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Critical Overview of Celebrity Culture

Paper Type: Free Essay Subject: Cultural Studies
Wordcount: 3338 words Published: 27th Sep 2021

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The word celebrity is not a word that existed in the recent years it has been around for so many decades. Although it has become different, as different forms of media has changed and has become better. This essay will start with a critical overview of celebrity culture and I will discuss the meaning of celebrities in my own opinion and that of other authors. I will discuss what elements turn someone into a celebrity, and what different types of celebrities, or stars, can we distinguish for and also the disadvantages of celebrities. It could be argued that one of the most interesting things about celebrities is our concern with famous persons whose lives never meet with our own and whose fortunes make no material difference to us and also interesting is the extravagant we attached to the lives of these celebrities. Rojek’s understanding’s of celebrity differs to other authors. In this essay I shall compare Rojek’s Chris, Cashmore Ellies, Graeme Turner Dyer and De Cordova views and contrast the differences.

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The word ‘celebrity’ (from the Latin celebritas for ‘multitude’ or ‘fame’ and celeber meaning frequented populous or famous originally meant not a person but a condition as oxford dictionary says the condition of being much talked about ;famousness, notoriety(p. David Marshall)but for us has normally people however celebrity primarily means a person, someone who is on TV and someone who we admire .they are different definitions and meaning to what a celebrity is, American dictionaries define celebrity as a famous or well publicised person .celebrity is a person know for his well knownness. On a contrary celebrity is always a contemporary in the sense that the hero is made by sacred texts and also history books but celebrity is a creation of gossip of public opinions, magazines, newspapers basically different forms of the media. Most times, according to marsh ell they always move from becoming hero’s to celebrities. While hero’s are assimilated to one another by their great simple virtues of their characters, celebrities are differentiated from the heros mainly by their personality not necessary by anything extra ordinary things they have done. They are best qualified to be celebrities because they are skilled in the marginal differentiated personalities they get to succeed skilfully by distinguishing themselves from others that are essentially like them.

The pleasure in being in celebrity culture is that the consumers observer, secure in the knowledge that he or she is not just an observer but also a player. (Ellis Cashmore) The purpose of celebrity culture is to shepherd the populace into imitative consumption. Celebrity culture did not just pop out from nowhere for we to understand celebrity culture we need to the context and circumstance surrounding celebrity culture. Celebrity culture in the times is different from how it used to be before; all celebs did not make themselves available like they are now. Mass media is a key principle in the formation of celebrity culture; Madonna might have been the first the first celebrity to render her manufacture completely transparent then anyone who followed began to do the same. “Celebrity culture did not just pop out of a vacuum, there were conditions triggering episodes and deep causes. The conditions include the proliferation of media in the 1980s and the loss in confidence in established forms of leadership and authority that happened around the same time” (2006; p, 3) the role of media figures has a very large impact in the role in the culture of celebrity .Cashmore argues that celebrity culture is an extension of collective preoccupation with the famous. The pressure in being in celebrity culture apart from the fact that the media and public cares about them .is that the consumer observes, make safe in the knowledge that he or she is not just an observer but also a player.

On some occasions if not in all occasions, God like qualities are often attributed to celebrities, in Morden time the term celebrities were actually derives from the fall of the gods and the rise of democratic government and secular societies (Rojek) Chris Rojek treat celebrity as an acknowledgment of glamour to an individual within the public sphere ,glamour is usually thought in different term, like the musicians /actress Beyonce is seen as glamour’s .when looking at the relationship between celebrities to audience the question that pops up is why do so many audience measure their worth against figures they have never met? This answer has a whole lot to do with the way public life is constructed; the media determines these constructions although the content still remains more of a political and ideological exchange. Their life’s have been constructed in the sense that sometimes if not in most cases they make their life’s become important to other people especially through the media .celebrities are cultural fabrications, the impact they have on the public are seen as spur-of-the-moment ,no celebrity now acquires public recognitions without the assistance of cultural intermediaries this days .cultural intermediaries is a collective name for agent, promoters, publicists, marketing personal, personal assistant and promoters (Rojek) basically what they do is to create the presentation of celebrity personalities that will appeal to fans /audience. According to Rojek, C he mentions about three forms that celebrity status comes, that they are ascribed, achieved and attributed. An ascribed celebrity concerns lineage; status typically follows bloodline example of an ascribed celebrity is prince Williams, him becoming a celebrity stem from his line of biological descent. Achieved celebrity is derived from the accomplishments of the individual .they were not born to be celebrities unlike the ascribed celebrities they started of as normal people then worked and achieved the title to be called a celebrity example Michael Jordan ,David Beckham ,Serena William are celebrities by reason of their different kinds of activities like sporting event and different kinds of endorsement .however, achieved celebrity which is the third and finally status is not necessarily a matter of special skills and talent .in most cases “it is largely the result of the concentrated representation of an individual as noteworthy or exceptional by cultural intermediaries. When this is it is attributed celebrity” Rojek c, p; 18.the mean reason celebrity follows for mere attribution instead of achieved is because of the expansion of the mass media .the mass media refers to the responses of everyday life “, the arrangement of newsworthy event by the media example newspaper aims to generate public interest with the object of galvanizing public attention” Rojek, 2001; 19. Ordinary people like the British TV gender Charlie Dimmock and Luciana, the mother of one of Mick Jaggar illegitimate children and many more are arched into the as the result of the mass media in the sense that they have a relationship with either the ascribed or the achieved celebrity and this brings to the term celetoid to refer to a media generated form of attributed celebrity .in popular culture the it is required for use to take celetoid as an importance category “the celebrity in contemporary society is accessible through the internet sites, biographies, newspaper interviews, TV profiles, radio documentaries and film biographies” 2001;p19. Mass media and celebrity have a relation because is the mass media that kind of create the celebrities. The public faces in which construct do not belong to them since they only posses validity if the public and the media confirms them.

