Farrah Abraham Goes to Rehab, Becomes the Perfect Post-Modern Celebrity
Reality television stars may not be America's most beloved celebrities, but they're some of the most important. There has been a lot written about how reality television lets us indulge our inner monsters, but there's more to be said about the celebrities who emerge from these shows as warped images of what we think fame should look like.
That image was never more realized than in Farrah Abraham Monday, when it was announced that the Teen Mom star will enter rehab for alcohol abuse. So far, Abraham has checked off all the important milestones for a reality television star: partying excessively, getting breast implants, recording a terrible album, releasing a sex tape, and now, going to rehab. Her interview with RadarOnline.com reads like her publicist wrote it for her and includes some of the greatest hits of going-to-rehab phrases like "at this time in my life," "stay focused on the positive," and "make better choices." And the fact that she's only going for 10 days makes the move seem all the more stunt-like.
The Farrah who's in the public eye has become less of an actual person and more of a funhouse mirror image of celebrity reflected back at us. It's what happens when an average person rockets to fame in a matter of months solely for the fact that their face is on television. Farrah Abraham, Jenelle Evans, Heidi Montag, Courtney Stodden: these women digested media images of fame their whole lives, so when they became famous, they regurgitated those images back at us. They saw that famous women with small waists and huge breasts, so they got plastic surgery. They saw famous women who made the news from their DUIs, so they doubled down on their partying.
What's worse is that these women are encouraged to destroy themselves for fame. Because reality show stars make money off their personal lives being documented rather than any marketable skill, the more scandalous their lives become, the more successful they become. And plastic surgery is one thing, but when a teen mom is inebriated and the cameras keep rolling, that only enables her behavior.
Women like Farrah Abraham are the symptom of a lot of different problems in pop culture: unrealistic depictions of women in the media, the natural pressures of fame, our culture's addiction to scandal, and of course, reality television. And realistically, none of these problems will go away anytime soon. But at the very least, shortening a reality star's 15 minutes of fame will create fewer victims of reality television fame. People from Intervention or True Life don't become household names because they don't get the chance, so maybe giving these people less time on screen will give them more time to work on the problems in their personal lives. Because these modern-day reality stars say something about the state of celebrity these days: exploiting your personal life for fame has become a lifestyle, and it's something that can destroy you.