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The Meaning of Celebrity Culture and Fandom


A celebrity is a widely known person or a famous person that attracts media attention and the public. Celebrity image was born in the media that prompted the relationship between fame, ordinary people and television. Celebrity status is usually generated from the media; people can also become famous without having to pass through the media. A popular person can be subjected to likable or unlikable status, sometimes charming or anti-social depending on the crowd at that particular period. Public figures and celebrities to not have a private life at all, these people decide time to time how much of their image should displayed out there but at times they may not have control over it because journalist invade their private lives. Celebrities have to come up with away to deal with public controversies since they are always subjected to them (Lelia 2006).

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Today’s world is mixed up with a wide range of confusing disordered people that want to be termed as “celebrity”: heroes and wicked people, talented and untalented, people you have succeeded in life and those that did not. The criteria for classifying celebrities is subjected to suit our imaginary images of some form of “American Dream” that we want to achieve some day or they have already achieved, that’s why we idolize them. The encapsulated images give an appearance of wealth, success, charisma, danger and heroism enough to feed our fantasies for the time before we change to something else. The world no longer demands reality images, it sticks to that which is illusory. The world has created its own synthetic celebrity images that we bow down to and absent ourselves from everyday ethical and moral assessments that keep up the health of a society. We stick to extinct standards that obey the “devised” celebrities and ward them all our reserved rewards that should instead be given to people who warrant the adulation of public applaud, social acceptance, access to the headlines, monetary merits and the ability to leverage the power structures and country’s institutions. They have decided to reward these public figures are absolved from hard rules and equal justice compared to other individuals (Goldsmith online).

Example, when a film executive Robert Evans was convicted of cocaine, we was sentenced to create programs that would discourage young people from using drugs. When Frank Lloyd, an art dealer was accused of falsifying purchase and sale prices of the late Mark Rothko’s paintings, by doing that, he swindled the deceased two children millions of dollars, he was then sentenced to donate $100,00 for Public Schools fund extended to educate children in art. Dyer investigates on how cinemas and films images of individuals influence the way we think of ourselves and others. Emphasis on these images has been moved to a higher perspective of viewing these public images from political angle, screen acting/performance and factual audiences (Holmes 4).

Celebrity in American society is spreading very fast. Televisions and magazines such as New York Times and Washington post would close down without featuring celebrity stories. Celebrity has come part of people life that’s has brought the phenomenon of Culture of Celebrity. Celebrity culture emerged in the 20th century as a trend for urbanisation and rapid appetites developed from consumer cultures. These images were shaped by new technology that made easily quick dissemination of images and information across media networks such as internet, television, cinemas and radios. The publication of celebrities such as in magazines such as People and tabloids (Star and National Enquirer) as well as talk shows, public consumption of these images become overwhelming (Schickel 1985).

Our society is never concerned about questioning the qualification of people we choose to celebrate. We continue to manufacture our fantasies and destroy our former role models we ever had. Our images has created and produced synthetic celebrities that we want to worship because they represent our basest desires at that time. The media also contribute a lot in propelling us into celebrity and public figures through magazines, newspapers, network radio and Hollywood movies. These media houses transform celebrities into prominent positions then slowly into national psyche. Once the images are created, they are passed across the nation, then the world. Media publicity can also transmit images and turn out to be disastrous. For example, television can turn terrorism acts into an international spectacle, allowing the terrorist to freely use their transmission facilities to publicise their causes. Political protesters on the other hand are left to stage demonstrations in front of cameras to attract public attention. Intimate tragedies have turned into public events, propelling the perpetrators into temporal celebrity actors (Goldsmith online).

Fandom refers to collective funs or a subculture that has dedicated fans. These people are obsessed with particular musical groups, films, movie stars, books and hobbies. They pick up to try to find of any valuable information about their hobby and discuss continuity errors or even argue passionately about a certain actor. The fandom of celebrities range from traditionalist (who read on any material they find on celebrities and transform the text into a realistic presentation) and believers on other hand (read celebrity text and appreciate it but still hold on to the belief that a real person exist in text) such as Postmodernists and Game-players who derive their pleasure from the process involved in detection rather than the end results. Fandom ride on beliefs verses disbeliefs, fiction/reality and have no particular destination (Holmes 10).

Since post war period, decentralisation brought about explosions of media outlets that imposed synthetic celebrity images on us. Classical Hollywood period identified fame with “greatness or geniuses” that were brought about “natural rise”. Fame was based on internal quality that was natural. However, since the post war period with its outbursts of media outlets, the increasing popularity of these public figures began to jeopardise such myths. In invitation the public to see behind the images, or even assume a cynical attitude towards celebrity culture. The media is imprisoned in the celebrity culture to feed our hungry appetites. They restlessly pursue celebrities going about their own activities such as from exiting clothing stores, loading up their cars at shopping centers or even walking their kids or dogs in the parks. These “democratised” appetites in the media can also extend to scandals, revealing fake tans, sweat patches and other imperfections that’s would sell out (Holmes 11).

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Consumers create celebrities by constantly consuming the content they inhabit. Repeated consumption of the same image forms parasocial relationship. Fandom created here begins to feel like they know that particular person they saw in the media. Celebrities can be classified as performers, actors and synthetic celebrities. Tom Cruise is an example of an actor. Fans describe him as “the best” He played the best teenager in Risky Business, in Top Gun as the best pilot fighter, The Colour of Money as the best pool player and still the “best” in other movies he has starred in. All the characters he represented in the movies are embodied in a core set of values such as rebellion, loyal, trustworthy, patriotism, independent, attractive, confident, passionate, aggressiveness and anger. The consistence projection of these virtues continues to attract the same audiences. While in James Bond and Batman fans are attached to the character that supersedes what they know of him to the next character that plays the role (Zimmerman & Ayoob 4).

