Our society is fixated on celebrity and the aura surrounding it, believing everyone who’s rich and famous must be happy.
My sister, brother and I flew from Chicago to Los Angeles last week with the goal of spending 5 vacation days with 4 well-loved cousins. On previous visits, we three Midwesterners always pushed for a day’s adventure in Tinsel Town, whether a tour of movie star homes, a visit to the cemeteries where they’re buried, or tickets to the taping of a TV show.
In the 1950’s, we’d seen the making of an “I love Lucy” episode in a cavernous warehouse, sitting with 50 spectators on crude wooden bleachers much like those at a Little League game. Lucy came out in a glittering ball gown and talked with us before her show, and everything was low key.
Last week’s trip to Hollywood (actually Burbank) gave us a modern day perspective on celebrity. Several of us got to attend a taping of “The Tonight Show” hosted by Jay Leno from NBC’s Studio 11. Although tickets are still free, securing them is competitive.
We arrived at 1:00 pm and were lined up with 100 others in a “holding pen” in the studio parking lot. A page showed us how to stand single file on the asphalt, then pointed to the gated lot beyond. “One of those cars is Jay’s,” she said. “He drives a different one every day, choosing from the 250 he owns.” A hushed “ooo” rippled through the line.
An hour later we were briefed: cell phones off; pocket knives and other dangerous items taken back to our cars, along with cameras; food and drink eliminated. We were counted 3 times, then shuttled from the first fenced area to the second. Once again we were lined up, given a numbered badge and recounted multiple times.
In this second waiting area we were put through a metal detector and then cautioned: no one was to change seats with anyone else; if a cell phone was seen, it would be taken; no inappropriate yelling or whistling would be tolerated.
Groups of 50 were led in and given specific instructions on where to sit, 300 people in all. Once seated, we noticed guards posted every few yards and not just run-of-the-mill security guards, but genuine Burbank policemen packing side arms. Times have changed.
Today’s rich and famous have to fence themselves in from the public that’s in awe of them. Celebrity watchers can over-love, much like a toddler over-loves a new baby. People like Britney Spears or Johnny Depp would be literally torn apart if it weren’t for muscle-bound guards keeping the adoring public at bay.
I can’t help but compare this misplaced celebrity worship to our thoughts about a worship-worthy God. Do we get this excited about him? Would there ever be a need for armed guards to keep us from over-loving him? Even when he calls to us, often we don’t respond, the opposite of the response a celebrity receives. Does this grieve him? Scripture says it does.
Should it grieve us?
Yes, since God is the only Person meriting hero worship. Although a celebrity may be on the top of the popularity heap for a time, most fall eventually as another takes their place. A “will be” can quickly become a “has been.”
God is the only one on top of the whole heap without a single competitor. And interestingly, every Hollywood celebrity will one day submit to him, agreeing that he is greater than they could ever be. He is and always will be #1, and when we’re tempted to go gaga over a movie star, we ought to remember the Star who put the real stars into space, just one of his many talents.
“I, Jesus, am… the bright Morning Star.” (Revelation 22:16)