Faith in Celebrity? (fame vs celebrity)
Former student president Elyse Mackinnon continues her reflections on faith in a celebrity culture.
I tried my best not to watch the current season of Big Brother, however I gave in… and watch it every single night (it’s tradition!!). This year I have been amazed at how confident the contestants are in believing that they will have a glittering career in showbiz upon leaving the house. Often this is not the case, they are known during their time within the house but as soon as they exit the public forget their names. It is a dream that many have: to become a household name. Celebrity now relates more than ever to the Latin meaning of the word, celebrem, as it indicates “a relationship in which a person is marked out as possessing singularity, and a social structure in which the character of fame is fleeting” (Rojek, 2001:9). The world of celebrity is fast-paced – it is ever-changing with a continuous flow of celebrities and it is certainly not guaranteed to last forever.
Andy Warhol stated “In the future everyone will be world-famous for 15 minutes” (1968). Having understood that celebrity can be fleeting, surely fame means something different, something more than just 15 minutes? I believe that gone are the days when you needed a talent to become famous; the lines are now blurred as to what separates someone from being famous or being a celebrity. Turner (2013:102) states “One of the main differences between the contemporary celebrity and the famous person of old is that fame used to be the result of greatness”. People are now becoming ‘insta-famous’ by just posting pictures on Instagram, and reality TV shows such as TOWIE are seen to be a great opportunity to become ‘known’, but this is a fleeting moment.
The blurring of the line between celebrity and fame allows for people to appear to attain both. Today, fans want to know what famous people are up to, which effectively forces the famous person into the image-driven world of celebrity. It may be because of a talent that certain individuals are marked out, such as Beyoncé and Taylor Swift. However due to the fame they gain, people take an interest in their personal lives and the press are more than happy to cover this, both positively and negatively. Famous people may not necessarily seek to become a celebrity yet they are automatically classed as celebrities due to the media attention. Therefore fame is something that is earned and remembered but celebrity, as we know it, is often not.
As it appears there are no major differences between fame and celebrity in today’s society, celebrity culture includes all kinds of ‘famous’ people – regardless of talent, greatness, and whether or not they can be long-lasting within the industry.
C Rojek (2001), Celebrity, Reaktion Books
S Turner (2013), Pop Cultured: Thinking Christianly about style, media and entertainment, IVP