Why Do Celebrities Play Such A Big Part In Our Imagination?

By Dave Singleton

Author of CRUSH: Writers Reflect on Love, Longing and the Lasting Power of Their First Celebrity Crush, now available in bookstores and online.

I have a theory that celebrities are just characters in my head. At any moment driving to work or walking down the street, I think about the people in my life. The ones I know glide alongside the celebrities in a constant, mental kaleidoscope. In my mind, my mother, Princess Diana, Hillary and Bill, my brother Bruce, my book editor, George Clooney and the entire casts of Ocean’s 11, 12, and 13, Tom Cruise, close friends like Bobbi and Gail, and Channing Tatum are all characters chaotically intersecting in the running drama I call my life.

Celebrities are both our intimate daily companions and as distant as the heavens above. It’s hard to know just how to think of them.

Based on how much time I spend immersed in media, can my mind always distinguish who’s real from unreal? I wonder.

Of course, the mind distinguishes between whom we know and whom we merely know of. Otherwise, we’d technically qualify as schizophrenics. But can emotions always make a distinction if, over time, you spend as much time on the unreal as the real?

Maybe things have changed somewhat since life in the Pleistocene era, but our neural hardwiring hasn’t. On some deeper level, we may think NBC’s “Friends” really are our friends. I’m not above admitting I’ve pictured myself as a seventh wheel sitting next to Rachel and Monica on the tattered sofa at Central Perk. More than once.

A few years ago, when I ran into Courtney Cox at Marix Tex Mex restaurant in West Hollywood, I waved instinctively. Who hasn’t had a celebrity sighting, mistaking a local newscaster, say, for a compadre?

If, like me, you spent time pouring over teen and celebrity magazines when you were a preteen, and arguably at your most impressionable, you know what I am talking about. You were alone. You felt vulnerable. No one understood you. Except for David Cassidy. Or Sandra Bullock. Or Jared Leto.

In one episode of the cartoon show “King of the Hill,” a character meets the late former Texas Governor Ann Richards. “You probably know me,” he says. “I’ve seen you on TV.”

He’s right.


Thoughts? Talk about your first celebrity crush on Jyst.

Jyst and Crush.jpg


Read more of Dave’s work at his website.

Follow him on Twitter @DCDaveSingleton




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