Everybody seems to have heard the phrase “Thou shall not make unto thee any graven image” (The Bible, Exodus, 20, 4). Lots of people are in agreement on the point. An idol is frequently associated either with a gilded statue of some deity or a sweaty rock star rushing about the stage in a frenzy. The characters are useless in terms of practical application. Some peculiarities of the meaning of the word “idol” enable true idols to stay in the shade.
The point is that not only certain persons can be seen as idols; money can be frequently idolized too. The end can assume the role of a gilded statute (the end effortlessly justifies the means in this case). In other words, an idol is bigger than a certain person, object or phenomenon. An idol has more to do with our attitude toward things we idolize.
For example, there is a girl who treats the personality and work of Marilyn Monroe with great admiration. The girl believes the actress was a beautiful woman, a clever one, the epitome of femininity. Then the girl starts taking radical steps in order to look like the woman of her dreams. She peroxides her hair. Dying one’s hair is not a blameworthy act; lots of teenage girls often change the color of their hair. Some time later the girl makes an appointment in a plastic surgery clinic. She wants to have the shape of her lips changed so that she may look even more like her favorite actress. Yet again, there is nothing reprehensible about this case of plastic surgery (no matter what we think about plastic surgery). The girl’s attitude toward her actions is more important.
Time to imitate
Calling any imitation acts an evil thing would be a rather ill-considered judgment. The imitating abilities form the cornerstone of many educational methods. For example, young children learn to speak by mimicking human speech. They also imitate the behavioral reactions of adults. You can spend hours trying to get your child to understand the importance of following the traffic light rules. But your child will never get the message if you never wait for the green light while crossing a road.
Imitation can be useful to us at an older age too. For example, we can develop certain skills only by imitating (consciously or not) ways and techniques used by our more experienced colleagues. Self-made celebrities often point out in their memoirs that they learned a lot from their superiors in terms of professional behavior, conflict management etc.
At the end of the day, we can save up a great deal of time by dealing with a situation in the same way as our more skillful friends and colleagues do under the circumstances.
Modern fashion industry is largely about picking the right trends for imitation purposes. Therefore, we should not be surprised to see numerous 15-year-old girls wearing stylish clothes. The girls simply take the opportunity of finding examples to imitate in the glossy magazines. The most important question is why a person should take somebody or something as an example.
Stealing another’s ideas
Let us get back to that would-be icon Marilyn Monroe who applied for plastic surgery to enhance the similarities between herself and her idol. An increasingly large number of young and middle-aged people tend to focus on appearances modeled their idols. The people seem to believe subconsciously that they can luck out and make some dramatic changes for the better once they start looking like their idols.
In other words, they believe that can change the “contents” after changing their appearances. They begin thinking about having their looks changed even more if a long-awaited stroke of luck keeps waiting in the wings.
Thus many a person forms dependence on a fallacious conclusion that says “the more you look like your idol, the luckier you are.” A person shirks from assuming responsibility for his life and shifts it on to somebody else. The above is the main negative result of worshipping somebody blindly.
Celebrity Worship Syndrome
Celebrity worship has been identified as one of the most common ways of idolatry these days. Researchers report that about one third of people (thanks to daily gossip columns in the tabloids and ubiquitous celebrity news in the media) suffer from Celebrity Worship Syndrome, an actual syndrome that can become obsessional, replacing conventional relations.
There are three stages of the disease.
A fan shows a lively interest in a celebrity at the first stage. Perhaps a fan’s interest gets far too lively since the person becomes addicted to information on his idol’s private life. He begins to avidly pay attention to all kinds of news relating to his idol e.g. wardrobe items or details of the latest fall-out between the star and his producer etc. Fans feel anxiety and tension and may develop depression if the flow of information on a star’s life runs dry temporarily.
About 10% of enthusiastic fans reach the second stage as the syndrome takes shape and people become confident that they form some kind of a “special relationship” with their idols. Manifestations vary. A fan may be certain of his or her close supernatural ties with the idol or his relation by blood.
Fans may suffer from obsessional conditions at the third stage of the syndrome. Criminal behavior on the part of a fan cannot be ruled out in some cases.
According to researchers, people who need direction or a boost to their self-esteem and confidence are most susceptible to Celebrity Worship Syndrome. Such emotionally unstable people may take any charismatic personality as a guru or teacher.
Translated by Guerman Grachev