Why Are People So Fascinated with Celebrities?

For decades married men like Tiger Woods have been having sex with a great handful of women and that does not change. But why is everyone so fascinated by it?

One of the first reasons is obvious. Everyone knows his name. They have seen him on television and feel like they know him personally to a small extent. Everyone has watched Tiger Woods do his famous fist pump after making a putt. Everyone also knows that when he is exploited in the news, he will become the talk of the week at work, adding incentive to care. As a human, we enjoy talking with other humans.

But above and beyond that, everyone admires his golf ability. People who can do amazing things in one particular area are often perceived with the “halo effect” by the general public. While it might seem absurd to think that just because Tiger Woods is good at golf he is somehow more moral, intelligent, etc… it is true. The moment that halo is broken, the public often gets irate or annoyed.

Another reason for the fascination with celebrities is part of the terror management theory. This theory assumes that people often want to live as long as possible. The thought of dying is disturbing and as such, humans naturally ignore death, overestimate their personal health, and underestimate risk for disease. They invest in meaning systems which will prevail long after their death.

The idea of death is upsetting and can scare many people but believing that there is life after death helps people to better come to terms with the idea of death, whether the “after life” is through loves ones, through spiritual beliefs, or through cultural beliefs. This relates to celebrities because people love celebrities for the cultural role they place. They are a major part of the view of the world. Worshipping celebrities to an extent makes people feel as though they are part of an important belief system or cause which gives means to life and as such reduces the sting of death.

People are able to cope with understanding they will die if they can love fame and celebrities. As such, finding out that a famous star who is adored and worshipped had sex with many women means that the public loses faith in the key figure in their cultural world view. It means that an element in their belief system was broken. On certain levels, acts of adultery like those of Tiger Woods make the general public more uncomfortable with their own inevitable death.