Celebrity & Entertainment Obsession: Understanding Our Addiction by Michael S. Levy, PhD

Celebrity & Entertainment Obsession

was written to shed light on why we as a society are
obsessed with people who work in the entertainment
field - movies and television, singers, musicians, sports
figures and people on reality TV. 

Synopsis - 

“Our celebrity captivation seems out of proportion,” says Michael S. Levy, PhD, addiction expert and author of CELEBRITY & ENTERTAINMENT OBSESSION: Understanding Our Addiction

Dr. Levy wrote CELEBRITY & ENTERTAINMENT OBSESSION to shed light on why we as a society are obsessed with people who work in the entertainment field—movies and television in particular—but singers, musicians sports figures and people on reality TV as well. Dr. Levy, whose previous book, Take Control of Your Drinking…and You May Not Need to Quit, resonated with many people, finds it remarkable that people who work in the entertainment field get more recognition and adoration than a competent brain surgeon who saves people’s lives, or a pathologist who has made inroads in cancer treatment.

This wasn’t always the case. Sixty years ago, a Gallup Poll study showed that people who were most admired included Einstein, Winston Churchill, Eisenhower and Douglas MacArthur. Not one entertainer, sports star or media personality made the list. Fast-forward to 2000 – 2009 and we have stars like Bono, Tiger Woods, and Denzel Washington making the list.

Dr. Levy can discuss society’s obsession with beauty, how our vulnerability to addiction, our need for idols and our voyeuristic predispositions all contribute to our celebrity obsession as well as:

• How the mass media controls our thinking, the nature of our social intercourse and interactions with each other and our preoccupation with celebrities

• How the media exploits our voyeurism and how our voyeurism serves as a form of distraction and amusement

• Why being entertained has become our primary preoccupation

• Why celebrities’ real-life, off-screen stories get more publicity than anything they have done in their careers

Dr. Levy laments that television news programs focus as much, if not more, on the lives of high-profile celebrities than about other more important issues of the day. He believes that our obsession with entertainers is something to be concerned about since we will have missed opportunities to learn from others who could provide us with valuable ideas and standards for our young people. While the entertainment machine has given us a quick fix to feel good, Dr. Levy asks: “is our obsession with celebrities the best use our time? What will be important to reflect on at the end of our lives: Will it be what we knew about some celebrity or might it be something else?”

Review -

I have been baffled for many years now on the mania I see surrounding celebrities, especially reality TV stars, so was excited to have a chance to review Celebrity & Entertainment Obsession. While I expected a light overview of the subject aimed at the general population, I quickly discovered I was utterly mistaken. Author Michael S Levy, PHD, has offered up an in depth look on society's current obsession with celebrities and entertainment. Drawing from his long career as a clinical psychologist, he explores the subject from many angles and offers tons of examples in support.

This book looks at our very humanity - who we are as a species. Then it adds our changing environment that has moved from a time where our very survival took every hour of the day and all our energy, to current times where we have free time to fill and money to spend. Levy looks at our feelings of isolation, our desire to feel good, our need to be entertained, addiction, the effect of mass communications and how adept the entertainment industry has become in capturing our attention.

Celebrity & Entertainment Obsession is a great read for anyone interested in seriously exploring this subject, but it's not a fast read. You need to take your time and absorb what each chapter offers before moving on. I want to offer kudos to the author as well for being concerned about the ramifications of this phenomenon and wanting to do more than shed a light on the subject. In his epilogue he offers a section called, "Is There A Way Out?"  Here you'll find ideas for parents and educators to help children understand the influence media has on their lives. A great way to close.

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Meet The Author -

Michael S. Levy, PhD is a clinical psychologist who is the director of substance use services at North Shore Medical Center in Salem, Massachusetts. He also maintains a private practice in psychotherapy in Andover, Massachusetts and is a lecturer in psychiatry at Harvard Medical School. He has often been interviewed on radio and television. Levy has published numerous articles and book chapters, gives many lectures and workshops, and is the author of one previous book, Take Control of Your Drinking...And You May Not Need to Quit.

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