Pop culture is something that is important to many people and it shapes us as a society; it’s rarely not the topic of discussion. There’s an issue though, and the industry plus the population are to blame. I’m talking about the over-fetishization of actors and fictional characters.
The dictionary definition of a fetish is a form of desire in which gratification is linked to an abnormal degree’. This is a form of obsession. I am not against admiring a celebrity or a movie character. I support expressing things you like, but some individuals let it get out of hand. ‘Getting out of hand’ is in reference to making obscene edits, writing fanfiction, commenting unwholesome remarks on social media, direct messaging them, etc.
Actors such as Timothee Chalamet, Tom Holland, Robert Pattinson, Evan Peters, Zendaya, Megan Fox, Scarlett Johansen, and many others aren’t appreciated for their talents and contributions to film. Their gifts are overlooked, and they are primarily appreciated for their looks. It must be upsetting for the actors because their hard work is dismissed by their physical appearances and features. This award goes to other fields of art as well. Singers aren’t excluded from this either. Some included are Harry Styles and other members of One Direction, Olivia Rodrigo, Billie Ellish, and Jack Harlow.
For instance, a few years ago, a woman named Anna Todd wrote a fanfiction about British singer, Harry Styles. Styles was only 19 when this was written while Todd was 25. Not very inappropriate, but still very unusual. The character Styles is based on is named Hardin. Though he doesn’t entirely fit the description in the book, it’s been confirmed that he is the inspiration for the character. In the book, Hardin is described as a ‘bad boy’ with a body full of tattoos and piercings. He is characterized as toxic and manipulative but keeps the main character, Tessa, in a never-ending loop, reeling her in and casting her out again. Todd’s book got over one billion reads on Wattpad, the platform she posted it on, and was officially published and became a major motion picture. There is some speculation that Styles had a restraining order on Todd but it is officially unknown. The book itself contains a lot of obscene content which would make anyone uncomfortable. Though it is undeniable that Styles is an attractive man, his talent for songwriting and music was overlooked in this case and the prime focus was only his looks.
Recently, there has been a new wave of fans of the movie Scream. Don’t worry, I didn’t include spoilers. Made in 1996, starring familiar faces like Drew Barrymore, Matthew Lillard, Skeet Ulrich, and Courtney Cox, a teenager and her friends are targeted by a new killer, using other horror films as inspiration. It is rarely talked about how phenomenal of a movie it is, having won 11 awards and received 11 other nominations. The new main discussion of the movie is Ghostface and Matthew Lillard’s role, and not because of how great their characters are. I’ve seen many individuals on social media platforms such as Tiktok make fan edits of these characters without watching the movie. I’m not assuming this fact to be a gatekeeper; they put in the comments that they were ‘hyped to watch the movie because they’d never seen it before’. It isn’t only Scream that is seeing a wave like this. It’s also tv-shows such as Squid Game, Stranger Things, and Criminal Minds, as well as movies and series like Twilight, Harry Potter, the entire Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU), and many more.
Criminal Minds is a very serious show about serial murders and how the FBI caught them. All the episodes are based on real-life; yet, there are still large factions of the audience who primarily focus on the attractiveness of the cast. It is the same situation with the MCU. All the movies are articulated and crafted with beautiful cinematography, but it’s all overlooked because of ‘how hot the actors are’ like Richard Madden in the new Marvel movie, Eternals, or again, Timothee Chalamet in Dune. Leading back to my original examples of over-fetishization, all the examples of TV and film I gave have fan-fiction written about them. This past Sunday, my friend and I went to see the new movie, Eternals. Both of us are big Marvel geeks and were very excited to see what Marvel had designed for us. Don’t worry, there aren’t spoilers for this either. I enjoyed the movie, as did my friend. After the movie ended and I got home, I went on Tiktok and a few videos about the movie came up on my “For You” page. I thought they were going to be about the movie itself, but most of them were just more fan edits of the characters. It’s almost as if movies aren’t appreciated anymore.
There are some that forget that these people aren’t robots; they’re human beings. They idolize them to the point where the celebrity feels an immense amount of pressure on them. Fans put these celebrities on pedestals and give them God complexes because there are some celebrities that love the feeling of their fans over-fetishizing them. Just put yourself in their place and imagine how it must feel. At first, it might seem cool, but after a few years, it must become maddening. You feel worthless of your talents and everything you’ve worked for and you become diminished to just a pretty face.
There is never an issue with loving a celebrity, but you should never make them your God. They’re humans, just like you and I.