“Fame” blogpost

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1. The production and marketing of mass media fame (and celebrity)
Fame and celebrity are now easier to achieve for anyone, and it is no longer just a question of luck, and sometimes not even a question of talent. The articles that talked about the consumption of celebrity news speak as though it is a sign of something negative, and maybe that is the case, but it is just an opinion. The way celebrities are marketed now in celebrity news is entertainment in a similar way to novels centuries before today. Novels were written to excite audiences and even to discuss taboo subjects in an open way. So when David Beckham’s affair got out, like the Fame Machine article said “ordinary folk make for more colorful copy”, it is like how people flocked to read Madam Bovary when it came out. It’s all entertainment, and it has always been there to make a profit. Mass media has simply made it more accessible and easier to consume.
2. The impact of the Web on fame and celebrity
In the article about 16 people made famous by the internet, I appreciate that people are pushed to think of new and innovative ways to be better people. From making make-a-wish stories more elaborate, to making audiences laugh, to inspirational stories of being a better parent. People can now become “famous” for things other than being beautiful or rich. YouTube and Vine etc. have made the process of stardom more democratic, so that people get to decide what they like instead of being given pre-packaged stars that they are forced to like.
It is scary though, like in the article about Ms. Cinkle, that young people are more interested in online fame than other things like studies or even just developing real-world social skills. It is still hard to say if generation “like” is going to show psychological or emotional problems later in life, but the amount of connectivity to the virtual world will at some point have to take some toll. The Web has definitely invaded the lives of people, and so celebrity social media accounts and things force their way into the daily lives of people, so it makes sense that celebrity news consumption is on the rise.
3. Do I think this is positive or negative?
Positive or negative can be understood in at least two ways: morally, or economically. I assume this asking if this impact is morally negative or positive, to which I would still probably say it is not so different from how things operated in the past, it is simply an evolution of fame and stardom. The question could really become do I think that celebrity in itself is positive or negative, and what is the impact on audiences who want to be these famous people or spend time and money wanting to praise them. This is a much different question, and the answers are so personal that what I say doesn’t really matter. Celebrities exist and they are profitable, Brangelina at 270 million, so the fame machine will press on and adapt to the newest ways to make the machine more efficient and profitable.
One thing that I really see as negative though, as discussed in the J-Lo performing for dictators article and the piece by Tyler Cowen, is that people can and do look to celebrities for their political and moral beliefs. As Cowen put it, “the famous often fall short of desirable moral and aesthetic standards.” He also described how people did not know about the politics of Reagan, but rather voted for him because of his earlier fame. When I saw some celebrities taking a stance about the Israel-Palestine conflict, I instead formed opinions about the celebrities’ integrity and worth instead of forming my opinions to match theirs, even when a celebrity I really liked said something that was against my beliefs. With all the money and stardom going around, it’s one thing to denounce the economic potential involved, but there need to be limits on the power that fame can have on people. If there are no limits, people will believe whatever their favorite celebrities tell them to, and a lot of the time, celebrities don’t make comments themselves, but are used as mouthpieces for larger companies and agendas to make their messages acceptable.

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