Paramore and The Power of Celebrity

Picture the scene, the date is 28th September 2013 and the location is Wembley Arena, England. A young 18 year old guy, obsessed with Paramore, stands, heart pounding furiously, adrenaline at its highest and his long term role model asks everyone in the arena to put their lights and phones up, and begins to play one of his favourite songs. As he stands, in awe, and in love with everything going on at that precise moment he scans around to find, decorating the room are thousands of white lights, illuminating the beauty of music, of mutual love, and of inspirations.

You can take a pretty good guess and ask “was that guy you?” “yes, interested reader, yes it was” and it was one of the greatest moments of my young life. It is no secret that one of the greatest celebrity role models, and influences in my life is Hayley Williams of Paramore. My obsession with the band and the inspiration that Hayley Williams has been on me got me thinking; Just how powerful is the power of ‘celebrity’?

I use ‘Celebrity’ in inverted commas, because the word itself has been slightly distorted and I’m not 100% sure that it’s original definition would have quite such a profound truth in comparison to today’s definition. After all with the internet, and with the popularity of reality tv series in recent years, being a ‘celebrity’ means different things to different people, and in different industries. So, I’m going to talk about ‘celebrity’ as more of the figurative and highly influential phenomenon of what it means to be in the limelight, and the bizarre … thing that seems so grand that it should have its own terminology. Thus, if ‘celebrity’ is defined in different ways, and as ‘fame’ is something different that, in itself, warrants a completely different discussion, can we then call this aura ‘Influerity’ an invisible, pressurising aura that comes with that fame? Almost like a mentality? I apologise for the highly un-creative naming of ‘influerity’ (influence+celebrity if you hadn’t figured) but it seems the most sensible.

We know the stories of celebrities that have gone down the wrong path, or that have, in general, not been a great influence. We also know the stories of people that have been huge influences, and are a great role model, and yet somehow these celebrities can be understated, or even slated. Seeing as this is almost a sort of essayistic blog post already, why don’t I throw in an example? How about the women I’ve been in awe of since I was ten/eleven (I’m twenty now) Hayley Williams. Beautiful, passionate and a perfect example of  a celebrity that successfully deals with ‘Influerity’. Hayley has been in one of the most popular bands in the world since she was around sixteen. Ten years on and turning twenty-seven this year, she’s matured, her voice is even more kick-ass and her never-ending spirit and morals are…never ending. For a child turned teenager turned whatever-i-am-now whose had different problems and spent most of his school life not sorting the majority of them out, Paramore was a huge influence on helping me through that.

Sat at a computer, I would (and still do) search on YouTube endlessly looking at Hayley Williams interviews, covers, Paramore live concerts, tour videos etc so I guess Paramore, and Hayley especially became that ‘famous’ role model of my adolescence. Even now (possibly even more so) Paramore seems to have this unbreakable glow and spirit despite the knock backs and despite the pressure of a constant evil judging their images. That’s infectious and always has been. I suppose it was even more of an influence because it seemed as if I was growing up with them, only roughly 6 years apart (excluding Jeremy) I was following a band, and a lead singer that still had time to mature (like me) through adolescence. They did it with style, while keeping grounded, while also turning from a five piece band to a three piece band. Not always easy. Perhaps most of all though, and I appreciate this more now I’m older … plain and simply Hayley Williams is a wonderful and genius lyricist. One lyric in particular which undoubtedly will have been missed by some is one from the film ‘Jennifer’s Body’ (which I admit up front, I have not seen, but I have heard the song). The song is ‘Teenagers’ and the lyrics are as follows:

“Why must we all make sense

of what just wont make sense?

For once I’m just gonna live

I’m just gonna live”

Despite not seeing the film, it is this kind of mentality, and feeling that Hayley has always seemed to emit. This feeling that sometimes things in our lives happen that don’t make sense but in the end they don’t have to, so ‘why must we all make sense” of it? Because sometimes it’s better to just accept that it doesn’t make sense, and in order to move on one should think “For once I’m just gonna live”. For a teenage boy like me that mentality was incredibly helpful, although I struggled sometimes to completely go along without that ideal, the fact the influence of it was there made life that little bit easier.

I could go on for hours and hours about Paramore (and I have) and about the 2013 concert as a whole, which it is more than likely I will write a post on because although words cannot describe it, it’s nice to try to. But my main point is that this daunting aura of ‘influerity’ is a huge pressure on celebrities, and some struggle with it, and others thrive on it; one thing that cannot be denied however is it’s insane influence on their followers. Celebrities like Hayley Williams (and Taylor, and Jeremy) have dealt with that ‘Monster’ (see what I did there ;)) so well that its inspiring, and it can truly change lives.

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