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Celeb

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Celeb which is slang for celebrity, refers to the fame and public attention accorded by the mass media to individuals or groups or, occasionally, animals, but is usually applied to the persons or groups of people (celebrity couples, families, etc.) themselves who receive such a status of fame and attention. Successful careers in sports and entertainment are commonly associated with celebrity status,[1][2]. People may also become celebrities due to media attention on their lifestyle, or controversial actions.

History[edit | edit source]

Athletes in Ancient Greece were welcomed home as heroes, had songs and poems written in their honor, and received free food and gifts from those seeking celebrity endorsement.[3] Ancient Rome similarly lauded actors and notorious gladiators, and Julius Caesar appeared on a coin in his own lifetime (a departure from the usual depiction of battles and divine lineage).[4]

In the early 12th century, Thomas Becket became famous following his murder. He was promoted by the Christian Church as a martyr and images of him and scenes from his life became widespread in just a few years. In a pattern often repeated, what started out as an explosion of popularity (often referred to with the suffix 'mania') turned into a long-lasting fame: pilgrimages to Canterbury Cathedral where he was killed became instantly fashionable and the fascination with his life and death have inspired plays and films.

The cult of personality (particularly in the west) can be traced back to the Romantics in the 18th century,[5] whose livelihood as artists and poets depended on the currency of their reputation. The establishment of cultural hot-spots became an important factor in the process of generating fame: for example, London and Paris in the 18th and 19th centuries. Newspapers started including gossip columns [6] and certain clubs and events became places to be seen in order to receive publicity.

The movie industry spread around the globe in the first half of the 20th century and with it the now familiar concept of the instantly recognizable faces of its superstars. Yet, celebrity wasn't always tied to actors in films, especially when cinema was starting out as a medium. As Paul McDonald states in The Star System: Hollywood's Production of Popular Identities, "in the first decade of the twentieth century, American film production companies withheld the names of film performers, despite requests from audiences, fearing that public recognition would drive performers to demand higher salaries."[7] Public fascination went well beyond the on-screen exploits of movie stars and their private lives became headline news: for example, in Hollywood the marriages of Elizabeth Taylor and in Bollywood the affairs of Raj Kapoor in the 1950s.

The second half of the century saw television and popular music bring new forms of celebrity, such as the rock star and the pop group, epitomised by Elvis Presley and the Beatles, respectively. John Lennon's highly controversial 1966 quote: "We're more popular than Jesus now,"[8] which he later insisted was not a boast, and that he was not in any way comparing himself with Christ,[9] gives an insight into both the adulation and notoriety that fame can bring. Unlike movies, television created celebrities who were not primarily actors; for example, presenters, talk show hosts, and news readers. However, most of these are only famous within the regions reached by their particular broadcaster, and only a few such as Oprah Winfrey, Jerry Springer, or David Frost could be said to have broken through into a wider stardom.

In the '60s and early '70s the book publishing industry began to persuade major celebrities to put their names on autobiographies and other titles in a genre called celebrity publishing. In most cases the book was not written by the celebrity but by a ghost-writer, but the celebrity would then be available for a book tour and appearances on talk shows.[10]

Regional and cultural implications[edit | edit source]

Lydia Canaan, first rock star of the Middle East

Cultures and regions with a significant population may have their own independent celebrity systems, with distinct hierarchies. For example, the Canadian province of Quebec, which is French-speaking, has its own system of French-speaking television, movie and music celebrities. A person who garners a degree of fame in one culture may be considered less famous or obscure in another. Some nationwide celebrities might command some attention outside their own nation; for example, the singer Lara Fabian is widely known in the French-speaking world, but only had a couple of Billboard hits in the U.S., whereas the francophone Canadian singer Celine Dion is well known in both the French-speaking world and in the United States.

Regions within a country, or cultural communities (linguistic, ethnic, or religious) can also have their own celebrity systems, especially in linguistically or culturally distinct regions such as Quebec or Wales. Regional radio personalities and newscasters may be local or regional celebrities.

