I remember when I was younger and we would read the list of sins we should definitely stay away from, or maybe even the Ten Commandments. I’d think to myself something along the lines of, “I’m not sure what “covet” means…lying and stealing would be a little difficult to stop, but murder and Idolatry – God Forbid! I would never do that!” Because I could not picture myself killing anyone or building an actual graven image and worshipping that! Who does that?* However, I’ve long since come to discover that worshipping Idols isn’t just a thing of the biblical times.
Most people partake in a different kind of idolatry, in the form of celebrity worship, whereby devoted fanatics worship the image of a public figure personified in the human body of an actual person, who has come to fame one way or another.
They build pedestals or altars and set these celebrities on top of it; worship the idea and image of the person; set up shrines; pay tributes; make sacrifices and offerings; build up expectations based on the image, not the person; attack everything about the “person” that doesn’t match up with the unreasonable expectations; then when a new, better god/goddess comes along, they go ahead and tear down that pedestal (altar) brick-by-brick as they build a different one around the new god/goddess, not even giving a second thought to the emotions and life of the actual persons behind these images. *Ahem* Hathaway à Lawrence à// Nyiong’o *Ahem* Bieber.
The celebrity almost never has much of a say in this procedure – it just happens to most of them. The only thing they can decide are tactics to keep the fame, and stop it from transforming into infamy. Thanks to the wonderful media network, fame has become like a wave, which picks up whomever it wishes, and as that lucky/unlucky person you could either ride it out – reveling in the sensation of being up-lifted by a whole nation – or crash into it.
The latest of these images being worshipped is that of a certain Kenyan-Mexican whose name is Lupita Nyiong’o. While I can’t go as far as saying that I love her – I hardly know her, and I never saw her work, including the Oscar movie – I do appreciate the fact that she’s brought a different kind of beauty into the Hollywood Glamour canon. (I try to avoid incredibly sad true-life movies because I get emotional enough with the fictional stuff. Did someone say, “For Colored Girls”?)
However, I also see that it is the image of this dark-skinned African that is being worshipped, and celebrated. Do I think that her fame will give way for more similarly dark-skinned women in Hollywood? – Not really. You see, if more dark-skinned girls made it into Hollywood, that image would lose its novelty – then what would be the point of celebrating it and her, right? As callous as that may sound, that’s just the way image-worshippers would think. Her image is famous for its novelty, because most people only talk about how much they love her gorgeous dark skin, which has become a sort of fetish. I don’t know much about Alek Wek’s fame, but I get the feeling the beginning of her fame was much like Nyiong’o’s. I also realize that they look nothing alike, although some people have sworn that they do. Anyway…I digress.
My point is, Idolatry is still very much prevalent, and not just as a metaphor! So, where do we draw the line of admiration?
*Just Kidding, I know a lot of religions have images and sculptures they kind of worship in one form or the other