The quest for fame has always been a central motive for poets and artists; from David’s psalms and Aristophanes plays, the need to transcend has been as evident as the human ego. Celebrity, however, has always been the volatile,unpredictable and emotional consideration thrown into the mix… Blame it on the unknown. How important is celebrity and why is the desire for fame and glamour deemed so necessary? Our infatuation with Jersey Shore’s Snooki and her gang, and what will replace them merits some consideration as social and cultural phenomenon since the nature of such fame reflects much about the society it mirrors.Renown simply doesn’t cut it. In a digital age, of Henry Jenkins, “If it doesn’t spread its dead”, the democratization of fame via media fragmentation has increased the pool of celebrity. Like an expansion draft in sports league, the talent has been diluted, but….. it may not be important, or of value in different ways than we might have originally perceived.
“Celebrities of the twentieth and twenty-first century differ from all previous ones, as the lines between public and private, ordinary and famous, proper and improper have narrowed or even disappeared. While we once honored wealthy industrial elites, politicians,
inventors, and entrepreneurs whom we never hoped to meet, we now have celebrity daughters, celebrity criminals, and celebrity office assistants. As celebrity culture has been democratized and brought within reach of the ordinary citizen, so too the formation of our desires and expectations toward celebrity have changed.” ( Kristine Harmon)
The exploitation of the rich and famous, glamor and the sizzle of the steak, the meat being virtual, is a very lucrative profession and an art form to appeal to what audiences think of themselves, for better, worse or some vague undefined fuzzy zone that floats in and around the general dynamic. Celebrities provide entertainment and diversion but they also satisfy a need for social cohesion, which may be the primary driver. They are characters in a vast morality play,though what is being taught is something of an opened ended question, a content void that is insatiable, or so it seems.
Really? That sounds very selfless for a pop star.
Lady Gaga: It is selfless. But, you know, I am very lucky. I work very hard, but when God opens that door for you — when life opens that door for you, I should say — I think it’s important to be giving, to return the love back. I have a spiritual guide, not a therapist but someone who in my mind is connected with a higher being, and he helps me a lot.
What does he bring to the party?
What I like about him is that he doesn’t speak to me like I am a normal person. He understands that I have an eccentric way of life and personality. And he also understands that I am famous, and I appreciate that. He tells me that I no longer serve my life in the normal way that people serve their life, that I must serve the greater good in my service to the universe. And for me, it’s my fans. I only serve my fans.
Fame, generally, is the immortality of the artist in his or her work; like a Mozart or Shakespeare who are known in and through their work to many generations.Celebrity, well, its a central motive, an immediate fame based squarely on the present, and in a Warhol sense, a democratic allotment or entitlement of a quarter hour of spotlight. The dead poet and artist often achieves a greater fame than the living version who created it whereas the dead celebrity is often an archetype quickly interred and exhumed into a newer version of the product. Certainly, cases like Oscar Wilde and Edgar Allan Poe are more nuanced: in the case of Wilde a celebrity and avant gardist in terms of managing a public persona. In both, their importance was as much a matter of their tragic and symbolic lives where fame may have been an extension of celebrity and vice-versa. But their deals were sealed through talent, in spite of their notoriety.
In the present moment, celebrity, as fleeting and illusory as it appears, does represent, and very powerfully, the – hope, faith, embodiment- of the potential of an open and accessible culture; the American dream where everyone knows someone who “made it”, thus keeping the flame in the Statue of Liberty burning. The expansion of celebrity culture is inextricably linked with market and commercial interests. Clever public spinners like Edward Bernays cleary realized the importance of a celebrity industry as an effective means for the commodification of the self and the inculcation of democratic sentiments no matter how synthetic they were.
How do you think you are doing that with your fans?
Lady Gaga:I think I have changed the way they look at and devour fame. It’s something that tastes a little too sweet but is not so difficult to swallow.
You say you are an acute assessor of fame. You of all people must know, then, that celebrity is fleeting. Doesn’t that scare the bejesus out of you?
Not in the book of Gaga.
In the book of Gaga, fame is in your heart, fame is there to comfort you, to bring you self-confidence and worth whenever you need it. I want my fans to love themselves. It’s almost like I want to hypnotize them so when they hear my music they love themselves instantly.
Don’t you think it’s kind of creepy when you refer to yourself in the third person?
No. Not if you’re an artist, it’s not. I talk about myself in the third person all the time. I don’t live my life in the way someone like you does. I live my life completely serving only my work and my fans. And that way, I have to think about not what is best for my vagina but what is best for my fans and for me artistically.
One chief mechanism in the maintenance of celebrity status is the audience. Over time, fans have become more and more important, even in the organizing of a celebrity’s personal life. Once viewing fandom as delusional or even psychotic, scholarly work
on fans has in the last ten years approached fandom as a serious field of inquiry and claimed that fandom is a complex arena in which to study the relationship between fans, stars, entertainment texts, and the media industries. It is also here that one finds work that casts off the dominant-force theories seen above and returns a degree of power to the individual. Lewis and Harrington and Bielby
posit that fanship is both an activity and the active management of identity, while Ang, Jenkins, and Bacon-Smith look at the institutional and communal power exercised by fans…. ( Harmon )