English-speaking media commentators and journalists will sometimes refer to celebrities as belonging to the A-List or state that a certain actor belongs to the B-List, the latter being a disparaging context. These informal rankings indicate a placing within a hierarchy. However, due to differing levels of celebrity in different regions, it is difficult to place people within one bracket. A Brazilian actor might be a B-list action film actor in the U.S., but an A-list star in Portugal.

Some elements are associated with fame, such as appearing on the cover of Time, being spoofed in Mad, having a wax statue in Madame Tussauds, or receiving a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.

Certain people are known even to people unfamiliar with the area in which they excelled. If one has to name a famous boxer, they are more likely to name Muhammad Ali or Mike Tyson, since their fame expanded beyond the sport itself. Pablo Picasso's style and name are known even to people who are not interested in art; likewise many know that Harry Houdini was an illusionist, Tiger Woods a golfer, Richard Branson, Bill Gates, and Donald Trump are entrepreneurs, Albert Einstein a scientist; Mozart and Beethoven classical composers; Luciano Pavarotti an opera singer, Bruce Lee a martial artist, William Shakespeare a playwright, Walt Disney an animator and Yuri Gagarin and Neil Armstrong astronauts.

Criminals can also become world-famous if the media cover their crimes, arrest, trial and possible punishment extensively and/or if the crime itself is sensational enough. Assassins of high-profile celebrities can become famous, like Brutus who is remembered for murdering Julius Caesar. People who commit extremely gruesome crimes can also achieve infamy, such as Nazi doctor Josef Mengele. Certain criminals have achieved lasting fame thanks to romanticization in popular culture, such as Guy Fawkes, Blackbeard, Billy the Kid and Bonnie & Clyde. Others owe their fame to never being identified or caught, like Jack the Ripper, or by regularly being interviewed in jail, like Charles Manson. However, certain criminals are covered far less extensively in media and, as such, don't become very famous at all. In other cases the huge media coverage disappears after the conclusion of their trial, causing them to fade in obscurity again. This has even happened to people who commit high-profile crimes, like François Ravaillac whose murder of Henry IV of France in 1610 is nowadays only remembered by people with historic knowledge. In some cases people who've been acquitted of certain crimes are still remembered as being guilty today, like Lizzie Borden, showing that the sensation occasionally overshadows the actual facts.

Fictional implications[edit | edit source]

The same phenomenon is true for fictional characters. Sherlock Holmes, Dracula, Frankenstein's Monster and James Bond continue to be portrayed in film, television and literature decades after the original stories were published. Superman, Spider-Man, The Hulk, Wonder Woman, and Batman represent super heroes to a far wider audience than that of the comics and graphic novels in which they appear. The same can be said about other comics characters which enjoy international distribution and syndication such as Popeye, Tintin, Snoopy, Astérix, Garfield and Astro Boy. Disney have theme parks around the world which rely on the fame of its creations headed by Mickey Mouse. Thanks to the global reach of film and television characters like King Kong, Godzilla, The Flintstones, The Muppets and The Simpsons are instantly recognizable to millions. Certain fictional characters known from TV series have become so famous that their names are more well known than those of the actors who perform them. A good example is Larry Hagman who played J.R. Ewing on the TV series Dallas. When his character was shot during a cliffhanger episode without the viewers knowing who was the killer, it caused a media hype around the question: Who Shot J.R.?. By the time the answer was given in the first episode of the next season millions of people instantly recognized Hagman's face as J.R. rather than that of himself. Some characters from video and computer games have developed a celebrity life beyond these media, such as Mario, Lara Croft and Pikachu. Certain advertising characters have also become iconic thanks to decades of constant merchandising, such as Ronald McDonald , Bibendum and Hello Kitty.

