What is a Celebrity?


A celebrity is a person who has achieved fame in the public eye and is often admired or idolised. They usually achieve fame in the fields of movies, music, writing or sports. Some people become celebrities through their work, while others achieve fame for their lifestyle or wealth. Some celebrities also achieve notoriety for their wrong-doings or misdemeanours. Celebrities are often scrutinised by the media and may be the subject of gossip or tabloid articles. Some people who are not celebrities are apprehensive about meeting them or having them as friends because of their status in the public eye and the potential for negative consequences.

The term celebrity derives from the Latin word for ‘fame’. Its first recorded use was in C15 and referred to the observance of ritual or special formality at an important event, such as a coronation or wedding. Other early meanings included ‘fame through a fad’ and ‘the state of being famous’. The modern sense of celebrity emerged with the rise of film and television. Film stars became famous as a result of their work on the screen and gained celebrity status through the success of their films. Other people gain celebrity through appearing in TV shows and being interviewed by the media. Many musicians, singers and songwriters gain celebrity by having their songs listened to by a large number of people. People who have gone into outer space, high-ranking politicians and television show hosts can also be regarded as celebrities.

In addition, some celebrities are well known because of their philanthropic activities and charity work. However, some people find the idea of becoming a celebrity to be undesirable as they believe that the majority of celebrities are narcissistic attention-seeking greedy assholes who care about nothing but money and don’t deserve to be famous.

The popularity of celebrity has been further increased with the advent of social networking sites and blogs, where people can share their opinions about a particular celebrity. The phenomenon has also led to the formation of reality TV, where famous people compete in various challenges to win money and other prizes. These programmes have been criticised by some people for their depiction of working-class celebrities as a group of ‘improper people’ who are excessively corporeal and make poor consumption choices and who lack moral worth and cultural capital (Allen and Mendick, 2013; Skeggs and Wood, 2011). These celebrities are also portrayed as pedagogic tools in the sense that they can show viewers how not to behave, what not to wear, what not to do.