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What's Up With Celebrity?


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February 21, 2006

What's Up With Celebrity?

Heather Green

I always associated the rise of celebrity culture with the rise of mass media. So, I was kind of hoping that as mass media became less powerful because of the Internet and digital technologies, the power of celebrity would wane. That's not looking like a good bet.

According to the latest magazine circulation numbers, US Weekly, Star, and InTouch, are gaining the most ground. These, of course, are the ones that do their darndest to make sure we don't miss out on the hottest craze in celebrity hair coloring (brown is apparently the new blond) or latest partner swapping news among the Hollywood set.

So what's going on? Do we connect with celebrities because our virtual relationships are replacing our mass media ones, which of course, replaced our local community ones?

I remember reading a few years ago that we care about celebrities because we feel we know them. (Actually, the Economist also wrote about this in December). This is a vestige, apparently, of community ties we developed early, tens of thousands of years ago, when we lived in small clans. We learned to read behavior and facial expressions to develop trust and our brains catalog people whose faces we see often as part of our clan.

So, after seeing Jennifer Aniston 14,000 times on magazine covers, news Web sites, gossip blogs, and TV last year, is it any wonder that I think she's part of my clan and I feel bad for her? Honestly, I would be unsocial if I didn't.

But will my virtual community free me from seeing Jennifer everwhere? I am not sure.

09:40 AM

society

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Unforunately, it is far more likely that the virtual world will offer up a whole new group of "celebrities" whom we feel we know, because we read their blogs and see their family pics on flickr, but who are just as removed from us as the movie stars in US and People.

Posted by: Susan Getgood at February 21, 2006 11:44 AM

Hey, I've been out of town for a few days. What's up with Jennifer Aniston?

Posted by: steve baker at February 21, 2006 05:10 PM

Oh, you know, I mean just generally, the whole Brad/Angelina thing. I mean, that has to be rough for Jen.

Posted by: Heather Green at February 21, 2006 06:01 PM

It is just the same old economics principle, celebrity magazines sell because people buy them, the origin behind that,……. well maybe because the whole jet set stuff has been excellently marketed throughout the years, and mass media helps by hammering it at a daily basis, but still, the world is changing and, yes I do agree with Susan, that the blogosphere will, create a bunch of new celebrities in the future because we bloggers feel more connected to them. To be very honest I am more interested to know details about Stephen´s new book than on the Jen - Brad- Jolie story.

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