Celebrity or Sell-ebrity

April 15, 2012
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Has the metamorphosis of the word celebrity devalued its underlying tenets? Traditionally, to be a celebrity entailed recognition and celebration of virtuous attributes. On the other hand, today’s connotation takes on the definition of fame, having a widespread reputation. Celebrities and famous people alike are being held up on a pedestal by the masses, but one must reexamine exactly what both fame and celebrity mean in this modern era of tabloid and trash television, internet and social media. Without realizing it, society has conformed to the idea that being famous and being a celebrity is one in the same.

There are few distinct souls whose fame is based on astonishing accomplishments and whose celebrity will likely last an eternity. They have reached the pinnacle of their careers by maintaining integrity and grace in the face of struggles. Icons like Steve Jobs, Aretha Franklin, Babe Ruth and Audrey Hepburn are household names due to true talent and positive contributions to society. Technology, music, baseball, and film have greatly benefitted from the booming success of these prominent figures. They all have widespread reputations, but each reflects his or her hard work and dedication to his or her careers. Fame has been achieved only in the process of following his or her dreams; his or her dreams were not to become famous. Hepburn’s intellectual family looked down upon acting and programming was occupying Steve Jobs’ mind making the fame they received that more meaningful and genuine. These individuals, along with many others, have attained fame as well as celebrity status and truly deserve celebration.

Andy Warhol once said, “In the future, everyone will be famous for fifteen minutes.” Warhol’s prophetic statement has been displayed through the rise of reality television and those who are famous for no conceivable reason. Those classified as part of Warhol’s ‘fifteen-minute’ variety endorse the belief that anyone can become ‘famous for being famous’. Shows such as The Real World, Teen Mom, and Jersey Shore have glorified the common person, and society has attached itself to the idea that these mindless and talentless people are celebrities. They are on the covers of our favorite gossip magazines, all over the internet, and even on the news. The current generation has overlooked the extreme effort and determination it takes to reach fame and is solely focused on the brain-shrinking, entertaining hour of reality television. Paris Hilton, Kim Kardashian, and “The Situation” have created empires for themselves based on humiliating scenarios and exposing themselves to the camera for publicity. It is true that they are famous and unrightfully wealthy, but they have no reason to be celebrated or even classified in the same category as some of the world’s greatest entertainers and intellects.

The concept of ‘fame’ has been diluted, cheapened, and degraded by synthetic celebrities. We absent ourselves from the everyday ethical and moral judgments leading to the misconceptions of celebrity status and fame. The integration of today’s celebrity into society creates the juxtaposition of the authentic, talented individual to the 21st century imitation. Popular culture’s synonymous uses violate the definition of a celebrity, simultaneously consuming all of its original, coveted value. Although the comparison can be made, many do not realize that fame and celebrity cannot be used interchangeably. To be a celebrity, one attains fame but fame alone can be achieved without reaching celebrity status.


Works Consulted:
“Andy Warhol- Biography." IMDb. amazon, 2011. Web. 19 Dec 2011. <http://www.imdb.com/name/nm0912238/bio>.

Harper, Douglas. "Fame." Online Etymology. N.p., 2011. Web. 19 Dec 2011. <http://www.etymonline.com/index.php?term=fame&allowed_in_frame=0>.
Harper, Douglas. "Celebrity." Online Etymology. N.p., 2011. Web. 19 Dec 2011. <http://etymonline.com/?term=celebrity>.





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