Sundance & The Celebrity Culture

I’m a huge movie fan.  I love watching films.  You can guess how I excited I was to find out that I had the opportunity to go this year’s Sundance Film Festival in Park City, Utah.  There’s no greater showcase of independent moviemaking than this festival which has impacted in profound ways the film business in America.  Plus, I got a chance to ski the absolutely beautiful mountains there.  In my next post, I’ll give a brief review of the six films I saw at the Festival.  But, I wanted to write a blog about one aspect of my experience there: the celebrity hype.

Coming out of the restroom at a ski lodge, I noticed someone who looked like Kevin Bacon walking in.  Yet, I wasn’t quite sure if it was truly him.  So, despite the appearance of being a stalker, I walked back into the restroom and rewashed my hands in order to get a second look.  I still wasn’t sure.  So, I sat down at the bench right outside the bathroom and unbuckled my boots, so that I could rebuckle them again and look like I had a reason for sitting there- other than being a stalker.  Sure enough, it was Kevin Bacon.  I told my wife and the other six people with us found out, and all pseudo-secretly went to see him as well.  I wondered if I would see any celebrities there.  I walked past Luke Wilson, George Lopez, and Morgan Spurlock (Super-Size Me).  I got to hear Ray Romano, Brian Cox, Paul Giammati, and Billy Crudup get up and speak after I saw the movies they starred in.  As a movie fan, it was really fun to see people whose movies I have enjoyed.
The weird part of it was how big a deal it was to everyone down there to see celebrities.  I even surprised myself with my bizarre behavior to see if it really was Kevin Bacon I saw.  I think part of our desire to see, meet, and maybe even know celebrities might be a desire to feel special.  We derive something from being in contact with great people.  We get some of their glory from just knowing them.  There’s something not so wrong or bad about that.  When it becomes dark is when it gets out of proportion.  When you see the desperation some people have to meet the celebrities and the amount of significance they attach to it, it’s actually quite sad.  One reason is that when you see the celebrities, you realize they are just people.  Kevin Bacon in a black one-piece snowsuit with a ski helmet looks just as awkward and silly as anyone does.  You also realize from the perspective of the celebrities why all this attention stinks.  They are not the people their fans think they are.  They are not that great and glorious that they deserve that attention.
The issue at the base of all of this, is that we are lacking in greatness.  We are lacking glory.  We are incapable of getting back the glory we were meant to have.  It’s why it is so sad to see us derive so much glory from meeting other messed up human beings.  For celebrities, even the glory they have is a pseudo-glory- short-lived and not based in reality.  This idea, though, of deriving glory from knowing someone is a profoundly biblical idea.  It’s knowing the right person who is truly glorious, nothing but glorious.  His greatness is immeasurable.  This is where our significance should derive from: knowing the creator and redeemer of the universe, God himself.
As a fan, I am thankful for the opportunity to see in person, fellow human beings whose gifts I truly respect and admire.  Yet, I recognize even more how much I need to redirect my heart to the truly glorious One.

About Ryan Wampler

Much of my thinking is trying to connect the dots between the Bible, the lens through which I see the world, and the way I actually live my life. I’m a Mizzou grad, and got a theological education at a post-grad school in St. Louis. My particular areas of interest are: reflecting on books and films and connecting theology and culture.
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