Friday, March 09, 2012

The draw of being a celebrity

“'Cause when you're a celebrity, it's adios reality. You can act just like a fool; People think you're cool just 'cause you're on TV.” - Brad Paisley
I've mentioned previously that I've never been one to be impressed by celebrities. I figure most of them are even more messed up than me, so why should I admire them. A portion of them have talents that I do not have, namely the athletes, but many of them do not. Yet still they become celebrities, mostly because they can get other people to pay attention to them. Now I have no real problem with getting attention. I think most of us feel the same way. But it's what you get attention for that you may cause you to rethink your goal of being famous.
If your name is Kardashian, apparently that gives you a free ticket on the Celebrity Express. This comes despite the lack of any discernible talent, aside from being able to grow and maintain a large posterior. Reality shows have upped the number of celebrities into the ka-jillions, with the only real distinguishing characteristics being the ability to follow a map, to choose from among 25 potential spouses or to survive an immunity challenge. But let's move past the world of reality television and instead focus on another medium -- the Internet.
Do you know how many Internet celebrities there are? Alright, neither do I, but let me tell you it's more than you might suspect. The Internet has opened the doors of the Celebrity Express to anyone with a PC and a camera or a webcam. The first Internet star I can recall was Cindy Margolis, who was billed as the most downloaded woman in the world. Forget for a minute the possible double entendres of that statement and focus with me on the fact that a woman whose sole marketable talent is looking pretty can become a “celebrity” on the Internet.
My sons are avid followers of a couple of Internet celebrities who inhabit cyberspace through videos posted on YouTube. One of them even “moved up” and was a contestant on a reality show (fittingly enough) for one season. But the shows are typically about playing video games or their own naiive takes on news events presented in a style reminiscent of Saturday Night Live's Weekend Update skits.
But it's not just the kids who are turning assorted computer geeks into “celebrities. I was talking to a woman the other day who is nearly my age who admitted to me that she is always checking to see if new videos are posted by a certain woman who demonstrates makeup. Apparently the video-maker has plenty of followers who feed on her every suggestion.
Other YouTube “celebrities” do other ground-breaking things like point a video camera inside their dresser drawers and describe the items inside, often with language that would make a sailor blush. Amateur filmmakers produce parody videos skewering anything hot in the world of pop culture. And the videos become popular, and the video-makers become popular, and eventually turn into Internet “celebrities.”
The old commercial used to ask, “What would you do for a Klondike bar?” but I am asking, “What would you do to become a celebrity?” Display your drawers and their contents for millions upon millions to see? Perform feats of idiocy to get people to watch? Play video games and tell people what you think about them? Well, those things have already been done, and who knows how many of their 15 minutes of fame still remain.
But I wonder why someone would want to be a celebrity in the first place. Interviews with real celebrities that I have heard have also included tales of being chased by photographers, being never given any privacy in a public place (including the rest room), and being nearly assaulted for not stopping to talk with every person who recognizes them.
Who needs that? Then again, the same celebrities talk about never having to wait in long lines, getting free food and other special goodies, and being given respect despite their poor behavior. So maybe it's time to dust off the video camera...

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