The Study of Celebrities

The term celebrity refers to individuals who achieve fame and broad public recognition through the attention bestowed on them by media of mass communication. A person can become a celebrity through a number of working fields, though it is more common for celebrities to be involved in the entertainment industry such as film and television acting, music singing or professional sports playing. Celebrities can also gain fame and recognition in a variety of other ways such as through television or radio show hosting, writing books and magazines, high-end fashion designing and jewelry design, fast food, credit cards, alcoholic beverages, consumer electronics and household items.

It is often portrayed that celebrities possess skills and abilities beyond the reach of ordinary people. This is especially evident in the way that actors are celebrated for their ability to learn new roles in a very short period of time and to perform them with an almost flawlessness that amazes the professionals who train them. Other examples of this type of hero-worship are credited to celebrities who have accomplished extraordinary feats of athleticism or bravery.

While this adoration of the celebrity is often thought to be harmless, it can actually have harmful consequences on society. For example, it has been shown that some celebrity scandals can lead to a decline in morality among the general population and an increase in crime. In addition, the omnipresence of the celebrity culture can make it more difficult for other important news to compete with the scandalous and sensational headlines that surround many celebrities.

Aside from the negative effects of celebrity, there is a positive side as well. Celebrities have a unique position to bring awareness of many issues and causes that would otherwise be overlooked or under-reported. For instance, celebrities who have spoken out about mental health challenges such as depression or anxiety have helped to raise awareness of these conditions and break down the stigma that surrounds them. Additionally, celebrity endorsements of products such as bottled water, vitamins and dietary supplements have had a significant effect on consumer purchasing decisions.

The study of celebrities is an intriguing and multifaceted field of research. Life-writing scholarship and celebrity studies reveal a great deal of common ground in their respective analyses of cultural fascinations with both life narratives and the phenomenon of the celebrity. Both disciplines illuminate ambivalent emotional currents that run the gamut from an ardent desire for hero-worship and a reverence for exemplary exceptionalism to a disdain for culturally fetishised extraordinariness and a hunger for a socially levelling, humanising debunking of the celebrity fantasy. In the end, the study of celebrities helps us to understand the complex and ambivalent effects that celebrity culture has on our everyday lives.