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Monday, June 29, 2009

Celebrity: What Is It?

Angelina Jolie
Celebrity is a term of status based upon a person's desire to be to be notable. and particularly in Western culture, a celebrity is an extroverted individual who seeks media attention. A celebrity is famously recognized in society by terms such as household name or superstar. Another categorization of celebrity status is the A-list, based on marketability of celebrities. For example, Will Smith, Johnny Depp, and Brad Pitt are currently very bankable members of the list of major movie stars. Still, one's profession, beauty, infamy, or just fate can create celebrity status. Brad Pitt A reluctant celebrity seeks a very private life and attempts to keep away from the public eye. However, those in the spotlight often suffer the humiliation and disgrace of having statements about them - true or untrue - broadcast for millions to find. The extent and quality of celebrity news in the media appear to be poor, multiplying at such a rate that "legitimate" news has fallen in precedence. Bruce Springsteen At the other end of the spectrum, a celebrity that seeks out publicity for him, or herself, is often called a media tart, whereas one that uses his or her private life as a vehicle for enhanced celebrity status, sometimes desperately, is referred to as a media whore. Scandal, faked or real relationships, nudity-- all can be tools of the media tart. Jennifer Aniston Today, an unquenchable public desire and fascination for celebrity gossip about exists. Gossip columnists, tabloid papers, celebrity blogging, entertainment channels, and paparazzi are familiar fixtures in spreading news about famous people. Professions most likely to produce celebrities are television and movie actors, politicians, national news reporters, television hosts, supermodels, athletes, and musicians. Very few humanitarians (Mother Teresa being one notable exception) make the celebrity grade. Kobe Bryant Author Bob Greene's article “The New Stardom That Doesn't Require Paying Any Dues,” argues for “most of man's history...people of talent would work to create something--something written, something painted, something sculpted, something acted out--and it would be passed on to audiences.” With the rise of reality TV shows, Greene points out audiences have been turned into the creators. He argues the “alleged stars of the reality shows "Survivor" and "Big Brother" have become famous not for doing, but merely for being.” (Jewish World Review, September 14, 2000.) Greene goes on to point out that celebrity now means just being present in "the right place at the right time." Madonna Of course, some believe that true fame (almost unknown before the 20th Century), not necessarily celebrity, is granted to those who reach the global mass media. Clive James, an Australian writer, contends society now has the phenomenon of people who are "famous for being famous." Such instantaneous fame is now easily marketed by the paparazzi on a daily basis. Scholars contend mainstream media content of the famous is most likely increasing in sensationalism due to competition with celebrity news sources, particularly those online. Oprah Winfrey A 2008 survey for the Association of (English) Teachers and Lecturers (ATL) reported in BBC News found some 60% of teachers said their pupils most aspired to be David Beckham, English footballer. The same survey revealed that more than third of the pupils wanted to be famous for the sake of being famous, and some 32% of the 304 teachers quizzed said their pupils modelled themselves on heiress Paris Hilton. Do celebrities have an obligation to be positive role models for young adults? Does the media have an obligation to report fewer stories of the infamous? Beyonce Knowles And, everyone is familiar with Andy Warhol's phrase "15 minutes of fame" as a route to celebrity. These “celebs” are the nobodies, turned somebodies, and are often turned into notable people based on the ridiculous things they do. Are some celebrities just regular people living their lives under a microscope of sensational behavior? Stephen Spielberg The cult of celebrity is often seen as shallow, and deeper academic research can be very useful in understanding why celebrities fascinate the public and why so many people desperately want to pursue the limelight and aim to become celebrities themselves. Tiger Woods "An overwhelming majority of the public (87%) says celebrity scandals receive too much news coverage. This criticism generally holds across most major demographic and political groups. Virtually no one thinks there is too little coverage of celebrity scandals," according to new national survey by the Pew Research Center for the People & the Press. (August 2, 2007) Here are some statistics found in the study when the public was asked "Who's to blame for the amount of coverage these stories receive?" There is some indication that celebrity may be waning. For example, advertising may have reached a crossroads where over-exposed celebrities have saturated the market. According to a post in a recent researchandmarkets.com entry, the concept of celebrity has transcended attachment to individual people and become attached in some cases to actual products. For example, personal technology has become dominated by products that have effectively achieved celebrity status themselves, so actual celebrity endorsement is not even necessary. The product, itself, is the celebrity. Jessica Hahn And, yet even as the world economy melts down, scholarly publishers have identified at least one new growth industry: the study of celebrity. Insight into the status of fame is giving new insights into the phenomena.

In a new, positive slant on celebrity, the Routledge empire, founded in 1836, leads the way in promoting many academics to become celebrities. Its website explains: “We have published many of [the] greatest thinkers and scholars of the last 100 years, including Adorno, Einstein, Russell, Popper, Wittgenstein, Jung, Bohm, Hayek, McLuhan, Marcuse and Sartre.”

This November, the company will publish a four-volume, 1,600-page book called Celebrity- “destined to be valued by scholars, students and researchers as a vital research resource." It explains why: “The study of celebrity has developed and cohered into a flourishing field of social and cultural analysis.” (Marc Abrahams, The Guardian, "The Fame Game," February 2009)

The book's editor, Chris Rojek, defines three academically recognised categories of celebrities - ascribed, achieved and attributed. And, he also creates two new categories: celetoids and celeactors. Celetoids are "lottery winners, stalkers, one-hit wonders" and the like. Celeactors are fictional characters such as James Bond, Carrie Bradshaw and Ali G. Both concepts were quickly adopted by other scholars in the field.

Just for fun, here is Forbe's list of "Top 100 Most Powerful Celebrities" for 2009 in numerical order. The list is based on media exposure and career earnings for the last year.

1. Angelina Jolie

2. Oprah Winfrey

3. Madonna

4. Beyonce

5. Tiger Woods

6. Bruce Springsteen

7. Steven Spielberg

8. Brad Pitt

9. Jennifer Aniston

10. Kobe Bryant

Octomom Nadya Suleman

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