Friday, December 01, 2006

Why Celebrities Have Conflict-Ridden Lives

So. Now we can add Danny DeVito's crazy drunken rant to the list of recent rants done by Mel Gibson and then Michael Richards. As far as I know, Richards wasn't drunk at the time. But Mel and Danny obviously were.

The latest issue of Whistleblower magazine is called Why Hollywood is Insane. Great articles! Wish I could post most of them. But the one that stuck out most in my mind was David Kupelian's "The Secret Curse of Hollywood 'Stars.' In that article alone, we find out why so many celebrities have conflict-ridden lives and dysfunctional families.

It is a very long article, so I will paraphrase and just mention some of the details. But I will quote the portions that will explicitly explain to us why people like Gibson, Richards, and DeVito (plus many others that I could list) acted out the way they did.

Kupelian starts out with a quote from the Ten Commandments in Exodus:

"Thou shalt have no other gods before me." Exodus 20:3

He begins the article mentioning the drastic conflict that existed for Judy Garland (who was so talented, beautiful and so "perfect"), and Elvis Presley, whose talent led to his idolization by millions.

Garland, unfortunately, struggled with drug and alchohol addictions, was plagued with self-doubt and tried to commit suicide several times. She was miserable and died of a sleeping pill overdose.

Presley had wealth and fame beyond anyone's wildest dreams. Yet, his inner conflict led him into years of legendary drug use that ultimately caught up with him and tragically claimed his life in 1977.

Kupelian writes:


For every self-destructive superstar who dies such a sad, early death, there are hundreds of Hollywood celebrities who live profoundly dysfunctional, conflict-ridden lives. Drug and alcohol abuse are commonplace and divorce almost the norm. Yet these people seem to possess everything most of us secretly covet - talent, fame, good looks, wealth, adoration.

So what goes wrong? What secret curse afflicts them?


Kupelian goes on to say that he doesn't wish to oversimplify, because each situation is different.


But Andrew Breitbart and Mark Ebner, in their scathing expose' "Hollywood Interrupted," take a stab at answering the question of why superstars are so often full of conflict and their family life so disastrous:

"The short answer," claim the authors, "is ego. Insatiable ego. Constantly massaged ego. 24-hour-a-day concierge ego. 400-thread-count linen at the five-star luxury dog kennel ego. Trading in your pre-fame spouse for a world-class model ego."


I immediately thought of Christie Brinkley. Although her husband wasn't "famous," he married a beautiful, famous, top model. From articles that I have read, she's a wonderful mother and appears to have a level head on her shoulders. So what went wrong? Her husband craved having sex with a teenager?? He threw away his marriage, the chance for his young children to grow up with the family intact, and his reputation just to have sex with a young teenaged girl? Insane! Stupid! Unbelievably selfish!

In fact, as we go deeper into the article, we will see how selfishness and self-worship, and craving for ego-driven idolatry leads to much disfunction.

There is a saying similar to the following: Many believe that the greatest tragedy in life is not getting their hearts desire. But sometimes it turns out that the greatest tragedy in life IS GETTING THEIR HEARTS DESIRE. Be careful what you wish for! It matters what that desire is! It matters whether it is God-directed or ego-directed!

According to Breitbart and Ebner:


...Every celebrity, by design and necessity, is a narcissist. The desire to become a star requires an incredible appetite for attention and approval. To achieve fame and its accoutrements takes laser-like focus and a nearly commendable ability to stay self-centered in the service of the dream. Maintaining celebrity is a 24-hour-a-day process requiring a full-time staff to solidify the star's place at the top of the social pecking order. An impenetrable ring of "yes" creatures - including assistants, publicists, managers, agents, hair and make-up artists, stylists, lifestyle consultants, Pilates instructors, cooks, drivers, nannies, schedulers, and other assorted caretakers - work round-the-clock to feed the star's absurd sense of entitlement. Celebrities focus on the minutiae of self all the time - and they make sure that no distractions like airplane reservation snafus or colicky babies interrupt this singular focus. This often extremely lucrative self-obsession invariably becomes downright pathological. ...