Brazilian mass culture revolves around televelas that spreads mass communication products across other networks such as televisions shows and celebrity magazines such as Globo that features celebrity stars on its covers. Their images are exposed to millions of audiences on talk shows, advertising campaigns and other public events. Most of these actors and actresses receive tons mails from fans occasionally. We would call this kind of supporter fandom. On letters sent to actor and actresses, fans try to stress their point out in order to win the idols attention- that shows the difference between a celebrity and fandom. They would go to the length of asking for phone numbers and home address of their idol. Letters from fans express variation of theme uniqueness that include words such as am your; “eternal fan”, big fan” “super fan” or even “number one fan”. On advertisement, products guarantee individuals will be beautiful if they wear the product. Messages exchanged from mass media and audience through mass communication double blinds the relationship with the audience (Maria 8).

What mass media does is to emphasise the uniqueness of this stars and force on the crowds. Comparison between a celebrity and a fandom is that they both have capacity to provide individualism with experience of fusionist nature, letting their inner self have a feeling of deep reunion with another. The feelings can mutually exclusive; they could experience love and charisma at the same time but the feelings would not be last a lifetime because one would be satisfied by either of these emotional experiences. The feelings of desire of both a celebrity culture and fandom are a like in the nature of desire they appease, however, Western contemporary mass society differentiate this feelings love and charisma in accordance to their perceptions. Western contemporary society define love as “utmost experience of all” while charisma as a follower otherwise known as a fandom. To clearly distinguish between the two, twentieth century Hollywood movies revolve around major themes such as love and would portray the actors as heroes and funs expressed as psychological disturbed individuals and destined as unhappy at the end of the movie. It is hard for fan to deal with deal with emotional love after watching these movies and the dire consequences. They either deny or assert the feeling (Maria 10).

Celebrity and fandom are both my products of massification and globalization. Both of these individuals represent universal phenomena (Maria 11). Since fabricated celebrity image can be altered at will, this image keeps changing to suit what the media dictates at that particular time. What was the 1960s hip image of black leather motorcycle jacket, drugged companions and patched sunglasses are longer the go-go image of today. The 1960’s have been replaced with tailored suits and social parties. Image is very important to the celebrity people judge him according to what they see at that particular time. Advertisements have taken advantage of celebrities by branding them with products to be sold. Joan Collins was endorsed with Scoundrel perfume to be sold with many others that want the public to by products so as to look like what they term perfect celebrity. Some people also become celebrities by appearing on advertisements. For instance, the president of Helmsley Hotels, Leona Helmsley become a celebrity by dispensing her largess to potential guest in the advertisements showing off phone in the bath, king size bed and magnifying mirror (Goldsmith online).

Consumers get to pick and choose celebrities through displayed images in the media, they decide whom they want and whom to drop at any given time. Products are linked to celebrity images in order to create consumer-celebrity relationship. Examples of celebrity products include tea kettles, replica sports jersey printed with soccer stars such as David Beckham and Princess Diana emblazoned in commemorative plates. Fantasy consumers construct around celebrity. A celebrity fun designs a personal story and unique experience either as a celebrity or being with a celebrity. Michael Jordan’s shoes “Nike”, consumers felt like wearing those shoes would make them become the basket ball star. Disney character Simba make children construct adventure by picking out their favourite character in the Lion King movie. These activities give consumers the freedom to choose their own personal content for consumption. Consumers internalise celebrities and make on- way relationship (Zimmerman & Ayoob 13).


Celebrities have helped reform our industrial society by promoting tourist destinations thereby developing the economy. Celebrity involvement in tourism activities promotes familiarity, image and visitation intentions. According to a survey conducted out in Japan examine their perception of Korea in relation Korean celebrities, their involvement in tourism activities helped Japanese people be familiar with the places and interested to visit the places. The emergence of tourism is based entirely on powerful impacts of mass media, celebrities and public figures in the post-industrial society. Charitable activities organised by celebrities boost post industrial society because it benefits the economy and the celebrity profile as well. But people may use this opportunities to attract media attention that would help them get celebrity free pass. Celebrity has generated indirect economic benefits through media networks that offer them free entry. (Soojin 809).

In conclusion celebrity status is big business and is still growing business for the years to come. It developed quickly and decays quickly rather than accumulating over the years. Celebrity status serves the interest of capitalism. Consumers have the freedom to create their own celebrities and form valuable relationships with them. Products christened in celebrity names try to maintain relationships through activities that allow them to temporarily experience life as or with a celebrity.

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Works Cited

Goldsmith Barbara. 2007. “The meaning of Celebrity”. 2008. Web.

Schickel, Richard. “Intimate Strangers: The Culture of Celebrity.” Garden city, N.Y: Doubleday, 1985.

Su Holmes. “Starring..Dyer?: Re-visiting Star Studies and Contemporary Celebrity Culture. Westminster papers in Communication and Culture: Vol. 2(2) (2005): p. 1-16.

Soojin Lee, David Scott, & Hyounggon Kim. “ Celebrity fun involvement and destination perception”. Anal of tourism research 35 (2008): 809-832.

Lelia, Green. “Understanding celebrity and the public sphere”. csr12-2-15 (2006) : 1-11.

Maria, Claudia C. “Experiencing Television Fandom: Notes on the Tension Between Singularization and Massification in Brazil. Westminster papers in Communication and Culture: Vol. 2(2) (2005) pp. 1-16.

Zimmerman, john., & Ayoob, Ellen. “The Role of Products in Consumer-Celebrity Relationships”. Carnegie Mellon University (2004): 1-15.

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