People, rather than being heroic and their own self, engage in hero worship
People may, and often do, seek happiness vicariously.
To use Becker's terms, rather than being heroic, rather than being "their own self," they engage in "hero worship." Ironically, the contemporary "heroes" most Americans worship are celebrities, such as movie stars, professional athletes, talk show hosts, and even some politicians. Real heroes are people who either protect an existing way of life (culture) or create a new and better way of life (culture). Today's celebrities typically don't give a "tinker's damn" about either traditional cultural values or improving anyone's life except their own. In other words, they are better seen as leeches who "suck on" the egos of others to enhance their own. We might say celebrities may be considered heroes in pop culture, but pop culture is not truth for happiness.
Pop culture is secular and pleasure oriented; it contains little or no truth for either human existence or happiness.
In a society where many, perhaps a large majority, mistake satisfaction or pleasure for happiness, it is very easy to slide into Huxley's Brave New World." He published this book in 1932, close to the beginning of a decade that followed the Roaring Twenties, which in turn followed the decade of World War I, which produced the feeling that one might as well "eat, drink, and make merry for tomorrow you may die."
In other words, seek pleasure, not happiness.
Brave New World is a world of promiscuous sex, consumerism, and soma, a designer drug that produces an opiate-like "euphoria in unhappiness." The Brave New World is a world of dupes, not unlike a "future world," produced by capitalism, as described in H. G. Wells' The Time Machine. In Wells' future world, weak-willed and docile creatures are kept well fed and satisfied by their masters who live underground . . . until their masters are hungry. Then, these docile creatures march willingly to their fate.
Over the years, the Spotify algorithms have correctly identiﬁed that I tend to like “chill” music of a certain BPM ...
When I design online ads for American Apparel, I almost always look for an angle that will provoke. Outrage, self-righteousness, and titillation all work equally well. Naturally, the sexy ones are probably those you remember most, but the formula worked for all types of images. Photos of kids dressed up like adults, dogs wearing clothes, ad copy that didn’t make any sense—all high-valence, viral images. If I could generate a reaction, I could propel the ad from being something I had to pay for people to see (by buying ad inventory) to something people would gladly post on the front page of their highly trafficked websites.
But entertainment has the merit not only of being better suited to helping sell goods; it is an effective vehicle for hidden ideological messages. Furthermore, in a system of high and growing inequality, entertainment is the contemporary equivalent of the Roman “games of the circus” that diverts the public from politics and generates a political apathy that is helpful to preservation of the status quo.