Massive ego and narcissism may be the primary ingredients for achieving and maintaining Hollywood success, but they are also the No. 1 cause of the gradiose foibles in their storied, disastrous personal lives. The full-time job of parenting requires absolute selflessness. In contrast, the full-time job of celebrity requires absolute selfishness. The two by definition do not naturally co-exist. Yet, because of their fame, money, and social power, stars somehow think they can defy the odds and maintain a high level of professional success, and still raise healthy families in the process.

No wonder so much rotten fruit is hanging from the dysfunctional celebrity family tree.


But Kupelian goes a whole lot deeper. He shows that living off of approval and applause may feel great for a time, but it also produces great problems.


When it comes to being worshipped, human beings just don't make very good gods, something the Good Book warns about repeatedly. Worship is meant for God alone. But when humans are idolized and worshipped - and when they lower themselves to accept that homage and bask in its glory - major conflict mysteriously appears within the idolized "star."


This is where it gets really good. In fact, when you finish reading this portion, you will probably not only find out why some Hollywood celebrities are basket cases, but you may find out something really important about ourselves that we may not have ever realized before!


'Those 2 impostors'

What could possibly be wrong with the good feelings we get, the ego warmth, the inner glow to our pride that we derive from basking in the approval and adulation of others? And how could celebrities overdose and self-destruct on large quantities of this "drug" of false love/praise?

Before we launch full-bore into answering this question, let's set the stage by recalling the line from Rudyard Kipling's stirring poem, "If," where he says:

If you can meet with Triumph and Disaster
And treat those two impostors just the same...


"Impostors"? How can triumph and disaster both be impostors? Hold that thought, while we skip down to the last stanza:

If you can talk with crowds and keep your virtue,
Or walk with kings - or lose the common touch,
If neither foes nor loving friends can hurt you ...


Wait a minute. We all know to watch out for "foes," but how can "loving friends" possibly hurt us?


Kupelian explains this mystery by referencing his book, "The Marketing of Evil," where he tells us that we can't always trust our feelings. Feelings are exactly what the evil marketers appeal to so that they can make bad things appear to be good, and end up selling us "corruption disguised as freedom."

He writes:


After all, if you think what feels good is good, and what feels bad is bad, you have a problem, because lies often make you feel good - and so does heroin, and so does sex with a stranger. You also have a problem with truth - because truth often hurts.



[W]e have a noble nature and an ignoble nature. The noble nature is patient, kind, honest, courageous, unselfish, thoughtful and temperate. The ignoble nature is angry, resentful, selfish, lustful, greedy, cowardly, envious and vengeful. And of course, following the feelings of this dark side is what gets us into trouble.


If we are honest, each of us are saddled with both natures to one degree or another. Kupelian shares that, "good and evil are everywhere in this life, and each of these has a spiritual source which beckons to us, without words, to follow its leadings." (bold mine)

Which side enlarges and dominates our lives? How do we get the noble side to grow and the ignoble side to grow smaller, even wither away and die?

Kupelian writes:


The greatest being who ever walked this earth, Jesus Christ, answered this question in His very first recorded word of ministry: "Repent." (see Matthew 4:17)

"Repent?" Good grief, isn't that one of those archaic Bible words that means we have to wail and gnash our teent and clothe ourselves in sackcloth and ashes?

No. To repent just means you simply look honestly in the mirror and see your own flaws and weaknesses and don't make excuses for them, don't deny them, blame someone else for them or justify them. You also don't condemn yourself for them. But rather, you just plain old acknowledge your faults honestly and allow yourself to experience the natural sadness and contrition that accompany your awareness of them, and quietly cry out to God to help you to change. And change comes.

But - you cannot change for the better (and I don't mean superficial change, but rather, transformation at your very core) if you don't repent. And you cannot repent if you can't see wrong in yourself. And you can't see what's wrong with you if you are high on the anesthetizing "drug" of false love.

Perhaps you are more familiar with that other feel-good "drug," which has the same effect of making you invulnerable to seeing your own faults. It's called hate.

For example, the main reason Islamic culture is so notoriously non-introspecitve, blaming everyone and everything else for its own gargantuan problems, is because so many Muslims (though obviously not all) have been pumped up with hate. Hatred for Jews in particular and all "infidels" (non-Muslims) in general, as well as hatred and blame toward women, or toward the other varieties of Muslims, and so on, renders them literally unable to see themselves and their faults. Their hatred acts like a narcotic drug that takes away their conscience-pain and recognition of their faults that would otherwise naturally impress itself on their minds. they are filled instead with the ecstasy of false righteousness based on infidel-hatred.


