In his first lecture, Mark Driscoll addressed how we are created to reflect, mirror and image God, but through our sin, we have a proclivity to, rather than reflect God, fall into one of two idolatrous options.
The first is that we worship ourselves. “This is, perhaps best evidenced by Maslow’s hierarchy of needs. In his hierarchy, Maslow says that our greatest need is self-actualization,” says Driscoll.
Our second option is to we worship other people. This accounts for rise of celebrity culture.
Radio personality Dr. Drew Pinsky has come across this condition that people are suffering from the effects of mirroring other people. We no longer have role models, we have celebrities.
What we need, Driscoll argues, are role models. People would live an exemplary life, a model life, and we would imitate them (cf. Hebrews 13). You don’t worship them, but you learn from them how to be a better mirror. (As an aside, Driscoll is impressed that in God’s common grace and general revelation, the non-Christian radio host can identify the same problem that Scripture reveals, even if his solutions are different.)
“Today we have celebrities. They’re not role models. They’re infamous for bad behavior. But they haven’t done anything,” says Driscoll. “‘The only way to become a celebrity is to do something extreme,’ says Dr. Drew in The Mirror Effect. There’s a cultural appetite for more extreme examples.”
Body image addiction. We have to know what people where, what people weigh, what plastic surgery they’ve had…
Hyper-sexuality. Who is sleeping with whom? Whose gay, straight, bisexual?
Substance abuse. Food, drugs, alcohol… “Celebrity culture assumes that you’ll be spending a lot of time in rehab,” says Driscoll.
Violent and dangerous behavior. “Jack-ass,” featuring Johnny Knoxville is a perfect example of this. Cutting. Bodily injury. Dangerous behavior.
“In this celebrity culture of narcissism, where people say ‘I want to be known, I want to be seen,’ they have to do something extreme. So people will pay attention to you. So they will worship you,” he continues. “What fuels this is reality TV and daytime talk shows. Starts with Phil Donahue and goes on to Jerry Springer, Oprah and Dr. Phil. People are brought out, treated like celebrities.”
The media used to provide a filter for us, but thanks to blogs, Facebook, Twitter, and every other option available on the internet, people are able to make themselves internet celebrities.
Celebrities model idolatry. What they do, what they where, what they drink…
Driscoll says, quoting Dr Drew, “Celebrities like all narcissists rely on the world as a mirror, constantly gazing outward in search of gratification or affirmation, in order to stave off their unbearable feelings of internal emptiness…”
Mirror Effect Steps
Our celebrity idolatry works itself out in four steps, what Driscoll calls the mirror effect steps:
- Steady diet of narcissistic celebrities made interesting and attractive. Magazines, websites, TV all contribute to this.
- Celebrity behavior beings to seem normal or even desirable. We want to do what our celebrity idols are doing, and behave the way that they’re behaving. You see this with how girls imitate their favorite pop singer and how boys… well, boys just tend to break stuff (so maybe they’re imitating the guys on “Jack-Ass”?
- Celebrity behavior adopted. As behavior has been normalized, we mirror this same behavior in our own lives.
- Technology used to reflect the celebrity in an effort to become one. Driscoll uses the example of celebrities who make their own sex tapes and post them online and how now there are websites for people do the same in an effort to become a celebrity, too.
Identifying the Idol
How often do you check your Facebook page?
How often do you check your email?
Your Twitter feed?
Your MySpace page?
What is most important to you? What’s your life’s goal?
“51% listed becoming famous as their first or second priority. Generous? No. Humble? No. People today would rather be famous than rich,” says Driscoll incredulously.
“If you assume that were all worshippers, and … you assume that religion is not simply the profession of faith, but sacrificial acts, you have to assume that celebrity culture is nothing short of a religion,” he concludes. “The result of this is that we destroy these people.”