In his new book Fame Junkies: The Hidden Truths Behind America's Favorite Addiction, Jake Halpern researches America's—specifically teenage America's—obsession with celebrities. Gayle talks with Jake about his book and the reasons why so many people are "fame junkies."
Jake says that when he was a child, he watched Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous—kids today, however, are clued in on celebrity happenings 24/7. "We all know that we live in a culture that puts a huge premium on celebrity," he says. "But I think what we don't like to admit is that there are some dark implications of this and it affects the way young people see the world."
In Fame Junkies, Jake says he surveyed hundreds of teenagers and found some interesting results about their attitudes toward fame. One question Jake asked was, "If you could press a magic button that could make you stronger, smarter, more beautiful or famous, which would you pick?" Jake says the results were very surprising—"We found that boys picked fame almost as often as intelligence, and girls picked fame more often than intelligence," he says.
Something else that Jake says he discovered through his research is that children today have a sense of self-importance that other generations did not have. Jake says perhaps parents and teachers who tried to improve children's self-esteem went too far. "There is a sense that maybe—just maybe—we have shot over the mark, and instead of just having kids that feel good about themselves, we have kids that feel a sense of entitlement," he says.
Not all of his findings are doom and gloom, but Jake says it is obvious that many kids are enticed by celebrities and their lifestyle. "When you drive home the celebrity news and celebrity glorification day in and day out, year after year, you eventually raise a generation of kids whose values and aspirations reflect that," he says.