Wow! What an insight! They are filled with the ecstasy of false righteousness based on infidel-hatred! If that's not Satan's calling, I don't know what is! Of course, the Islamo-fascist terrorists are examples of the extreme concerning "false righteousness based on infidel-hatred," but we can clearly see that false righteousness, in and of itself, can lead anyone to do anything evil!

Taking this a step further, we can recognize the truthfulness of the Bible.

Christian writers can choose to focus on one aspect of God while ignoring the other. Many love to write (and the audience loves to read) the books that uplift and encourage us with Scripture. However, the books that don't necessarily focus on the Good News of the gospel, but also focus on our sinful, unrepentant hearts, while showing us how separated we are from Holy God, are the types that usually aren't the best sellers.

The Way of the Master book is one that would never reach the level of readership that, lets say, for example, The Purpose Driven Life book has. Why? Because The Way of the Master book focuses on the Law of God, His judgment, and our need for repentance!

Going back to the article. Kupelian states that many of us know how hate can make you "high," and blaming and resenting others "blows your mind clean" of any awareness of your own problems. But he asks this all-important question:


But do we also recognize that getting high on the "drug" of false love, adoration and unconditional approval - everybody telling us how wonderful we are all the time, and our believeing it - also can render us virtually unable to see our own flaws?


I think that Eve fell for a type of "false love" when she was tempted by Satan. Her "drug" was temptation through two physical desires, as well as the spiritual desire to "know evil." She had already experienced all the good that God wanted her to have. But she heeded Satan's lure of "unconditional approval" (e.g. Satan telling her, 'C'mon Eve! You will not die!'), so to speak, his lure of false adoration (e.g. 'your eyes will be opened and you will be like God') and put her good relationship with God in jeopardy (loss of spiritual connection) and dire straits (physical death, with the possibility of spiritual death - separation from God forever) by acting upon the lies of Satan.

Gen 3:4 And the serpent said unto the woman, Ye shall not surely die:


Gen 3:5 For God doth know that in the day ye eat thereof, then your eyes shall be opened, and ye shall be as gods, knowing good and evil.


Gen 3:6 And when the woman saw that the tree [was] good for food, and that it [was] pleasant to the eyes, and a tree to be desired to make [one] wise, she took of the fruit thereof, and did eat, and gave also unto her husband with her; and he did eat. (bold mine)

To make matters worse, Adam, having eaten of the same forbidden fruit blamed Eve for offering it to him. Thus we had history's first incident of hatred and blame.

Gen 3:12 And the man said, The woman whom thou gavest [to be] with me, she gave me of the tree, and I did eat.

Kupelian goes on to describe why people get involved with drugs, alcohol, pain-killers etc. and how the approval of others can act upon us exactly like a drug, anesthetizing us from feeling the pain of our problems. And we become addicted to it! He describes the "wicked cycle" of it all, and as the "pain killer" wears off, our need for the "drug" of approval (or hate!) can cause one to descend into madness, or even suicide.

It's the reason that hate often boils over into violence (if it doesn't destroy us inwardly first), because it has nowhere else to go...and is ever growing. This is what leads many celebrities to embrace false religions (Scientology, New Age etc.). Getting high on either of these "drugs" (of false love or hate), we become deluded, egotistical and prideful, and very, very blind to our faults - making us blind therefore to pretty much everything else.

Ah! So THAT'S why so many celebrities marry the wrong person in the first place and end up divorcing them shortly thereafter!

Now hold onto your hats. The next paragraph is sure to inflict the ire of some who read this blog!!

Kupelian writes:


Fortunately, the opposite is also true. What I've discovered in this life is that if you are sincere enough to face yourself and patiently bear the pain of seeing your own imperfections on a moment-to-moment basis, you'll pretty much understand everybody else - at least as much as you need to understand.


Wow! That's huge! It reminds me of what Jesus said in Luke:

Luk 6:42 Either how canst thou say to thy brother, Brother, let me pull
out the mote that is in thine eye, when thou thyself beholdest not the beam that is in thine own eye? Thou hypocrite, cast out first the beam out of thine own eye, and then shalt thou see clearly to pull out the mote that is in thy brother's eye.


