Dr. Dre. John Lennon. Will Smith. These celebrities are well-known and respected for their skills in the arts. But even though their fans may make them seem just about perfect, in reality, this couldn’t be further from the truth. Dr. Dre slammed journalist Dee Barnes face first into a concrete wall and tried to throw her down a flight of stairs.
John Lennon was routinely physically and emotionally abusive towards his first wife, Cynthia Lennon, and Will Smith once left a man nearly blind after assaulting him. And yet, very few people ever discuss these violent actions when fawning over the respective celebrities. This is the negative effect of idolization, the blinding overabundance of adoration which can override reason.
Regardless of who it may be, idolizing people can have negative repercussions, especially if we don’t maintain our own sense of identity and morals.
Our world is special because of its diversity: of the people, cultures and ideas within it. However, when people start idolizing others, it can lead to a disregard for one’s own opinion and identity — instead of evaluating an action using our own set of morals, we automatically side with our idol.
Take for example, when Johnny Depp was accused of abusing his ex-wife, Amber Heard. Fans of Depp immediately defended him, automatically accusing Heard of lying without taking the time to carefully review the facts of the case and determine who they truly believed. They simply wanted to protect the perfect, idolized version of him that they had in their minds, so they blindly defended him, almost as if it were reflex.
But defending someone like this should never be reflex. Opinions on certain people should be carefully curated based on one’s own set of values and experiences with them, not a blind love for everything they do. Worshipping the ground beneath someone’s feet is rarely ever a good idea, and yet, that is essentially what idolizing is. The definition of the word itself states that to idolize is “to admire, revere, or love greatly or excessively.” If we follow the age old saying of taking “everything in moderation,” then by definition, idolizing anyone is harmful. It may sound cliché, but how are we supposed to discover who we are if we’re too busy trying to be someone else?
This isn’t to say you can’t have role models, but it is important to know the difference between idolization and having a healthy role model. Having someone to look up to can motivate us to work towards our goal and become better versions of ourselves — but the key point is to stay true to ourselves, as we are the only ones that can implement the improvement we need.