Celebrity culture

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A celebrity culture is the structure that influences celebrities.


Any medium can be viewed as a vehicle for creating a celebrity culture. The famous religious books of the world's faiths are replete with examples of individuals who are well known by the general public. Some of the pharaohs of ancient Egypt set in motion devices to ensure their own fame for centuries to come. Celebrity culture, once restricted to royalty and biblical/mythical figures, has pervaded many sectors of society including business, publishing, and even academia (the scilebrities). With every scientific advance names have become attached to discoveries. Especially for large contributions to humanity, the contributor is usually regarded honourably. Mass media has increased the exposure and power of celebrity. A trend has developed that celebrity carries with it increasingly more social capital than in earlier times. Each nation or cultural community (linguistic, ethnic, religious) has its own independent celebrity system, but this is becoming less the case due to globalization. (see j-pop)


Celebrity status is widely sought after by many people. Celebrities are often displeased by their status. Paparazzi are a problem for celebrities. Another problem is celebrity marriage. There is researchTemplate:Clarify that suggests child celebrities have poor emotional health in adulthood, and often turn to drug abuse. Celebrity status is ranked by an "A-list" or "B-list" hierarchy. Sometimes people who achieved celebrity status come to regret it, e.g. Bart Spring in 't Veld, who came to loathe the reality TV celebrity culture which Big Brother, of which he was the first winner in the world, instigated.


In the USA, celebrity culture is created and disseminated by television talk shows such as Entertainment Tonight, where actors and music stars promote their latest films and albums, and by many celebrity magazines such as People, Us, and Star.


In the celebrity culture of the 21st century, the "Tantrumical" may come to full flower in the form of 'the celebrity tantrum. Many celebrity icons, regardless of their chronological age, are renowned for appearing incredibly immature and throwing temper tantrums whenever they don't get their own way'.[1] Dan Millman 'coined the term Acquired Situational Narcissism to describe the destructive and outrageous behaviour of those who are constantly in the public eye.[2]


A common complaint of modern celebrity culture is that the public, instead of seeking virtues or talents in celebrities, seek those who are the most willing to break ethical boundaries, or those who are most aggressive in self-promotion. In other words, infamy has replaced fame. The social role of the town drunk, the court jester, or the sexually indiscreet are not new, but arguably, the glorification of these individuals is.


One possible explanation of this trend is that an artificial importance has been created in order to promote a product or a service, rather than to record a purely biographical event. As more new products are launched in a world market that is constantly expanding, the need for more celebrities has become an [industry] in itself.

Another explanation, used by Chuck Palahniuk, is that this exaggeration of modern celebrity culture is created out of a need for drama and spectacle. In the book Haunted, he describes the pattern of creating a celebrity as a god-like figure, and once this image is created, the desire to destroy it and shame the individual in the most extreme ways possible. Tabloid magazines are the prototype example of this theory.

Posthumous fame

Some creators such as poets, artists, musicians, and inventors are little-known and little-appreciated during their lives, but are feted as brilliant innovators after their deaths. In some cases, after historians uncover a creator's role in the development of some type of cultural or technical process, the contributions of these little-known individuals become more widely known. A desire to achieve this type of posthumous fame may have motivated Alan Abel, Adam Rich and Pauly Shore to stage their own deaths.

Sometimes a false death mention can cause a person to rethink their legacy. Alfred Nobel founded the Nobel Prizes after an erroneous obituary labelled him a "merchant of death" due to his invention and selling of dynamite.

Celebrities who were far more famous after their deaths than during their lifetime (and often were completely or relatively unknown) include Greek philosopher Socrates; scientist Galileo Galilei; 1800s-era poet John Keats; painter Vincent van Gogh; poet and novelist Edgar Allan Poe; singer Eva Cassidy; writer Emily Dickinson; artist Edith Holden, whose 1906 diary was a best-seller when published posthumously in 1977); writer Franz Kafka; diarist Anne Frank; philosopher Søren Kierkegaard; writer John Kennedy Toole (who posthumously won a Pulitzer Prize for Fiction 12 years after his death); author Stieg Larsson (who died with his Millennium novels unpublished);; Musician, Artist and Poet Rozz Williams and last but not least, William Webb Ellis, the alleged inventor of Rugby football.

Herostratus, a young Greek man arsoned the Temple of Artemis (one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World) in 356 BC in order to immortalize his name. Although authorities at the time tried to expunge him from history and punished people with the death penalty for even merely mentioning his name, he succeeded in achieving lasting fame, as his name is well known to this day.

See also



  1. Cooper Lawrence, The Cult of Celebrity (2009) p. 72
  2. Simon Crompton, All about Me (London 2007) p. 176