Casting out the beam from one's own eye will then help us see clearly to pull out the mote that is in thy brother's eye! But many would claim that's "judgmental." Well yes and no. It's a form of showing another their need for repentance, just as I had my own need for repentance! Jesus is giving us permission to "pull out the mote from thy brother's eye" (meaning, point out their need for repentance too!!). When, as born-again believers in Christ, we have taken out the "beam from our own eyes" (meaning, already know the need for our own repentance!) and now see clearly because of what Jesus has done on the cross and what God's Word says; it is then that we see the need for all to do the same in order to be saved! It's not my righteousness that gives us this command, it's Jesus' righteousness that allows us to "see clearly."

This is why following God's Word is crucial. If we follow man's word over and above God's Word, then we are elevating "our thoughts above His thoughts." And Scripture tells us that His thoughts are far above ours! We need His written Word as a guide in our lives so that we don't go astray! It's easy to go astray (or be led astray by false prophets, leaders, teachers etc.) when one is ignorant of God's Word.

Kupelian writes:


It's as though God just wants us to look at ourselves honestly and to repent of our sins and seek Him and His righteous way - and as a fringe benefit, He is happy to "throw in" an authentic understanding of everything else in life. No extra charge. It's the icing on the cake - the cake being our own, sincere self-examination.

Well guess what? We cannot have that twin blessing of understanding ourselves and others if we're coked-up on the praise of others. Again, it's not the praise and worship itself that hurts us, but the way we deal with it. If people praise you for something you've done, but you don't stoop down to "suck up" the praise and build your self-image with it, then you won't be hurt by it.


So, we see that it's a matter of human praise "keeping it's place" within our lives and not being blown out of proportion and entered into the domain that belongs to God alone...worship.

Kupelian goes on to describe how excessive praise hurt him earlier in life. He also included other examples. You can personalize such an experience by recalling a time that someone praised you so excessively that you felt uncomfortable. Why is it that we can feel awkward when that happens; just like we can feel very bad emotionally when someone criticizes or condemns us? Why the discomfort?

The more approval-oriented we are, the more we feel hurt by criticism - and to the same degree. You might be saying "So what?" The reason is because whenever we build our pride, we're growing in conflict with God.

Kupelian writes:


If we take that "drug" of worship into us, it just enlarges our problems.

Remember, what keeps us sane, happy and moving in the right direction in this life is living in the light of constant, good-natured self-awareness. And that self-awareness - with our conscience brightly shining through it - becomes the regulator of our life, and makes our perceptions and decisions right and wholesome.

[W]hen we worship a celebrity [Christine adds: or anyone else, for that matter] as a god, like millions did with Elvis, we're robbing them of this precious relationship with the real God. Although a part of them love (is addicted to) the "drug" of praise, another more innocent part of them longs to be treated normally, honestly, soberly.

[B]ut we can learn something from what happens to those humans we worship. It's not a coincidence that Hollywood celebrities so often become dysfunctional, ultraliberal weirdos. Our worship of them is hurtful - to us, but especially to them.


Yes. Not all celebrities fall into this trap and become basket cases. Although their fans serve up the "drug," they accepted it gracefully, without crossing that line that could lead them to destruction.

There are many "stars" who have the right attitude. They are humble, grateful, with both feet firmly planted on the ground. They recognize that "Triumph" and "Disaster" are both impostors. It's what Kipling was pointing to when he wrote:

If you can talk with crowds and keep your virtue,
Or walk with kings - nor lose the common touch,
If neither foes nor loving friends can hurt you;
If all men count with you, but none too much,
If you can fill the unforgiving minute
With sixty seconds' worth of distance run,
Yours is the Earth and everything that's in it,
And - which is more - you'll be a Man, my son!

8 comments:

GMpilot said...

”…David Kupelian's "The Secret Curse of Hollywood 'Stars.' In that article alone, we find out why so many celebrities have conflict-ridden lives and dysfunctional families.”