Becoming a celebrity[edit | edit source]

People may become celebrities in a wide range of ways; from their professions, following appearances in the media, or by complete accident. The term "instant celebrity" describes someone who becomes a celebrity in a very short period of time. Someone who achieves a small amount of transient fame (through, say, hype or mass media) may become labeled a "B-grade celebrity". Often, the generalization extends to someone who falls short of mainstream or persistent fame but who seeks to extend or exploit it.

Success[edit | edit source]

There are, of course, no guarantees of success for an individual to become a celebrity. Though celebrities come from many different working fields, most celebrities are typically associated with the fields of sports and entertainment, or a person may be a public figure who is commonly recognizable in mass media with commercial and critical acclaim.

Outside of the sports and entertainment sphere, the top inventors, professionals such as doctors, lawyers, and scientists, etc. are unlikely to become celebrities even if they are enormously successful in their field due to society's disinterest in science, invention, medicine, and courtroom law which is not fictional. American microbiologist Maurice Hilleman is credited with saving more lives than any other medical scientist of the 20th century.[11] After Hilleman's death Ralph Nader wrote, "Yet almost no one knew about him, saw him on television, or read about him in newspapers or magazines. His anonymity, in comparison with Madonna, Michael Jackson, Jose Canseco, or an assortment of grade B actors, tells something about our society's and media's concepts of celebrity; much less of the heroic."[12]

Difficulty[edit | edit source]

David Letterman, comedian and former American late night talk show host

A number of athletes who are unable to turn professional take a second job or even sometimes abandon their athletic aspirations in order to make ends meet. A small percentage of entertainers and athletes are able to make a decent living but a vast majority will spend their careers toiling from hard work, determination, rejection, and frequent unemployment. For minor league to amateur athletes, earnings are usually on the lower end of the pay-scale. Many of them take second jobs on the side or even venture into other occupations within the field of sports such as coaching, general management, refereeing, or recruiting and scouting up-and-coming athletes.[13]

Becoming a celebrity in the U.S.[edit | edit source]

The Screen Actors Guild, a union representing actors and actresses throughout Hollywood reports that the average television and film actor earns less than US$50,000 annually; the median hourly wage for actors was $18.80 in May 2015.[14][15][16] Actors sometimes alternate between theater, television, and film or even branch into other occupations within the entertainment industry such as becoming a singer, comedian, producer, or a television host in order to be monetarily diversified, as doing one gig pays comparatively very little. For instance, David Letterman is well known for branching into late night television as a talk show host while honing his skills as a stand-up comedian, Barbra Streisand ventured into acting while operating as a singer, or Clint Eastwood, who achieved even greater fame in Hollywood for being a film director and a producer than for his acting credentials.

According to American entertainment magnate Master P, entertainers and professional athletes make up less than 1% of all millionaires in the entire world.[17] Less than 1% of all runway models are known to make more than US$1000 for every fashion showcase. According to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, the median wage for commercial and print models was only $11.22 per hour in 2006 and was also listed one of the top ten worst jobs in the United States.[18]

As a mass media phenomenon[edit | edit source]

Kim Kardashian, reality TV star

Celebrities often have fame comparable to royalty. As a result, there is a strong public curiosity about their private affairs. The release of Kim Kardashian's sex tape with rapper Ray J in 2003 brought her to a new level of fame, leading to magazine covers, book deals, and reality TV series.[19][20]

Celebrities may be resented for their accolades, and the public may have a love/hate relationship with celebrities. Due to the high visibility of celebrities' private lives, their successes and shortcomings are often made very public. Celebrities are alternately portrayed as glowing examples of perfection, when they garner awards, or as decadent or immoral if they become associated with a scandal. When seen in a positive light, celebrities are frequently portrayed as possessing skills and abilities beyond average people; for example, celebrity actors are routinely celebrated for acquiring new skills necessary for filming a role within a very brief time, and to a level that amazes the professionals who train them. Similarly, some celebrities with very little formal education can sometimes be portrayed as experts on complicated issues. Some celebrities have been very vocal with their political views. For example, Matt Damon expressed his displeasure with 2008 US vice presidential nominee Sarah Palin, as well as with the 2011 United States debt-ceiling crisis.[21][22]

