What do celebrity figures and terrorist organisation leaders have in common?

Who would have thought that links could be made between the stereotypical celebrity figure, and terrorist organisation leaders? Indeed, looking into each persona, surprising associations can be made regarding their visions, desires and personalities.

Often, both are motivated by idealistic visions. They seek to become widely known and acclaimed, and their success rests largely upon their fame, which is often dictated by the media's presentation of them. Both celebrities and terrorists seek to provide new stunts, schemes and initiatives not only to improve their status and draw attention to their cause, but also to ensure their supporters/fans remain loyal and interested. A notable attack, or a bitchy catfight with another diva attracts the media like flies to porta-loos on a hot day!

Many acts succeed in their aim of capturing media attention. Janet Jackson's 'wardrobe malfunction'... was it an accident or a meticulously planned attention seeking paparazzi episode? Regardless of the truth, media frenzy sensationalised the issue not just through America, but worldwide, elevating Ms Jackson to the world stage for weeks following the incident.
Similarly, terrorist acts would have little affect in the social, economic and political sphere without the media's hunger for a dramatic tale. In urban Latin America, where even small house bombings can be guaranteed a front-page newspaper spot, the media provide the hype and attention terrorist groups relish in response to their politically motivated destructive actions.
Globalisation of modern technology available is making it increasingly easier to spread stories to a worldwide audience, a potent tool for terrorists and celebrities wanting to make a strong impact.

And this strong impact often provides an outlet for people seeking something stable to hold onto at this time of liquid modernity. In our ever-changing world, people are increasingly seeking out prominent figures to act as a centrifugal force as a way of re-establishing their identity. Both superstars and terrorist leaders use deliberate charm to rally supporters for their cause. Charismatic leaders and icons are responsible for building specific images (such as Bin Ladin's video releases, and Pink's bad girl representation), designed to draw supporters through use of trash TV (or media glorification).

While celebrities relish in their fandom, which allows them to dictate methods of dress and speech, ("oh that's so hot!") terrorist organisations often take it upon themselves to promote fundamentalist religious interpretation as means of identification during this era of rapid social change. Ultimately, it's validation through association. In the terrorist form, their plight comes from their staunch desire to combat increasing secularism, moral relativism and self-indulgence. This resurgence of religion can be explained by perceiving spirituality as a method of self-definition, returning to the fundamental moral ways set out by religious texts, and adopting them into modern life to rebuild a sense of identity in a world that has seemingly lost its meaning, whilst become uncertain and isolating.

Yet, just as fame is often but 15-seconds, despite their idealistic intentions, terrorist organisations are not generally successful in achieving their obsessive, idealistic, political aims. Ultimately it is merely via their sensationalised violent acts by which are remembered.

Rachel Flitman



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