It’s because they have not placated the Power(s)!! Booga-booga! Slay an ox! Sacrifice a virgin! Debase yourself to the Power(s)! Maybe that will soothe it/them…

For every Judy Garland or Elvis Presley, there are ten Alice Coopers or Paul Newmans.
Hollywood is the equivalent of military service for some: all it does is accelerate whatever was already in them. As I used to point out to my friends’ parents, everyone knows that John Kennedy was a Navy man…but so was John Dillinger, and he was a renegade even then (he jumped ship twice). Internal attitude + external circumstances made them what they were: no God required.

”There is a saying similar to the following: Many believe that the greatest tragedy in life is not getting their hearts desire. But sometimes it turns out that the greatest tragedy in life IS GETTING THEIR HEARTS DESIRE. Be careful what you wish for!”

That saying is attributed to famous author, wit, and gay guy Oscar Wilde. Booga-booga!

Breitbar and Ebner have it down well. Of course, this applies to all celebrities, not just Hollywood types. Paris Hilton comes to mind; so do the past and recent exploits of the Bush twins. (Just what happened in Buenos Aires, anyway?)
I’ll bet Kupelian is as silent as the grave about Jenna and Barbara.

(Kipling quotation)

”Wait a minute. We all know to watch out for "foes," but how can "loving friends" possibly hurt us?”

Anyone above the age of 15 can answer that. ‘Loving friends’ can do you harm simply because they believe they’re helping you (for example, like visiting foreign strangers and trying to convert them to your god, when they’ve lived in harmony with their own gods for centuries). There’s even folk wisdom regarding such people:
”Lord, protect me from my friends; I can take care of my enemies myself.”

”Kupelian explains this mystery by referencing his book, "The Marketing of Evil," where he tells us that we can't always trust our feelings. Feelings are exactly what the evil marketers appeal to so that they can make bad things appear to be good, and selling us ‘corruption disguised as freedom.’”

You mean like the so-called “Patriot Act”?

“Wow! What an insight! They are filled with the ecstasy of false righteousness based on infidel-hatred! If that's not Satan's calling, I don't know what is! Of course, the Islamo-fascist terrorists are examples of the extreme concerning "false righteousness based on infidel-hatred," but we can clearly see that false righteousness, in and or itself, can lead anyone to do anything evil!

Aw, we don’t have to go so far afield, hostess: look at Ted Haggard. Or Eric Rudolph.

”…the books that don't necessarily focus on the Good News of the gospel, but also focus on our sinful, unrepentant, separated from God natures aren't usually the best sellers. The Way of the Master book is one that would never reach the level of readership that, lets say, for example, The Purpose Driven Life book has. Why? Because The Way of the Master book focuses on the Law of God, His judgment, and our need for repentance!”

Oooo…is this Christine backpedaling from her embrace of Warren’s philosophy? You’ve always admired both Warren’s carrot and Comfort’s stick. Now you’ve reduced them both to terms of ‘readership’. What does popularity have to do with the truth of either proposition? Absolutely nothing.

”Going back to the article. Kupelian states that many of us know how hate can make you "high," and blaming and resenting others "blows your mind clean" of any awareness of your own problems. But he asks this all-important question:
But do we also recognize that getting high on the "drug" of false love, adoration and unconditional approval - everybody telling us how wonderful we are all the time, and our believeing it - also can render us virtually unable to see our own flaws?”


Well, the Romans did: when a conquering general/tribune/senator came home to a Triumph (a celebration, not the car), there was always a slave to ride with him and whisper in his ear, “This, too, shall pass.” Guess those heathens weren’t so dumb after all. (Too bad there was no such person with The Decider when he stood under that “Mission Accomplished” banner.)

Have a good day.

ebsfwan said...

A good example of false righteousness is torturing people in the name of the greater good.

Faultline USA said...

Christine. Thanks for you always thoughtful articles. I’ve read where narcissism is epidemic in the west. No doubt that has a lot to do with celebrity worship, and as you wrote – the need for more approval. “The more approval-oriented we are, the more we feel hurt by criticism - and to the same degree.”

It seems to me that those with an overly strong need for approval are overly focused on self – on how they appear to others. That leaves prescious little time to be focused upon God and God’s will for us, much less time to focus upon the needs of others

Christinewjc said...

Ebsfwan said, "A good example of false righteousness is torturing people in the name of the greater good."

