McGarvey: Public brings average Joes into an unearned spotlight


Courtesy of Ellen Degeneres

Sometimes a pretty face just isn’t a good enough reason to become famous.  The recent controversy with Alex from Target has sparked many debates and conversations about why he is fit to be famous.

Sean Mcgarvey

Alex from Target is the latest occurrence of our society promoting ordinary people into instances of stardom.

This normal 16-year-old was simply doing his job one day, and the next day he was an internet sensation with thousands of new fangirl followers. He surely had no intention of having a picture of himself in a Target uniform being plastered all over the web, but it happened.

It’s not the first time, nor will it be the last time, that an average person becomes the next big thing on the internet. Our society tends to praise simple men and women and promote them until they have reached a viral sensation. In Alex’s case, he became such a big hit online, Ellen DeGeneres featured him on her talk show. He even received an iPad in order to tweet more to his new-found fan base.  

Having Alex on Ellen could be seen as a way for TV producers to boost their ratings. They grab hold of whatever the newest sensation is and use them until their worth has diminished. Two examples come to mind when I think about our society idolizing the average person. The first is the Kardashian family.

Their rise to stardom was a direct result of Kim Kardashian’s actions. She made and released a sex tape with a B-list rapper named Ray-J in 2007. Later that year, the Kardashian family had agreed to a deal with E! to be the stars of their own reality television show. After the show’s launch, the world had begun to tune in and watch the dysfunctional Kardashians and their rise to fame through entertainment and style. The Kardashians are the epitome of the phrase, “famous for being famous.”

Why our society praises these people is beyond me. One could only assume that we watch reality shows like this to make ourselves feel better about our own daily dysfunction.

Another star not shying away from reality TV and dysfunction is Honey Boo-Boo. She made her way onto television in a show entitled, “Toddlers and Tiaras,” a show dedicated to the world of beauty pageants for kids.

In 2012, Honey Boo-Boo received her own show called, “Here Comes Honey Boo-Boo.” The 6-year old girl from Georgia captured the attention of over 2 million viewers for the premiere of the season. The series ran for 2 years and was cancelled in August of this year 

Whether it’s Alex from Target, the Kardashian family or Honey Boo-Boo, we all need to take a deeper look at why these people seem important. The use of social media and the constant innovation of technology may be a factor in the increasing popularity of apparent nobodies. Alex from Target didn’t do anything special to get his picture plastered all over the internet. He states in his interview with Ellen on her show, his shift wasn’t even over and random girls were showing up at Target wanting to see him.

The Kardashian family, along with Honey Boo-Boo, are simply marketing tools for entertainment companies to make an easier buck. The estimated viewership of each episode of Honey Boo-Boo throughout the four seasons is 1.8 million people. She’s not even 10 years old and she’s having star treatment wherever the show takes her. At least wait until she’s a teenager to expose her to the greedy entertainment corporations looking to capitalize on society’s need for reality. Like the Kardashians.

The cable television channel E! reports that the oldest Kardashian sisters are equal to $83 million. That’s $18 million for Kourtney and $65 million for Kim. Kim even made $5 million dollars on her exposed sex tape, which propelled her into this celebrity life. 

We pay too much attention to the unimportant people in the world. Alex was a checker from Target who didn’t have any say in the matter when it came to his stardom. The reality television stars are taking up our time and money only for us to watch them be put on a show.

Instead of focusing on these people, we need to concentrate on the people who do actual work. The EMTs in Ferguson, Missouri, for example. They suit up in full armor before continuing to do their jobs helping those who are injured.

Other people to keep in mind are the local volunteer groups. Organizations like CyServe Council, which dedicates six days out of the school year to help clean up campus, is one such group. Other student volunteers include those who spend their spring breaks overseas helping other countries improve their way of life. These are the individuals we should be celebrating.

Put down the remote, think before you retweet the picture of that random guy and start looking at the people who are making a difference.