Fame has always been one of the greatest allures for thousands of people. If a person had an outstanding talent, he or she could find admirers and, with the help of hard work and a little bit of luck, become a celebrity. With the development of mass media and the Internet, however, a person can become famous overnight, and possession of talent is not required. In her article, Meghan Daum speaks exactly about such fame and she coins a special term for it — fame-iness which is similar to the usual fame, only for it is fleeting and is not based on extraordinary abilities to sing, act, paint or do anything else much better than the others.
Daum confesses that she does not know most of modern celebrities. Really, being famous means to be known to general public, to be recognized on the streets, to be a household name. If someone speaks about Madonna, Sting, Michael Jackson, Bill Clinton and others, he or she does not have to explain the interlocutor who all these people are, because everyone knows them. If you meet one of them in the street, you are surprised and happy. Still, the chances that one can run into them somewhere in a supermarket are very slim, because they have their own assistants who do all the shopping for them. Such celebrities are so admired and beloved and respected that it seems that they are not like real people. They have got millions of fans all over the world, each of whom dreams of being similar to them, to meet them in person, to marry them, etc. That is probably why they are called stars — everyone can see them and enjoy the way they “shine”, but they are absolutely unreachable. Looking at modern stars, however, I see that they do not correspond to my own definition of fame, and, as Daum says, “these days it seems that only crotchety dinosaur types like me still harbor such provincial notions of what it means to be famous.”
Some years ago, one had to work extremely hard to be called famous. Actors would visit hundreds of castings to be approved for a role, musicians would play everywhere possible for free, and artists would paint numerous pictures before some of them would be displayed in a gallery. Everyone wanted to be famous, because I seemed that very few people could become stars. “Part of the allure of fame was that access was limited. You pretty much had to show up regularly on network television, in studio movies or on top-40 radio.” Nowadays, it is easier than ever to be shown on television and only the laziest people do not have some video with them on the Internet. There is no need to work hard to become famous, the main thing required is to understand what people want to see and follow the trend. It has become even easier to live the “American dream” with the appearance of different talent shows. On the one hand, they might be the only chance for many gifted people to revel themselves; otherwise, they would not be able to bring their talents to public view. Such shows as X Factor or American Idol have got their analogues all over the world and with each season they “produce” more and more “stars”. It is worth mentioning, though, that these shows’ names are probably more popular than the names of those who become famous participating in them. Unfortunately, there is no restriction in who can participate in the show which provides “even more opportunities for untalented, often downright annoying people” coming there just to be shown on TV, which is annoying and evokes disgust to talent shows.
Given the number of celebrities appearing on the stage day by day, the competition in the show-business is growing. In my opinion, this should mean that each next singer or actor/actress has to be more talented than the previous one. Unfortunately, this is not particularly true. They decided to go the other way — look different, striking, and freaky. Lady Gaga, Zombie Boy, Marilyn Manson — all of them surprise with their appearance so much that they cannot but attract attention. And it does not matter how well they can perform or if they can do it at all, they become famous as soon as people see them. So, shocking behavior is another way to become a celebrity and appear on tabloids, even if for one day. As Daum says, “the mystique of so many celebrities is rooted less in their accomplishments than in their ability to get our attention by provoking our disgust.” It is very difficult to protect oneself from such “celebrities”, because they are on television, on the radio, on the Internet. The latter is the best means for making yourself known to general public. If someone has got a talent, all they have to do is to record a video, upload it on Youtube and wait for people to watch and “like” it. Some of the videos are not that interesting, some are rather good, and some beat all the records like “Gangnam Style” did. PSY has become internationally famous in no time, but the world knows only one his song, and no one is sure if he will manage to keep his fame. One impressive example of gaining popularity online and waking up famous is the recent Harlem Shake dance. A group of students were bored and made a meaningless video performing a peculiar 30 second dance. Strangely enough, they produced a wave of euphoria around the world with people making similar videos in nearly every country. However, this fame is only fleeting, and soon everyone will forget about them.
One the one hand, uploading a video which will make a person famous is a good idea, but very often people become famous not being aware of that. This could be your friend or a passer-by who films you being in an awkward situation, and the next day, all the world will know about it. This is exactly what happened to a woman giving an interview about the fire in her neighborhood. Someone liked the way she spoke and transformed it into a song called “Ain’t nobody got time for that”. Whether she likes it or not, this woman is on many people’s ringtones right now. Generally speaking, the Internet is the most effective facility for both those who want to be popular and those who have already become rich and famous. The latter create accounts in all existing social networking sites, like Twitter or Facebook, and share their personal information with the world. Very often, though, the world would prefer not to know it. For some celebrities, rumors is the only possible way to stay popular, and the more publicity talks about their affairs, court cases or hair styles, the happier they are. It may be annoying, however, to hear a people talking about someone’s personal life, but not even know who exactly they talk about.
Despite all the downsides fame has, most people still want to be stars, and, as it has been mentioned, one does not have to be talented to become as celebrity any more. If you cannot sing, act, dance or anything of this kind, but still dream of fame, you can become a so-called socialite. It is hard to understand what they actually do, it seems they simply go clubbing and visit different parties. The fact that they are rich and glamorous, like Paris Hilton, for example, and appear at every possible event makes them popular. However, most of modern day celebrities’ names will be forgotten in a couple years. I doubt if they will be known to the next generations, or will be called “legendary” after their death. This is because “Fame is no longer about reaching the masses but about finding a niche audience somewhere.” There are celebrities for teens, for housewives, for businessmen and many more, but no one tries to appeal to everyone simultaneously, because this is challenging and requires hard work and big talent.
To sum up, the notion of fame has transformed dramatically over the last couple years. If previously being famous meant to be a household name, nowadays, it means to find a target audience. With the development of modern technologies and the appearance of numerous talent shows, one has more chances to demonstrate a talent and gain popularity. However, it is becoming more and more difficult to avoid men and women who have no talent and become stars, thus turning fame into fame-iness.