Famous for being famous[edit | edit source]

American socialite Paris Hilton was one of the first celebrities to be described as 'famous for being famous', she has since expanded her brand into a multibillion-dollar empire

Famous for being famous, in popular culture terminology, refers to someone who attains celebrity status for no particular identifiable reason, or who achieves fame through association with a celebrity.[23] The term is a pejorative, suggesting that the individual has no particular talents or abilities.[24] Even when their fame arises from a particular talent or action on their part, the term will sometimes still apply if their fame is perceived as disproportionate to what they earned through their own talent or work.[citation needed]

The coinages "famesque" and "celebutante" are of similar pejorative gist.

Internet celebrities[edit | edit source]

Also known as being internet famous, contemporary fame doesn't always involve a physical red carpet.

Online Fame in Asia[edit | edit source]

A report by BBC highlighted a longtime trend of Asian internet celebrities such as Chinese celebrity Wang Hong (birth name Ling Ling).[25] According to BBC, there are two kinds of online celebrities in China—those who create original content, such as Papi Jiang, who is regularly censored by Chinese authorities for cussing in her videos, and those such as Wang Hong and Zhang Dayi, who fall under the second category, as they have clothing and cosmetics businesses on Taobao, China's equivalent of Amazon.[25]

Social networking and video hosting[edit | edit source]

Most high-profile celebrities participate in social networking and photo or video hosting platforms such as YouTube, Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, and Snapchat.[26] Social networking sites allow celebrities to communicate directly with their fans, removing the middle-man known as traditional media. Social media humanizes celebrities in a way that arouses public fascination as evident by the success of magazines such as Us Weekly and People Weekly. Celebrity blogging have also spawned stars such as Perez Hilton who is well known for not only blogging, but also outing celebrities.[27]

Social media sites have also contributed to the fame of some celebrities, such as Tila Tequila who became known through MySpace.[28]

Families[edit | edit source]

In some cases, a well-known family is associated with a particular field. For example, the House of Windsor with royalty; the Jackson family with popular music; and the Osbourne, Chaplin, Kardashian, Baldwin, and Barrymore families with television and film.

Restricted access[edit | edit source]

Access to celebrities is strictly controlled by their entourage of staff which includes managers, publicists, agents, personal assistants, and bodyguards. Even journalists find it difficult to access celebrities for interviews. An interview with writer and actor Michael Musto cites:

You have to go through many hoops just to talk to a major celebrity. You have to get past three different sets of publicists: the publicist for the event, the publicist for the movie, and then the celebrity's personal publicist. They all have to approve you.

Celebrities often hire one or more bodyguards (or close protection officer) to protect themselves and their families from threats ranging from the mundane (intrusive paparazzi photographers or autograph-seeking fans) to serious (assault, kidnapping, assassination, or stalking). The bodyguard travels with the celebrity during professional activities (movie shoots or concerts) and personal activities such as recreation and errands.

Celebrities also typically have security staff at their home, to protect them from similar threats.[30][31]

See also[edit | edit source]

References[edit | edit source]