I think an even more obvious example is seeing former President Clinton emerging from a church with a Bible under his arm; then finding out what was going on behind closed doors at the White House.

I agreed with what President Bush said about the Lewinsky scandal at during the 2000 election, "I'm embarrased for my country."

Meanwhile, Bin Laden and the terrorists bombed our embassy and the Cole. Bin Laden and his ilk get away with it because the Clinton Admin. does nothing; especially when they had the chance to get him! Plus, the Jamie Garalick faux pas of passing laws that would hinder the ability of our intelligence agencies to consult directly with our Gov't Security agencies and law enforcement, helped the terrorists to be successful on 9/11.

On the other hand, a man of real, genuine faith now occupies the Oval Office. But he doesn't go around just carrying a Bible under his arm for "show." He actually reads it.

GMpilot said...

CJW: “…a man of real, genuine faith now occupies the Oval Office. But he doesn't go around just carrying a Bible under his arm for "show." He actually reads it.”

Well, let’s see: what parts does he actually read? Perhaps Psalms 2:7~11?

In 2003, Bush told Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas that “God told me to smite [Saddam Hussein]. And I smote him.” I believe he made a similar statement about Osama bin Laden…but something like 1,400 days have passed, and Osama has not been smitten, nor caught.

It’s largely forgotten now that Reagan never attended church when he occupied the White House. He once gave some lame excuse about attending services putting other churchgoers at risk; but when it was pointed out to him that Truman (among others) held services in the White House, he changed the subject. Reagan was known to mouth a few pious phrases too, but he never uttered anything about consulting with his “other father”, as the current President has.

Perhaps the part of the Bible Bush ought to read is Matthew 6:5~6. Either that, or go back to My Pet Goat.

Christinewjc said...

Faultline said, "It seems to me that those with an overly strong need for approval are overly focused on self – on how they appear to others. That leaves prescious little time to be focused upon God and God’s will for us, much less time to focus upon the needs of others."

Good observation and absolutely true! Selfishness (and, as you mentioned, narcissism) is epidemic here. I personally think it's one of Satan's greatest tools to lead people away from knowing God. But the truth be told, each one of us need God desperately! Therein lies the deception and damage...and many people don't even know how deceived they really are!

Christinewjc said...

GMpilot,

Only have a quick minute to reply, but I just have to ask one question. Haven't you read the post where I showed my concern (from day one) about Warren's book not emphasizing the need for repentence? It's a great book for people who are already believers, but it's missing an extremely important portion of the Gospel by skipping over sin and our need to repent.

GMpilot said...

**sigh** Yes, I’ve read it, hostess. I read it then, and again today. I’ve also read some other things you’ve written that are inconsistent with that.

We have your own words on Rick Warren’s mega-bestseller, and how you gave peans of praise for it when it was first published:

”Have you ever read "The Purpose Driven Life" by Rick Warren? It is a fabulous book! I am reading it for the third time together with my teen daughter.”
http://www.talkwisdom.com/forums/showpost.php?p=28&postcount=1

You quoted Jerry Falwell in full, and his declaration that Warren’s book is "A Book Not to be Missed!!
http://www.talkwisdom.com/forums/showpost.php?p=1490&postcount=30

You praised Ashley Smith and her courageous stand against an on-the-loose killer, armed only with her faith and a copy of Warren’s book…at least, until it was pointed out to you later that something else also helped—something Ashley, and certainly Warren, was reluctant to acknowledge: crystal methamphetamine.
http://www.talkwisdom.com/forums/showpost.php?p=3879&postcount=2
http://www.talkwisdom.com/forums/showpost.php?p=6376&postcount=7

You said yourself that after certain omissions were pointed out to you that you began to question what you’d read, but even then you didn’t want to believe it.
http://www.talkwisdom.com/forums/showpost.php?p=3926&postcount=2

This is further evidence of the mind-numbing effects of religion in general, and the Abrahamic ones in particular. Warren, IYO, skipped over the sin. Instead of spotting it, you skipped over the inconsistencies and shilled the book anyway.

I happened to do with religion exactly what you did with The Profi--sorry--Purpose-Driven Life. When I saw that it made no sense, I abandoned it…but you still can’t see that. How obtuse of you.

When you have more time to reply, we’ll talk further.