How to be Famous in the 21st Century
What Defines a Celebrity?
We've all heard the term before, but what does it mean really? Is a celebrity someone who is simply popular, is it because they have immense wealth, or is it due to their accomplishments in various fields including entertainment, athletics, and the unusual, etc?
A celebrity should be defined as someone who has received critical acclaim, is well known, and who is likely financially successful. In the golden age of Hollywood the term celebrity placed extra emphasis on critical acclaim as many movie stars, athletes, and other entertainers were known for their accolades.
Another attribute especially designed for female celebrities is their beauty or attractiveness. Some of the most beautiful women in Hollywood were defined during the golden age including icons like Marilyn Monroe, Audrey Hepburn, Sophia Loren, and Elizabeth Taylor.
In the present we still have a plethora of celebrity icons known for both their talent and beauty, but there's been a clear shift in how a famous person was defined 40-60 years ago to today. Probably the biggest keyword that has changed regarding iconic status is talent.
Talent was extremely important along with the other attributes that defined the actors and actresses of past generations and among athletes, political figures, world leaders, and other historic individuals. How has the meaning of talent changed today?
Top 5 Celebrity Attributes
1. Money or Wealth
People with money have power, it brings with it fame, and people view money as a measure of success.
The more you're seen in the public eye and in various projects, the more likely you are to stay current and not be forgotten. Notoriety or controversy can draw a lot of attention but is often a huge con towards your public image.
This may not be mandatory in today's era, but it garners massive respect from the general public and increases your likability and trust.
4. Fan Base
With today's nonstop growing social media use this is a must if you want to achieve fame. The more followers and subscribers you have the greater your popularity and influence.
This is a huge positive especially for female celebrities and in the past an actresses beauty was iconic. When it comes to authenticity, natural versus enhanced beauty will always be favored. Too much reliance on this attribute and less on talent could garner excoriation and a negative image from critics.
Is Talent Necessary for Modern Celebrity Status?
What attributes are important in today's society when defining modern day celebrities? The general grouping of qualities hasn't really changed since 50 or 60 years ago, but the emphasis on them has.
At least two of those attributes haven't changed all that much and those are popularity/notoriety and wealth. The more money you have the more likely you are to be noticed. If you match your wealth to what kind of fame you have, then you might be considered a celebrity, however; does that mean you're talented?
I know an obvious choice when it comes to celebrities lacking talent is Kim Kardashian and most of the Kardashian family. She and her family have a lot of financial success, and they are extremely popular but many people have a problem with their celebrity status.
They are clearly modern day celebrities but the respect factor is relatively low, so even in our modern age there is still a heavy reliance on critical acclaim and achieving success because of your skills.
The quick simple answer to whether talent is necessary for the modern day celebrity is a big fat no. In fact with reality television and the endless supply of social media, as long as you have a large following and are financially successful then you are defined as a celebrity.
It helps even more if your attractiveness is considered to be rated highly by the majority of your fans.
How you choose to be portrayed as a star or starlet is completely up to you. Are you just an attention seeker who likes to show off their figure or do you want people to see your skill and depth as an entertainer or an athlete?
Do you want people to view you as intelligent who could change the world or someone who flaunts their cash? I assume most celebrities wish to be viewed positively by people and their peers, but the choices they make will affect people's perceptions of them greatly.
The toughest part of being a celebrity is that every move they make is magnified. Our honest mistakes could be forgiven but a star's honest mistake could be scrutinized to death and even wreck their reputation.
Traditional vs. Reality Star
In the 1990s reality television made a huge impact on our popular culture with the launch of the Real World. Since then it has expanded to singing contests, dancing contests, athletic competitions, dating shows, and various other genres of reality TV.
Reality TV has been responsible for generating a whole new group of celebrities mostly due to their notoriety, controversy and personality.
The public's view on these programs remains mixed with some people strongly against them and others praising them for giving "normal" people opportunities they never would have had otherwise. Talent related shows have shown to be very successful in showcasing the hidden potential of its competitors and some have garnered the audience's respect.
Shows like American Idol, The Voice, and X Factor combined real world dynamics with the discovery of hidden talent.
Without these shows we would have never known about the middle aged Susan Boyle of the X Factor or Carrie Underwood of American Idol fame. Even one of the most popular band groups today, One Direction, were created and starred on a talent show.
These last couple decades represent a dramatic shift from more traditional celebrity statuses. Usually it took years of schooling, training, rejections, auditions, and break out roles for people to achieve such a high status. Those are the same reasons why we still hold those individuals to a higher level of respect and appreciation over our reality stars.
Developing skills, working hard, and achieving greatness through years of training and practice will always hold greater value over people who become overnight successes.
A New Era of Fame
Since the launch of YouTube we've seen a whole new group of celebrities emerge, and this group is poised to keep growing. They are essentially self made internet stars, which differs from the reality TV format.
With reality shows there's already a concept and roles established that people must follow but internet stars create their own roles. With the emergence of social media and the more interactive approach of YouTube these new stars have developed a uniqueness like no other.
In our modern day pop culture many children and teens know more about their favorite Youtubers than they do traditional celebrities, and there are reasons for this. YouTube remains the most popular among the younger demographic so by that virtue alone Youtubers are more likely to attract that same audience.
YouTube allows direct communication between the viewer and its creator, and this is something that's a lot more difficult to do with traditional celebrities. I know there is still Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, and other social media platforms available for celebrity interaction but Youtubers utilize those platforms to a much greater extent than a typical celebrity does.
This interactive nature along with the hipness of YouTube is what drives this new form of celebrity. Among kids and teens there is a feeling that YouTube belongs to them instead of their parents, which has always been seen as highly appealing to the youth.
When social media platforms originated it was initially discovered and used by kids and teens, but eventually more and more adults began using it so it lost that "coolness" factor among the youth. As long as the demographic skews young then there's no question that YouTube and its Youtubers fame will continue to grow.
The Future of Mainstream Celebrities
Chances are that the younger generation will continue to favor other forms of celebrity versus the traditional, which will prompt traditional celebrities to explore different platforms.
We've already seen some celebrities dabble into YouTube in the hopes of attracting the younger fan base as well as becoming more interactive with them. It's a little difficult to gauge on what new trends will emerge but being relevant and engaging will remain crucial.
Youtubers on the other hand will probably try to expand their brand through more traditional platforms in order to do different things and gain critical respect. Like the reality TV stars before them and those today, gaining respect from critiques and the general public will prove to be a daunting task.
Trying to break out will also have a negative effect on their current YouTube audience who may feel slighted once their favorite Youtubers try to go beyond the video sharing site. It's going to be a very fine line for both traditional celebrities and Youtubers and neither is certain what new trends will emerge in the coming years.
From the golden age of Hollywood to the transition period to reality TV and now Youtubers, the definition of celebrity has continued to evolve. The concepts of beauty, talent, relevance, and skills have changed significantly and will continue to change.
Some things will never change though like popularity and money because those categories are what differentiate them from us. We will continue to put them down, praise them, judge them, want to be like them, interact with them, hate them, and love them because they are our celebrities and they'll continue to fascinate us no matter what happens.