In a survey done for UK’s Association of Teachers and Lecturers (ATL), 60% of teachers said their pupils most aspired to be David Beckham. More than a third said pupils wanted to be famous for the sake of being famous and 32% of the 304 teachers quizzed said their pupils modelled themselves on heiress Paris Hilton. And in America, about two dozen young people camped outside a shop just to buy the highly anticipated Nike Air Yeezy II for four times the retail price. It is therefore not very surprising when a survey showed most Americans know more about Kim Kadarshian than they do about the Federal Reserve. It goes without saying that this woman has deservedly earned her place in the celebrity world. She is famed for a sex tape and a marriage that lasted a very long time- 72 days!
My first reaction whenever I read such facts is that the western world is morally inept and superficial. Obsession with celebrities is hardly an issue in our Ghanaian society. We are too busy finding solutions to the problem of cholera- which claimed more than 80 lives last year than to waste our time discussing why a movie star or a musician is wearing a watch that does not match her earrings! We have our priorities straight! Or maybe I’m wrong.
For quite a long time I have been trying to convince myself the Ghanaian society has not blindly descended into the vanity of the Western world. What first got me thinking was what happened at the last Vodafone Ghana Music Awards. On the red carpet, “celebrities” were stopped for a little chat and each was asked what designer clothes they had on. The reviews of who-wore-what and who had the best combination of designer labels that followed on the radios and online is what is disturbing. That what celebrity X wore should grab more attention than the little boy that died of cholera is a big shame on us as a people. How can these “celebrities” appear on live TV and flaunt their expensive designer labels to the whole nation while WaterAid appeals for £4 a month from people in the West to fund the construction of hand dug wells in places like Ghana?! Since when did we as a society become fixated with the everyday lives of our musicians, movie stars and sportsmen and women-if there are any. (I’m struggling to think of any famous Ghanaian sports women)
Slowly we are being sucked into this celebrity obsession culture. Glorifying the flamboyant lifestyles of these “celebrities” is just an indication of how materialistic our society is becoming. We are throwing away our values in exchange for pure nonsense. And with this new generation of Ghanaian children spending more and more time behind the computer and TV screens, it is only a matter of time before we hear them say they do not need education to be successful; all they need is a pretty face and big, fake bum and boobs. It is only a matter of time our children will say they do not need a profession; all they need is to get into a reality TV show and be famous just for the sake of being famous.
There is nothing wrong with having admiration for talented entertainers, but what is wrong is to put these people on a very high pedestal, follow their every move and treat them like gods. We have mouths to feed, lives to save and children who need to be given hope. Let’s get to work!
By Maclean Arthur