Celebrity Phenomenon

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This research essay focuses on the topic of the celebrity phenomenon. Celebrities impact everyone’s lives, whether through influence, role model or just because their faces are seen on television, magazines, billboards and so on. There are a few things in life that occur through sheer coincidence, particularly on such a massive scale. The issue however, is whether or not the celebrity phenomenon has any value to society. I take the view, and use supporting evidence, that the celebrity phenomenon is nothing more than a creation for the benefit of few at the expense of many. When stripped to the core, a celebrity is a person just like you and me, except that through avenues to fame and public view has earned the title celebrity. As a result celebrity worship makes as much sense as that of worshipping the next-door neighbor or staff attendant at the local store. It may be true that a celebrity has more influence than that of the comparison, however, this influence on society and certain members of the public is not warranted.

To gain a better understanding of the issue it is crucial to first define the term “celebrity”. By doing so allows for a broader perspective on the issued to be gained. “Any definition of the term "celebrity" is not definitive and is necessarily vague” (Rich: 2000). Frequently a celebrity is defined as a "famous or well-known person". A celebrity can be defined as someone who would be recognised by a lot of people. Celebrities are people who enjoy public recognition by a large share of a certain group of people. Whereas attributes like attractiveness, extraordinary lifestyle or special skills are just examples and specific common characteristics cannot be observed, it can be said that within a corresponding social group celebrities generally differ from the social norm and enjoy a high degree of public awareness.

Public fascination with celebrities has a long history, however the increased opportunities to glimpse into their private lives through intrusive media, means that people can get ever closer to their idols and spend considerable sums of money doing so. The celebrity phenomenon has largely been created by the movies and television, but there is no doubt that other media have played a significant part. Celebrities with star status achieve that fame by a process of collusion with the press, which enables the press to feed on the stars, and the stars to profit from the media coverage. In the old days, when movie studio moguls controlled Hollywood, they also controlled access to the stars, who were bound by complicated studio contracts. Bogus romances were created, marriages, and even sightings of stars at famous "hotspots," all of which was set up deliberately, for the purpose of developing public images of glamour and privilege. The collapse of the studio system created a new environment, which really led to the evolution in the United States, of the television star, which is a different kind of stardom from movie stardom. If celebrities were not so important to millions of people in human society then it would be absolutely impossible for stars to enlist the legions of fans who follow them and thus to command the fees they do. No doubt the film studios, the talent scouts, the agents and the journalists who make, break and feed off celebrities have a part to play, but in the end there is a deep need in human society to generate these iconic figures, worship them and then very often pull them back down to earth. But what is it that people idolise so much? Almost half century ago Daniel Boorstin, a social historian summed up the phenomenon of the celebrity almost half a century ago: Our age has produced a new kind of eminence... This new kind of eminence is "celebrity"... He has been fabricated... to satisfy our exaggerated expectations of human greatness. He is morally neutral... The hero was distinguished by his...
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