Americans spend more time reading Glam Media than Wikipedia. We love our celebrities. But is creating a voluntary caste system productive? Probably not. The idea of an A-list is attractive to some, but a closer look points to a pretty steep downside not only to fame itself, but to the desire to get there at all costs.
1. . Popular gets in the way of Good.
Being popular often means taking fewer risks. It shifts the burden of proof for quality entertainment from actually being good to being something that a bunch of people are down to watch. Thus, content has gotten shorter and arguably, dumber as time goes on. Rocking the boat may not beat a rom com when it comes to ratings, but a YouTube video about a guy getting hit in the balls is likely to be the most popular of them all. This holds true of celebrities and the networks/studios who support them.
2. . Once a celebrity gets popular for doing something, the machine wants them to do it over and over.
- That’s why we get unenthsiastic sequels and SNL spin offs that are, how shall I say it… sketchy. The lowest common denominator is the lowest thing for a reason.
3. . The Celebrity Machine Is super white-washed and mostly run by dudes.
Most major award shows are the product of successful PR campaigns, which doesn’t mean that talented people don’t win them, it just means the system gets to decide which of the talented people are likely to be nominated. That’s why the average woman to win an on screen Oscar (or to get cast in the first place) is about a decade younger than the average man, and people of color are often left out in the cold.
4. . Even those who differ from the mold are typically filtered through white dudes.
If a show is about a woman or minority, they often feel compelled to warn viewes about it in the title. It’s showbiz’s way of saying: Warning! This isn’t about a white guy. Shows about women tend to be about their relationship with men, while shows about men, and in particular white men, get to be about life in general.
5. . Focus is shifted from creating things to showing off on socia media.
Love or hate social media stars: when it comes to getting the word out about their next video, these guys reign supreme. Tweet and retweet can lead to groupthink. Rather than deciding what we like for ourselves, we feel compelled to like what everyone else likes.
6. . 15 minutes of fame becomes a priority over other achievements.
TV has made a major shift towards telling kids that the thing they want to be when they grow up is famous. A UCLA study found that as of 2007 “fame was the number one value communicated to preteens on popular TV.” The majority of the kids didn’t care what they got famous for, just that they got super famous as fast as they possibly could.
7. . Friends are replaced with fans or followers.
Posting a photo of your eggs benedict at brunch replaces the mutual enjoyment of those who are with you physically with the virtual like from people with whom you have no actual contact online. If you spend a ton of time interacting with celebrities virtually, your relationship with them becomes the same as with your actual friends, one of admiration and demonstrating “like” rather than actually experiencing love or support.
8. . Actually...being famous also kinda sucks.
True A-list fame is a full time job. It takes a team of publicists to keep you there, and requires surrendering your rights to basic privacy. Justin Bieber opened up to Elite Daily about the depression, isolation and difficulty building meaningful relationships. We root for celebrities to fail as much as we root for them to succeed. That’s why the gossip trade is a $3 billion a year industry.