The fact that celebrity status depends on public recognition so does celetoids but celetoid doesn’t necessary depend on that is also depends on the relationship or scandals they have had with the celebrity. That was now makes them celetoids and not celebrity .why Rojek distinguish them from celebrities because generally, the latter enjoy a more durable career with the public .examples of are lottery winners and one-hit wonders. “Celetoids are often constructed around sexual scandal, where they symbolize the hypocrisy or corruption of public figures. For example the profumo affair in Britain in the early 1960s which twinned sexual intrigue involving a cabinet minister with allegations of espionage ,elevated the callgiris Christine Keeler and Mandy rice Davies as fleeting celetoids ,signalling the double standards of both prominent politicians and swinging in London”(,2001’p,22) .if they do not do anything to bring about the attention of the media then they won’t be seen as celetoids. An important sub category of the celetoid is celeactor. “The celeactor is a fictional character who is either momentarily ubiquitous or becomes an institutionalized feature of popular culture” (2001; p, 23) celebrity construction and presentation involve an imaginary public face but in the case of celeactors, there is no veridical self and public face is fictionally created .another similarities with celebrities, celetoid and celeactors is the connection of imaginary relationship audience have with them.

Rojek mentions about the understanding of celebrity in three approaches, he underscores the value of an approach to contemporary celebrity that privileges history. The three approaches are subjectivism, structuralism and post structuralism. Subjectivism subjectivist account of celebrity fasten on the acknowledged singularity of individual characteristics, celebrity is explained as the reflection of talent. Talent is understood to be a unique phenomenon, it is sometimes if not all times seen to be wonderful gift of nature. “Today celebrity often involves transgressing ordinary moral rules by, for example, excessive conspicuous consumption, exhibitionist libidinous gratification, drug abuse, alcohol addiction, and violence and so on” (2010,p. 31). The talent they have to portray other characters and make it look real is what makes the celebrities .max weber who is a notable critic of unalloyed subjectivism devised the concept of charisma to apply a different kind of special or unique qualities which is attributed to the individual. He argues that charismatic authority is by definition and is inspirational. Structuralism concentrates more on the interrelation between human conduct and the context inform conduct. Most times three social structures are usually distinguished in structuralism approach to understanding celebrity .one is the culture industry; the culture industry thesis is associated with the Frankfurt school of criticism. “Their ultimate aim is to reinforce and extend the rule of capital. Celebrities are conceptualized as one of the means through which capitalism achieves its ends of subduing and exploiting the masses. They express an ideology of heroic individualism, upward mobility and choice in the social conditions wherein standardization, monotony and routine prevail” (Rojek 2001; p, 33). Celebrity are like mirror of other characters, what they do is to reflect on the character or qualities of the thing happening in real life .the identification of the masses with celebrities .according to Edgar Morin “,celebrities do fulfil the function required of them as entertainment moguls in the sense that they are servant of capital “(Rojek) celebrities are seen to be people who do what they are asked to do in order to get their money ,they play roles of other people deliver message to the public ,they are the representations of what is happening in the real world, they just act as other people other to get paid. Morin’s work which signifies celebrities are money makers is significant for subverting the proposition that celebrities are created by the culture industry .another theorist was Marshall, Marshall argues that is emphatically construction in which mass media play a leading role in governing the population, while Morin mentions celebrity to be created by capital industry .they both argue about celebrity in the sense that we understand and know their worth. Klapp “also brings his own argument that the celebrity system provides important source of cultural leadership, social emulation and psychological reinforcement” (2 010, p, 40). The final approach is the post structuralism. The post structuralism to focus on the relationship between concrete celebrities and the historical structure that is behind these celebrities, the post structuralism account rather concentrates on the omnipresent image and the code of representation through which they image is consumed represented and developed. “Richard dyer is probably they principal exponent of this approach, someone who for whom stars represent typically ways of behaving, feelings and thinking in contemporary society “(rojek; 2001, p44). “The post structuralism approaches treat notions of individual and individualization as inherently problematic. By addressing celebrity as a flied of production ,representation and consumption, they move away from subjectivist account that prioritize the meaning of celebrity in the character, talent and embodiment of the subject ‘(2002;p,45) Richard dyer brings the facts that celebrities help with the production and consumption for instance celebrity advertising and endorsement while Rojek is defining celebrities as those who are glamour’s ,Richard is defining them as people who are glamour’s and as a result of their glamour are used to make ordinal people consume product .

