Debate and Discussion

The culture of celebrity
ozoneocean at 3:39AM, April 23, 2010
posts: 24,789
joined: 1-2-2006
There is an aspect of our popular culture that focuses on celebrities. It's mainly done through entertainment news and entertainment that pretends to be news. It's very pervasive,and invades aspects of our lives to the point where you hear Co-workers serious gossiping about some vapid celeb relationship and then asking your opinion, as if it was important stuff you REALLY SHOULD KNOW ABOUT!!!

It's not new though, there's always been some version of celeb gossip, though in the old days people would chat about members of the upper-classes, generals, and politicians- plus the occasional societal star - Oscar Wilde, Beau Brummel, Lola Monetz, Arthur Conan Doyle, and Mark Twain are good 19thC examples.
The main difference was that being a “celebrity” was not an end in itself, it wasn't a goal for people to aspire to, it wasn't a state people tried to maintain, there was no industry facilitating it.If was just something that happened,to someone, for various reasons, and over which they had very little control. Because of that fact, “news” about those old time celebs was actually news. Those were people who had real and lasting influence on their societies, the world around them and on our history.

What I'm getting at is that modern celeb culture isn't a good thing. More and more the non-news about the booing pathetic lives of these booing pathetic people is replacing real news. More and more public interest is being diverted a focussed on the “real life” soap operas created by various news organisations around various celebs.

That's my opinion on it. Long winded though it is.
I'd be interested in what others think of celeb culture. Do you agree that it's not only irritating, but bad for us? Or do you actually like it? Or something else?

-For myself, knowing that “Chris Brown” is a mean person and that “Rhianna” is a poor brave woman, despite not knowing anything else about these two idiots is very annoying to me.
last edited on July 14, 2011 2:36PM
DAJB at 4:52AM, April 23, 2010
posts: 1,462
joined: 2-23-2007
In the case of Conan Doyle and Oscar Wilde, I'd argue that they weren't celebrities in the modern sense of the word (i.e. famous for nothing more than being famous). They had at least done something of merit and achieved a well-deserved degree of fame first, and that's why their particular secrets attracted so much public interest.

In general though, I'd have to agree. The celebrity machine is completely out of control at the moment, with whole magazine empires and TV stations dedicated to nothing more than telling us intimate details of people who really haven't achieved anything other than having those intimate details broadcast to the world.

What really annoys me, however, is not that tawdry rags like “OK” and “Hello” continue to milk this stuff as much as they do, but that - in order to stay competitive - supposedly legitimate newspapers and broadcasters find themselves having to give column inches to such drivel. Plus, of course, the cult of the celebrity has given rise to the paparazzi, surely some of lowest, most morally bankrupt and parasitic individuals in the history of journalism.
last edited on July 14, 2011 12:04PM
Chernobog at 7:55AM, April 23, 2010
posts: 926
joined: 11-3-2007
I find it hard to get worked up about celebrities. There's certainly a handful of, say, actors who I find make better movies than not, but the whole obsession and need to know every minutia of their lives seems more for people who never mentally left the high school social scene. What few times I've caught TMZ just has me tilting my head wondering why anyone even cares if some B-list celeb was caught drinking coffee in New York.
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last edited on July 14, 2011 11:41AM
ozoneocean at 8:31AM, April 23, 2010
posts: 24,789
joined: 1-2-2006
There are other perspectives…

There's a line of thought that goes;
Humans naturally interact in a social tribal structure. Having common symbols, mythologies, stories etc. facilitates this i.e. Gossip-

-But as our social networks spread further and further apart, we lose those common stories that all of us can easily relate to. For example, in a smaller, tighter community we can all gossip about who's sleeping with who, who did what to whom the other night, and so on.
In a more diverse community, such as a workplace where people's ONLY point of commonality is that workplace, they still have the same primal urge to gossip. Lacking sufficient common material from their own lives, they turn to celeb news to fill that void.

And that same trend increases the further communities are spread apart… And I suppose the more superficial your relationship with someone, the more likely you are to need to talk about celeb gossip with them.

So there you are, a perspective on a proto-scientific reason for it.
last edited on July 14, 2011 2:36PM
kyupol at 9:28AM, April 23, 2010
posts: 3,712
joined: 1-12-2006
It is about social engineering

This video scratches the surface:

Then check out these books for more:

Yuri Bezmenov - former KGB agent.

Here's a radio show that routinely talks about brainwashing. Alan Watt articulates it way better and makes it sound interesting:

Or… ask your local psychologist / psychiatrist / hypnotherapist / psychotherapist…

Just my 2 cents.

last edited on July 14, 2011 1:27PM
imshard at 3:54PM, April 23, 2010
posts: 2,961
joined: 7-26-2007
I'm leaving my tin foil hat at home on this one. Though I must agree that this much escapism into the lives of the rich and the famous is unhealthy for us as a society the whole world over.

In many ways for me that extends into sports as well. I can understand following a team and knowing everything about a sport. Hell I follow all my local teams too. But 20 channels on TV, innumerable websites, and millions (billions?) of obsessed fanatic fans? That seems … well like a waste of brainpower and man-hours really. Overkill even.
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last edited on July 14, 2011 12:59PM
BffSatan at 6:00AM, April 24, 2010
posts: 1,478
joined: 3-2-2008
Makes sense.
I mean that does seem to be the most logical explanation.
last edited on July 14, 2011 11:21AM
isukun at 10:21AM, April 27, 2010
posts: 2,481
joined: 9-28-2006
The main difference was that being a “celebrity” was not an end in itself, it wasn't a goal for people to aspire to, it wasn't a state people tried to maintain, there was no industry facilitating it.

I can't agree with that statement. Celebrity has always been the goal for some people in society. There are countless examples of people in antiquity who pursued a craft expressly for the purpose of being a celebrity and probably even more cases of people who failed to reach that goal. The only real difference today is scale. Modern media makes it easier for someone to become a global sensation as opposed to just the best hunter in their tribe, the best actor in Rome, or the best composer in Europe. Even a lot of your political leaders and nobility went out of their way to gain the love and respect of the people.

As far as the modern media is concerned, I don't really care for all the celebrity news, but I don't think it hurts anything, either, as long as we respect people's right to privacy. People have always had a fascination in the personal affairs of those people who are constantly in the spotlight.
last edited on July 14, 2011 1:05PM
ozoneocean at 10:51AM, April 27, 2010
posts: 24,789
joined: 1-2-2006
countless examples of people in antiquity who pursued a craft expressly for the purpose of being a celebrity
Give me some?

Besides, what you're talking about is a little different, isn't it? ;)
For one thing, there was no industry supporting the idea of celebrity. The best you could probably come up with in the 19th C would be the idiot American outlaws like Jessie James who liked being mentioned in the newspapers. Apart from them the people you are talking about had crafts that they excelled at or position that kept them in the public eye- there was always a good reason that they came to people's notice.

But there was no culture of celebrity.
A “culture” of celebrity refers not only to the people who want to be and maintain celebrity status, more importantly it refers to the industry that facilitates it.

Anyway, as I mentioned, it was modern celeb culture that I was talking about. More and more it is actively replacing real news, not just supplementing it. News budgets are not finite I'm afraid, they are less now than ever before in fact, and if any significant portion is being diverted to deal with celeb news, then that harms us all.

In a world that deals in current information now more than ever, less investigation, less reporting on real events,and less knowledge about the reasons behind current world events hurts us.
last edited on July 14, 2011 2:36PM

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