Contemporary Celebrity Spectacle


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In our contemporary times, the nature of fame, celebrities, and their fans and the manner in which the media represent the culture of celebrity has changed. In fact, celebrity in the developed nations gives an outlet of imagination that is similar to the one that stemmed from the demigods of the primordial times. Celebrity today is not what it used to be in the old days when famous people attained transcendent statuses, but it exists for and by a highly advanced technological and information age. Today, celebrity culture is epidemic and fast spreading which at times makes it appear as if nearly every person has got it. Not only has our contemporary celebrity culture been shaped by modern technologies, including the internet, but it has also created pathways to business associations that make celebrities obtain wealth and social power after selling their sense of intimacy to the general public.

Fan Culture

To understand the perception of contemporary celebrity spectacle, it is imperative to give a description of fandom, which is a term, derived from the word “fanatic,’ as well as to define a celebrity. In its original development, the term fanatic was meant to refer to the act of belonging to a certain congregation (De Kloet and Van Zoonen 324). However, its meaning has been altered with time, especially within the celebrity realm, to refer to negative implications; for instance, obsession and madness. The main thing that turns well-known individuals into celebrities is through the narratives that are aired by the media stations within the region, which are reacted to by the fans and other news consumers.

As such, the fandom studies have attempted to establish the aspects that are associated with celebrities and their fans. They have found that fandom is well described when related to specific contexts. They include the cultural contexts, performative dimensions, and local contexts (De Kloet and Van Zoonen 323). While the cultural dimensions are driven by individuals’ aspirations and desires to pursue a certain discourse, the performative scope tends to shift focus from the perspective of compliance and restriction to viewing the fandom as a communal cultural context. On the other hand, the local dimensions in which the term fandom can be described involves the sensitization of the particularities and multiethnic options within the locality.

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Definition of Celebrity

Daniel Boorstin defined the term celebrity as referring to a person who has fame is widespread and extensive (Gabler 3). In other words, a celebrity is a person who is recognized for his or her wide recognition. Another thing that Boorstin associated with celebrity is greatness, which insinuated that being a celebrity and famous is a symbol of greatness and accomplishment. However, in our modern view of celebrity, fame is no longer associated with the feeling of accomplishment and greatness owing to the reason that there are people who are famous but have attained very little in their life.

Despite the widespread recognition that celebrity and wealth, as well as accomplishment, are not of the same familial structures, there are individuals who have obtained fame for virtually doing nothing. One of the things that characterize the definition of our modern celebrity is the notion of being well known. In fact, in our modern times, for individuals to be termed as celebs, they must be well known or else they are not celebrities, which is a phenomenon that explains why good publicity is an essential element.

Consequence of Fandom

The reaction to stories and art of celebrities has been shown to have major impacts not only to the individuals who are reacting, but also the celebrities. Some of the impacts are obsession and agitation. In an attempt to elucidate why the existing literature of fandom Jensen categorized fans into two, including the hysterical crowd and the individuals that are obsessed (Jessen 301). Individuals become fans when they positively respond to the art of the celebrity system. One of the major channels of distribution of this fandom is the mass media. Individuals tend to become fans of certain celebrities through the influence of the media channels they listen to or frequently use, which makes them to develop intense associations with the celebrity figures. In the case where negative information regarding a celebrity is revealed by the media channels, it affects both the fans and the celebrity in various aspects. Moreover, such information grabs more attention as compared to the positive one, which makes the media station famous if it manages to be accountable for the information that they air. As a matter of fact, categorization of fans can foster a sentiment of stigmatization and create other deviant behaviors.

Fandom Studies

Various studies have been conducted in the attempt to understand the manner in which factions of people interact and form the cultural or fan communities. In other words, these studies exemplify how groups of individuals interact with celebrities and their aptitude and ability to relate and identify with the various forms of mass media and communication channels. Although they branch from cultural backgrounds, the studies observe the interaction and reaction of groups in relation to a wide range of cultural phenomena such as games, music, and fashion as well as sport to name but a few. Indeed, this field of study has continued to evolve along with technological advancement, which has greatly increased the fan communities and fan cultures (Harris 1).

