in that orbit: Beyonce, Rihanna, Kim Kardashian. And it sort of turns me off. And again, that strikes me as strange and non-rational. What does it matter who is wearing the clothes?!

I guess I dislike finding out that I'm "swayed" by the world of public images--whether a celebrity persona, or a celebrity endorsement, etc.--in a gut level that my mind doesn't intercept logically with the realization that, "this doesn't mean anything."
Once you get a little older, you find yourself so disconnected from pop culture that you don't even have enough information to have an opinion, positive or negative. I vaguely know who Beyonce and Rihanna are but I'm sure that I couldn't identify them from their photos.
posted by octothorpe 09 February | 08:15
Agreed, octothorpe. Similarly, occasionally some pop song will be prevalent enough that I hear it and like it, but I couldn't tell you who sings it.
posted by JanetLand 09 February | 08:18
In my younger days I was specifically intent on not liking anything popular and if I happened to like anything before it became popular, it was ruined for me after that.

I guess it was tied into trying to define my person as an individual and figuring out just who I was but not being secure enough to like what I liked regardless of it's popularity.

For example: At present, I find that I am able to overcome my instantaneous recoil from anything colored pink, and I actually have some pink things.

But I still am unfortunately unable to shake my aversion to celebrities because I hear so many negatives about the way many of them treat other folks that it has tainted all of them for me.

So, perhaps it's a difference between something's impact on me as an individual (pink) versus a person or corporation or what/whoever being a "negative" entity. If you dig down into the underlying reason that you don't like "this" maybe it'll clarify your observations.
posted by mightshould 09 February | 09:00
It does matter who's wearing the clothes. Fashion isn't science, it's cultural. Advertisers, knowing this, will risk losing you in order to gain more of their target demographic (who are influenced 'non-rationally' but in the opposite direction.
posted by Obscure Reference 09 February | 09:06
Not really about celebrities, but liking is not really about anything rational, which is why celebrities or brands or whatnot are always trying to catch the ineffable qualities that get people who aren't really paying attention to have a reaction of any kind: you may not know what or why but you will remember something because it registered on a visceral level, and often the brain will fill in a rational upon request.

I have no idea what Balmain is doing any more but it use to be a famous fashion house and while I doubt they're at all in tact from then, as a going concern, getting someone like Rhianna to wear their clothes would be a huge deal having nothing to do with music and everything to do with fashion placement, because she's a huge get as a famous clothes horse and fashion icon. It means good things for their continued survival unless it looked terrible.

Whatever there use to be about things being "mainstream" or compartmentalized in some way to denote strata or cache has mostly broken down until you get to extremely niche things that can or must survive without greater exposure to the world at large. The fact that people with almost no connection to pop culture recognize these names at all is a huge thing today when people have completely different streams of information.

The fact you think of Balmain as a splashy brand and I think of haute couture means our interest in it is probably pretty different, but maybe you don't quite know what your interest is. Generally people who aren't quite sure about their own identity will use things they like as signifiers to represent themselves, which is why people will become very invested in a musician or a writer or a sports team, whatever. If that's why you liked them in the first place, maybe you do need to switch them out with something you think better represents you, but unless you're parading your likes and dislikes in front of some very predictable crowd of people you're hoping to impress, I don't see the point. Now I'm kind of curious what happened to Balmain with a sense of dread.

I never really understand these thing you trot out, because they're invariably these superficial things that you seem to place a lot of importance on-- I'm just wondering if this is typical of the people you're around or this is all you. Because people who put a lot of importance on the "right" nails or shirt aren't usually the people who really know, it's just what they've agreed upon in their little particular follow the leader enclave or their own style book. In a way, the world has shrunken back down to being a handful of people who know or care about what they're into with herds of people hoping to grab something they can monetize.
posted by ethylene 09 February | 13:59
I started following Balmain because I liked their jackets... I said they're splashy because they are ostentatious about featuring celebrities and they do the whole "mass market fashion brand" thing like sell all sorts of accessories, they're not a pure haute couture venture (anymore?)...

I agree that on some level, same as with sports teams, politics or other "interests" people glom onto some entities versus others in ineffable ways and it becomes an entertaining sort of thing to follow and debate. Same as with chemistry between individuals in person for that matter.

But I'm curious about your last paragraph, I'm not sure what you're referring to--I assume you're referring to some things I've posted?
posted by Firas 09 February | 14:14
But I still am unfortunately unable to shake my aversion to celebrities because I hear so many negatives about the way many of them treat other folks that it has tainted all of them for me.
Yeah, me too. I'm sure there are some that are pretty much regular people and have respect for others, but I don't see it. What makes it far worse for me is that so many celebrities these days are famous for nothing more than being famous (or, more often, infamous). I can see the attraction in someone that has a particular talent to some extent, but can't for the life of me figure out why people allow someone to become a celebrity just because they want to and are prepared to pay any price, starting with their self-respect, to do so.

Also, something about lawns.
posted by dg 09 February | 16:29
One of the things that made me realize this about non-rational responses is that, over the couple years, a lot of singers have dropped videos that "push the envelope" and get a lot of attention--you know, Miley Cyrus, Nicki Minaj, you name 'em. And I realized my response ("this is hot & fun" vs. "this is gauche and over the top") depends on who does it, how I think of that artist in general. A biased viewpoint.
posted by Firas 10 February | 01:10
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