Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Starstruck Blog Post

The segment of the reading I found interesting this week concerned the distinction between fame and celebrity.  I had never really thought to distinguish between someone who is famous, such as Bill Gates, and a celebrity, like Madonna.  Being famous just means people know who you are, usually because of some contribution you’ve made to society or some talent you have.  Being a celebrity is independent of talent or societal contributions.  Some of the most worthless people on the planet are celebrities; their comings and goings are tracked by the tabloid press and mainstream media like astronauts track dangerous asteroids.  You don’t really see the press reporting on Bill Gates’s preference for wheat grass enemas (this is just me speculating here.)

The distinction between celebrity and fame is critical in a social studies classroom for a multitude of reasons.  First, it has real-life applications to the kids’ school and later work interactions.  There are always school ‘celebrities,’ i.e. the popular kids, and kids who are ‘famous’ around the school for being talented, athletic, super-intelligent, etc.  Unlike in real life, however, in high school, those kids are often the same people (well, maybe not the smart kids.)  Second, the study of celebrity is a phenomenon that gets at the core of who we are as people.  A society’s values can be determined by the types of people who we worship (in our case, we’re doomed.)

I’m responding to Question 5 on the Prezi, which asks whether or not celebrity events are fabricated stories based on the centralized geographical locations in which celebrities are typically found.  I think, overall, the answer is yes.  Hollywood and L.A. are typically where you find most celebrities for a reason – that’s where the entertainment hub of the United States is located.  However, because that is the entertainment hub, you’re bound to find celebrities.  It’s sort of a truism.  And let’s not forget that papparazii (sp?) follow celebrities around the globe!  So clearly celebrity extends beyond the bounds of these informal geographical barriers, even if celebrities are ‘born’ in Hollywood and L.A.


  1. Shawn,

    The difference between a "celebrity" and someone "famous" is quite interesting. I think a lot of it lies in the fact that people don't really care about people that live upstanding lives without much controversy, i.e. Bill Gates. Our society obsesses over celebrities like Kim Kardashian and Paris Hilton because they're "scandalous", and scandals are exciting and never boring. That's why so many little teeny boppers are walking around quoting these people. They think they're exciting and live lives void of boredom. I think another aspect of it is kind of sadistic. People love to see others suffering and struggling. Therefore, when Paris is in jail on her latest DUI, people take solace in it. People don't want to hear about some genious who's more successful and more intelligent than them. Instead, they want to see someone making mistakes and gossip about how "crazy" they are.

  2. Totally agree with you, Shawn, about the societal values thing. And yes, Alanna, it is quite amazing that people take such joy in tearing people down who were once on a pedestal (e.g., LIndsay Lohan). Probably the celebrity I was always the most fascinated by since I was a kid was Jackie Kennedy, and I still think she's in a category all by herself although I'm still not exactly sure what that category is. American royalty, I guess. There was even a photographer who achieved fame by spending his entire career stalking only her.