An example of the manner in which technology has increased fan culture is visible in the case of the demise of a celebrity. As a matter of fact, the death of a celebrity figure gives a superb groundwork for researchers to study the impacts and social functions of the social media. Most fans deem that their celebrities know them or as if they have very close ties with them. Of note is that despite the fact that individuals create very strong ties with celebrities thanks to the interactive online sites, the relationships are only one way. In other words, fans form real affection and love for the celebrities known to them, which could be similar to the kind of relationships formed by real friends (Courbet and Fourquet 275). However, this does not mean that the celebrity must reciprocate, despite the intense para-social interaction, which is one way in which celebrities increase their fame.

How News are Made

As above noted, mass media is a platform that helps celebrities to increase their fame while attracting large numbers of fans. In fact, one has to appear in the headlines of newspapers among other media of communication, whether in positive or negative publicity. Our modern news is characterized by more portions of occasions and occurrences that are referred to as pseudo-events (Boorstin 39). The main reason behind the development of pseudo-events is to deceive the members of public with false information that usually lack credibility. A big proportion of the events we read or hear are derived from pseudo occurrences. The news that happen are planned and created to spur the mind of individuals with the intended ideas that suit the intentions and perceptions of the person who planned the news. In fact, they are aimed at satisfying the extravagant anticipations of the human populations.

Tabloid Celebrities

Although the mass media play a significant role in spreading the fame of celebrities, it also has some drawbacks on their lives and career. Some of the channels of communications, including the newsprints and other popular magazines have set aside columns where the activities of people who are well known such as politicians, celebrities, and sportsmen as well as public officials to name but a few, are indicated (Johansson 344). Most of the information put in the columns is based on the events where the celebrities erred, which has a major impact on their publicity and career, especially for the upcoming and wannabes. In fact, the main reason behind these columns is to expose the public figures among other celebrities to which they would rather have them remain unknown to the members of the public who are their fans. The main method of covering these events is referred to as the paparazzi journalism and has had major detrimental impacts to the lives and careers of celebrities and public figures.

In fact, in our contemporary epoch, celebrities have developed the desire to enter into the political arena, whether vying for political offices or playing the role of image for politicians. Beyoncé is one of the celebrities who have been used by politicians during various political platforms to play the role of image.  For instance, after the historical presidential win by President Barrack Obama, Beyoncé took it to stage the new song known as At Last, which was a special dedication not only to the new president of the United States but also to the African-born Americans (Cashmore 135).

Not only was the win by the African American President historic, but also the rise of various African-born celebrities (Cashmore 138). In other words, while President Barack represented the actualization of Martin Luther King’s dream of the Africans ruling the whites, Beyoncé, on the other hand, was a representative of the celebrity elite in Obama’s political podium, which characterized the United States’ new racial and ethnicity order.

Celebrities have also used their fame in gaining support from the members of the general public in various political offices. One method in which celebrity politicians occur is by people who have been elected to hold public offices using various celebrity personalities to create their assertion of supporting and representing a certain faction. The case of Beyoncé when she rose to a superstar in the United States during a time when racial prejudice was at its climax could have been used by politicians to show their representation of the African American group. The other way in which celebrities can bring about the phase of celebrity politician is by the involvement of superstars in airing the issues and opinions of certain factions of people, which is facilitated by their popularity and fame. Although this phenomenon has received criticism citing that the celebrity politicians do not represent the views of the general public, their fame plays a role in their political statuses.

Most people view celebrity politicians as a new trend as it has started gaining popularity and attracting research in the recent past. However, celebrity politician is not a new phenomenon. Renowned politicians such as Arnold Schwarzenegger and President Ronald Regan followed this path decades ago (Drake and Higgins 89). There has been apprehension that celebrity politicians may fail to deliver because their popularity in the celebrity realm does not equate to success in politics that is gained through airing the needs of the people (Street 440). Others indicate that celebrity politicians stems from the capitalistic method of leadership, which is a thing of the past. Owing to the reason that most celebrity politicians have been effective in the political arena, then they should not be dismissed, but instead, they should be given room to serve not only their fans, but also other people in society.

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