“You look like a celebrity!” cried one girl as I entered the room. This was my first time attending one of Latinitas middle school after school clubs, and I had yet to introduce myself. “You look like a celebrity!” she cried again. “Which one?” I asked. She didn’t know the answer to that, but she was fairly certain I was a celebrity despite my insistence that I was not.
Once everyone was sufficiently star-struck, the meeting continued. Because I was subbing in for a sick club leader, we engaged in a series of ice breakers, followed by personal introductions, and a telling Q&A session.
Since Latinitas is an online magazine, Sam, my fellow club leader and I, asked the girls about their favorite magazines. The immediate storm of responses all pointed to teen magazines aimed at capturing the latest celebrity gossip, drama, and general heartbeat of star-studded culture. The girls liked celebrities, posters of celebrities, quizzes revealing their celebrity crushes, embarrassing celebrity stories, and telenovela magazines.
Our follow up question proved no different. “What are you doing for Spring Break?” and “What kind of music do you girls like?” gave us celebrity heavy answers. The One Direction concert was what one girl cited as her Spring break entertainment, and she was traveling from Austin to Houston, TX to make that happen. Favorite musicians included such big name stars as Nicki Minaj, Ludacris, Selena Gomez, Beyonce, and Justin Beiber.
Following up our Q&A we moved into our formal lesson: the basics of video programming using a program called “Scratch.” We asked the girls to brainstorm worlds in which this video game would take place, who their characters would be, and what the goal of the game would be. They came up with celebrities, on a dance floor, competing to perform various dance moves correctly.
I was shocked. In less than two hours I had been exposed to more celebrities than I am usually exposed to in the space of a week. Growing up, I didn’t idolize celebrities in the same way that I see these young girls doing, which left me reflecting on the answers to various questions: Is the focus on and obsession with celebrity a negative thing for today's youth? Is it a positive thing? Why the increased interest in celebrities? Because the idea of celebrity is now more accessible via mediums such as reality TV, do young girls feel that their future lies within the realm of celebrity? What do you girls think?