Richard de Cordova definition of celebrity has more to do with celebrities that are seen as stars rather then celetoids as Rojek argues about. “the emergence of stars system can perhaps best be seen as the emergence of knowledge” (1991; p, 17) .before the 1909 virtually none of the players names known to the public, but by 1912 most of them where discovered, it is clear from this example that the result of the production was as a result of knowledge, this knowledge are produced by films and even magazines and studio publicity. The development of the star system was through the discourse of acting; before the 1970s they were little or no discourse on film actor, the textual productivity was focused elsewhere. “It was obvious that people were represented on the screen but the thought that the people were actors was very likely not considered.”(1991; p, 19) Richard argues that they is more to a celebrity than just to appear on screen, Cashmore also kind of has the same view with Richard even if they don’t have the same definition of celebrity but they both talk about celebrity in the sense of what they have achieved and not just their looks and popularity unlike what Rojek focuses on. The second development is the picture personality; “by the 1909 picture personalities had to appear, either by their own names or by names the public assigned to them. This is usually considered the beginning of star system” (1991; p, 24) it was around the time of the picture personality that the star emerges as an economic reality. There is a regulation of understanding specific to the picture character that distinguishes it significantly from the star .the finally effect through the change is the star; the star is characterised by a articulation of the paradigm professional life. And so is the celebrity as well. in my own opinion, stars are people who have earned their fame because of their talent or achievement while celebrities are people who are famous for being famous .and this is what Richard and Rojek have in common in their definition of celebrity ,just that Richard explains more on the stars which are more or should be more recognised than celebrity because stars get to be stars as a result of hard work while some celebrities get to that stage as a result of the personal attention they get from the media. This brings me to the work of Graerme turner who mentions that “the celebrity fame does not necessarily depend on the position or achievement that gave them their prominence, rather once they are established; their fame is likely to have outstripped the claims to prominence developed within that initial location. Indeed the Morden celebrity may claim no special achievement other than the attraction of the public, for instance the prominence gained for short intense periods by contestant of big brother or survivor” (2004; p, 3) Richard and turner but emphasis a lot on the fact the celebrity today do not necessary have to achieve anything and that’s why Richard emphasis more on stars as better and more achievable than celebrities, stars have a longer time in the industry unlike the celebrity. In my own opinion, once you’re a star you die a star but you may not be a celebrity for a long period of time .examples of stars is Michael Jackson even though is died people for talk about him.

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Daniel Boorsin cited in turner, is responsible for the most widely quoted aphorisms about celebrity, “the celebrity is a person who is well known for their well-knowniess.his definition is similar to that of the American dictionaries they both use the word “well-knowness” .the celebrity develops their capacity for fame, not by achieving great things but by differentiating their own personality from those of their competitors in the public arena. Daniel had the same argument with Richard because Richard also mention that stars are known for their achievement so Richard work has drawn out the different between stars and celebrity while Daniel draw out the different between celebrity and stars, mentioning why celebrities are different from stars “Consequently while heroic figures are distinguished by their achievement or by great simple virtues of their character, celebrities are differentiated mainly by trivia of personality. It is not surprising to Daniel boorstin that the entertainers dominate the ranks of celebrity because they are skilled in the marginal differentiation of their personalities” (Tuner 2004; p.5)

Chris Rojek and John suggest that cultural function of the celebrity in Morden time contains significant parallels with function attributed to religion. They both elaborated the comparisons of the qualities attributed to particular celebrities and to religious figures as well as the kind of spiritual experience provided to audience and fans. Rojek mentions in his book about hoe celebrities are seen to have god like qualities. Elvis is a perfect example in the recognition of the inherent qualities of this extraordinary individual Rojek is taking about. “the popular view that celebrity is a natural, immanent quality to which the media industries gives expression obviously legitimates the interest that of the industries concerned as well as consoling those who consume their product as object, belief, desire or aspiration” this is similar to the work of cashmore when he mentions that celebrities are products that can be consumed by audience and the media figure is also who makes them celebrity but not fully who makes them stars. To be a star is what you achieve however the media still makes you famous unlike celetoids without the media we may not get to know them.

In conclusion, celebrity is a commodity produced and marked by the media and publicity industry. It is a genre of representation and a discursive effect it is a commodity traded by promotion, publicity and the media industry (Turner 2004). In understanding celebrity, the work of Cashmore, Rojek, Richard and other authors have all argued about their different definitions of celebrity. In my own opinion a celebrity is someone who is famous and known’s how to work his or her way through the media. While a star is a term commonly used in film studies and is someone who has achieved a lot and has talent. And celtoids are one hit wonder and they come and go quickly. It is important to keep in mind that mass representation is a key principle for celebrity culture.


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