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March 11, 2013 | by  | in Features |
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Ridge over Troubled War

Tabloids, Twitter and reality television shows have exposed celebrities’ lives to such an extent that we can get acquainted from the comfort of our lounge in our mint-green track pants while eating barbecue -flavoured rice crackers and tweeting furiously. I, for one, feel like less of a slob if I’m watching Sally and Jaime Ridge going to Colin Mathura-Jeffree’s ball.

I am a self-confessed Ridges fan, and wholeheartedly believe that somewhere deep down, there’s a Ridges fan in all of us. Anyone brave enough to tell me they “hate” the Ridges is met with (what I hope) is an infuriatingly knowing “sure you do” and a wink, because seriously, they are wonderful. Your secret is safe with me.

I suffer from Celebrity Worship Syndrome (CWS). It is an actual thing. (Yes it is. Yes it is. Google it. I told you.) Coincidentally or not, CWS was first recognised the year that Paris Hilton made a sex tape; or 2003; for the uninformed. Suffereres become obsessed by the glitzy, the glamorous and the gory, and fixate on the personal lives of those in the public eye.

The first state of CWS, ‘entertainment-social’, is considered an acceptable level of interest, while ‘intense-personal’ worshippers are obsessive fans. Those considered to be ‘borderline-pathological’ fantasise about their deep connection with Niall and should seek help. My affinity with Sally and Jaime is probably edging towards (yeah okay, maybe even just beyond) the intense-personal. We are astrologically bound to be BFFs and wear matching chakra bracelets. They just don’t know it yet. A few weeks ago I came dangerously close to borderline-pathological when I saw Sally and her partner Warren (the one she went on a date with on their show, The Ridges – yes, still together!) at the Matakana Markets north of Auckland, I muttered “ugh, typical”, and gleefully texted all my friends as Sally smiled from beneath her Chloe aviators and tapped her Converse-clad foot, while her youngest two children sang “Can you blow my whistle, baby?” to an elderly and respectable audience.

The closest I came to Sally that day was about two metres, thanks to my mother’s generous but horribly obvious attempt at gaining proximity by pretending to examine some nearby artichokes, followed by a mortifying display of pointing and mouthing “she’s right behind you, Pen!” Aside from the embarrassment, I was happy with this. If I had a real conversation with Sally or Jaime, I would probably club myself to death with the aforementioned artichokes. I prefer to keep the Ridges on a lofty perch in the spotlight—a bit like all those animal busts they have on the wall in their hallway. A little bit nice, a little bit scary, a little bit bewildering. I don’t really want to know how or why they got there, why we left them there, or what will happen if they fall down and knock me unconscious.

Celebrities offer a pretty realistic world, separated by only a few million dollars, some plastic surgery and your own TV programme, to transport to in the wee small hours after trying to read your course materials. If you have to go somewhere, then why not escape to the opulent interior of the Kardashian abode, or the smoosh room on Jersey Shore? I’d much rather worry about where Crocadilly has been hidden for half an hour or criticise JLaw’s Oscars dress while I sit here with my rice crackers and mismatched socks, than think about the 3000-word essay that isn’t sitting on my desk.

Celebrity worship is, you could say, my religion. How celebrity worship suddenly became a syndrome, and Catholism and Scientology were left behind, is a bit beyond me. Explain to me how hundreds of girls wetting their pants at the sight of One Direction isn’t a syndrome of being overwhelmed by a god’s presence, and then we’ll talk. Instead of Protestant or Anglican, we could identify as Team Ange or Team Jen (for life). The celebrity hierarchy is, of course, open to debate. Tradtional celebrity worshippers place Michael Jackson as the Lead God, perhaps with John Lennon on backing vocals. Snooki could pass as a modern-day Lucifer. Surely this kind of discussion would be more meaningful and captivating for school students than the standard religious education. ‘Who’s Who in Hollywood’ and ‘How to Grade a Celebrity’ should be essential elements of today’s syllabus – Excellence to anyone who can tell me where Jay Reeve from ZM fits on the spectrum.

Celebrity worshippers are devoted to celebrating the best and worst of humanity through a system of beliefs that aren’t undermined by a big bang theory. In fact it could probably be defined by a big bang theory – I bet you could connect every celebrity by tracing their sexual history… if you want to. Weirdo. And isn’t there something nice about knowing that these gods are really only seperated from us by a stroke of luck or genius, unattainable beauty and a few million dollars? Maybe one day you too will be ‘discovered’ in the street and make it to the big (bang) time. Or at very least, get an Emoji-filled tweet from Sally.

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