  1. Brockes, Emma (April 17, 2010). "I want to be famous". London: Celebbuzz. Retrieved November 17, 2011.
  2. "Western world kids want to grow up to be famous". Vancouver: News1130. November 28, 2011. Archived from the original on January 1, 2012. Retrieved December 25, 2011.
  3. Miller, Stephen (2004). Ancient Greek Athletics. Yale University Press. ISBN 0-300-11529-6.
  4. "A brief history of celebrity". BBC News. BBC. April 4, 2003. Retrieved June 8, 2014.
  5. Morgan, Dr Simon (2010). A Short History of Celebrity. Princeton University Press.
  6. "Concise History of the British Newspaper in the Nineteenth Century". British Library.
  7. McDonald, Paul (2000). The Star System: Hollywood's Production of Popular Identities. Great Britain: Wallflower. p. 15. ISBN 978-1-903364-02-4.
  8. Cleave, Maureen (1966). "How does a beatle live". London Evening Standard.
  9. Miles 1997, p. 295.
  10. Korda, Michael. Another Life: A Memoir of Other People. Simon & Schuster. ISBN 9780679456599.
  11. Maugh, Thomas H. II (2005-04-13). "Maurice R. Hilleman, 85; Scientist Developed Many Vaccines That Saved Millions of Lives". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 2010-10-20.
  12. Nader R (2005-04-16). "Scientists or celebrities?". Counterpunch. Retrieved 2009-11-13.
  13. E. James Beale. "What Does It Take to Make the NBA? :: Cover Story :: Article :: Philadelphia City Paper". Archives.citypaper.net. Archived from the original on February 25, 2013. Retrieved December 27, 2011.
  14. "Actors". U.S. Bureau of Labor Occupational Outlook Handbook, 2015 Edition. Retrieved May 4, 2016.
  15. "An Actor's Life". Redbirdstudio.com. Archived from the original on January 11, 2012. Retrieved December 12, 2011.
  16. "Career Information – Actors, Producers, and Directors". Collegegrad.com. Retrieved 2011-12-12.
  17. "P. Miller, Formerly Master P, Says: "If You Have a Computer and $500, I Can Show You How to Make Millions"". Marketwire. October 22, 2008. Retrieved 30 July 2013.
  18. Mantell, Ruth (November 1, 2007). "The 10 worst jobs in America: Low pay, no benefits put these workers in a tough spot". MarketWatch. Dow Jones. Retrieved 2008-01-31.
  19. S Hirsch (2007). ""Kim Kardashian Superstar Featuring Ray J" 18 U.S.C. 2257 Compliance Records". Vivid Entertainment LLC. – 18 U.S.C. 2257 Compliance Records.
  20. Vivid Entertainment (February 7, 2007). "Vivid Entertainment Spends $1-Million To Acquire Notorious Video 'Starring' Sexy Socialite Kim Kardashian And Hip Hop Star Ray J". Hip Hop Press. Archived from the original on September 23, 2008. Retrieved October 6, 2008.
  21. "Matt Damon: Sarah Palin Presidency Would Be Like a 'Really Bad Disney Movie'". Fox News. 2008-09-08. Retrieved 2011-12-27.
  22. Young, Kevin (2010-04-20). "Election 2010: Political celebrities – then and now". BBC News. Retrieved 2011-12-27.
  23. Jenkins, Joe (2002). Contemporary moral issues. Examining Religions (4, illustrated ed.). Heinemann. p. 178. ISBN 978-0-435-30309-9.
  24. Jones, Jen (2007). Being Famous. Snap Books: 10 Things You Need to Know about. Capstone Press. p. 20. ISBN 978-1-4296-0126-9.
  25. 25.0 25.1 "Wang Hong: China's online stars making real cash" BBC News. May 1, 2017. Retrieved May 1, 2017.
  26. Murad, Ahmed "The 50 most popular celebs on Twitter", The Sunday Times, February 2, 2009
  27. Peterson, Anne (Spring 2007). "Celebrity juice, not from concentrate: Perez Hilton, gossip blogs, and the new star production". Jump Cut. 49.
  28. Trebay, Guy "She's Famous (and So Can You)", The New York Times, October 28, 2007
  29. en.wikinews.org
  30. International Association of Close Protection Officers
  31. "Celebrity-stalking has common threads". ABC. March 26, 2009. Retrieved November 17, 2011.

Bibliography[edit | edit source]

External links[edit | edit source]

  • Media related to Celebrities at Wikimedia Commons
  • Quotations related to Fame at Wikiquote

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