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DEBATE THIS: Are we celeb obsessed sycophants?

TIFF used to be sooo cool when Jesus of Montreal came out in 1989. No guys being whimsical, no celebrity kiss ups. No more. Toronto is sycophant city, Shaun Proulx says.

TIFF used to be sooo cool when Jesus of Montreal came out in 1989. No guys being whimsical, no celebrity kiss ups. No more. Toronto is sycophant city, Shaun Proulx says.

 

SHAUN PROULX/ 24 HOURS

In 1989 I stood in a quiet line with my friend Val at the Toronto Festival of Festivals, which was showing a movie called Jesus of Montreal by director Denys Arcand.

There were no crowds, advance tickets, lineups and, most importantly, no Hollywood, which meant the number of star stalkers needing to be at the epicentre of celebrity were precisely zero.

Not the case today, where, come Toronto International Film Festival time, every five-star hotel in the city is ready with barricades, security and crowd control to protect Hollywood’s elite from ... us.

Some Torontonians have become positively ... American ... these days, with mad fanning and fawning over visiting celebrities; remember when stars thought Toronto was cool because we left them alone?

What changed, and why?

The increasing dominance of celebrity in our culture plays a role, but for those who would line up in hopes of seeing or being seen with a celebrity, even the potential win boosts identity, particularly with those who lack one. Showing yourself with a celebrity (likely leaving out the part where you slept in the streets overnight, praying) gives you (but, sadly, only you) a certain cachet that feels good.

Psychologists call it Celebrity Worship Syndrome, and while there are different levels, one study in Britain says 36% of participants suffered from CWS; stalking stars like some do at TIFF is actually considered an extreme of the disorder.

Some should take this as a warning sign: the potential of a selfie with a stranger should never take bigger priority than the life a fan could and should be focused on: their own.

Many who fall deep into celeb worship are abnormal pathology waiting to happen. If not focused on celebrity, it would be focused on something else. But it would still be there, and was there all along.

This TIFF, should you be thinking of spending hours of your time — which you never get back — hoping to spot a star, remind yourself that that stranger is no bigger a star than the one you are.

And then decide how you’re going to spend your valuable time.