Thursday, November 13, 2008

Projection 1 - Celebrity

for NaBloPoMo

Every so often, things remind me of other things that I want to explore.

The general theme here for the sake of cohesion is projection.

By projection, I mean the way we assume things about other people based not only on what little scrap of them we actually know, but what is inside us interpreting that small bit of information. It's a big deal in the psychology world. It's rampant in everyday life!

So, projection is especially noticeable when you have someone who you see a lot of but don't actually know much about.

You can observe them doing what they do, and you can even observe things about them that lead you to conclude who they are and what they are like. But we don't (or very rarely) know what another person is truly like. We have to extrapolate based on our own experiences. And there's where it gets tricky. Because we are not inside their heads! If anything, we are all inside our own heads. And our heads are saying things like: OMG, she is amazingly awesome! Isn't it wonderful? Or: He is really messed up. I can't stand the way he gets that look on his face as if he is too superior to breathe the same air as me.

So most of us do not record or notice things outside of ourselves dispassionately. We are always subscribing motives and reasons, though this is mostly subconscious. I know Buddhists try to observe *themselves* thinking, and that can be an interesting way of noticing ones own internal dialogue of judging. Even scientists have to train themselves to be objective, and even then, they acknowledge that they cannot remove all bias from their observations.

Anyway, back to the celebrity.

When we see someone out there in public, projection kicks in big time. Maybe that "celebrity" is just getting more attention than the average bear, maybe a lot of people really like and admire them. Maybe they write a really popular blog, maybe they are even on stage performing in some way. For whatever reason, you are seeing more of them and they are putting themselves out there... except it's still only a very small slice of who they really are! The public persona (even if that persona includes "being real" or "open") is an awfully small piece to base our judgements on.

So we look at that semi- or hugely-famous person and think a number of things:

Admiration - I'd love to be like her. Her writing style is amazing, her kids are so well-raised, she always looks so put together, she seems so self-confident and friendly. Gosh, she's really cool! Hi!

Jealousy - Her writing style is amazing, she has it all together. What does she do that makes her so special? Everything comes easy for her. She doesn't even appreciate how lucky she is! Gah! I can't stand the sight of her!

Loathing - She's such a snot. Thinks she knows it all. Thinks she's so hot. How dare she act like she has all the answers? So immature. So insecure. So brainless and cruel. She needs to grow up and get a clue. You don't treat people like that. Ugh! I can't stand the thought of her! Get her off my screen!

Interest & Intrigue - That's interesting. I like the way she thinks. I don't agree with that one thing, but I can see where she's coming from. I wonder what she has to say about ___.

[Feel free to add to the list!]

All of our own feelings of self-admiration, self-insecurity, self-loathing, and self-interest come out in our judgements. Also, all of our desires to see people as good, worthy, feel-good human beings come out, our desire to hang on to the fun and wonderful qualities we crave.

The celebrities we love, we admire as possessing aspects that remind us of qualities we'd want for ourselves. The celebrities we loathe reminds us of parts of ourselves we'd rather forget. It's much easier to put it all out there so that they can carry it for us, rather than owning our own shining and dark aspects.

It's awkward to be the fan girl or fan boy sometimes... That part of the celebrity who is So Cool draws us in... and we know we are acting a little star-struck, but we can't help it. We want them to like us. We want to be like them. We want them to pay attention to us so some of that glowing quality rubs off on us.

Or to be around someone who pushes our buttons? Whoo-boy! Our distain knows no boundaries. "Who died and made them God?" We'll throw any kind of disparagement at them to keep them away from us. Ugh!

And when one is on the other side? It can be a little uncomfortable then too. People see what they gravitate towards, whether they need to feel good or superior or whatever. Other people do not see the complexity that is the celebrity's whole self. One gets held to an impossible standard, often to the disappointment and disillusionment of the fans. "I am so disappointed that she wasn't as wonderful as I thought!" The halo or horns affect creates a glow that makes it hard to appreciate the full complexity of a person. Sometimes the glow makes it hard to get to the real person, the real person, the real life behind the celebrity.

And sometimes as a celebrity of any sort, one would like to be free of the incessant attachment/detachment of others projecting their bits of personal stuff onto ones persona. It can be hard to live with, fighting past the glow or the glares.

And that's all I can say about that before my NaBloPoMo daily deadline gives out for the day. :)

Happy Projection Contemplation!

No comments: