Editorial: Celebrity Culture Essay - Publication: Glitterati Magazine USA Back to Editorials

Please Stalk Me

While the world’s multi millionaire celebrities moan about their tortured lives due to tabloid coverage and privacy invasion, they also benefit by their films, CD’s, fashion lines and work projects obtaining perpetual exposure and publicity. Fuelled by six figure salaries, celebrity publicists continually plant stories while maneuvering their clients through the tabloid mire. So are those shining stars swindling us? blinding us with the hounded line while they are in fact cleverly attuned to every photo op and cover prospect? According to Regis Navarre, head of Los Angeles biggest paparazzi photo agency X17, the stars definitely aren’t as dumb as we are, " Most stars know our photographers and work with them quite willingly. We have personal relationships with some A-list celebs who have even given us their phone numbers."

Charmaine Blake publicist and CEO of LA based celebrity PR specialist Charmaine PR is also a firm believer in the value of high circulation tabloids as a publicity vehicle. "They tell am lot of lies, but they offer great exposure due to their wide readership." "celebrities enjoy being in magazines, Charmaine says. "Despite the fact they complain they cant get away with anything due to constant scrutiny, they will often tip off paparazzi regards their movements to ensure they get coverage." "I’m sure publicists plant stories in the magazine — no doubt there," X17’s Navarre adds. " There are certainly instances of celebrities making an obvious effort to get a point across through our paparazzi photos and video. If a star is thought to be too skinny and there are rumors of an eating disorder, a publicist will put their client in front of the cameras, so to say, eating an ice cream or chowing down on a burger, in this day and age, that’s just savvy PR work." Do the celeb publicists seize the moment? " I think the smarter management and publicists ‘get it’ and are able to use us to their advantage and the ones who fight it, end up with less control over their clients’ image, therefore doing their clients more harm than good. Most of the top management are beginning to wise up to today’s media strategies." Yes any first year media student gets the concept that these celeb infested journals not only provide exceptional toilet reading, but that they are – to labor the point for effect, feeding the beast, perpetuating the fable, fuelling the wheels of industry. Anyone with a half vague knowledge of LA could easily list the legions of Dlisters, work deprived rockpigs or reality TV trash who would donate their living mother’s internal organs for a career rejuvenating mention in any one of the plethora of celeb publications. Any publicity is good publicity, right ?

Now we’ve addressed that worthy point children, lets go a little deeper. So if these formulaic wank journals are merely contrived missives conjured by publicists, do the tabloids really constitute "legitimate," journalism? Is reporting "celebrity culture," a credible exercise, - real journalism? something you can brag about to your mom or your girlfiriend’s pals at dinner parties, or if like me its your mainstay employment are you simply a hapless delusional to be forever maligned as a cheap hack who should "get a real job," say… as a publicist ?

Ask the experts, from those titans of intergrity People, Us or whatever mag to pillars of credibility TMZ or Queen of all media himself Perez Hilton and each will lay claim to be being more credible or legitimate, foisting their "exclusives on an audience hungry for more. It doesn’t matter that they were fed the stories direct from publicists, lifted them from court reporting outlets or directly from assorted newspapers or magazines – even if you doodle on them with such artistry - or does it ? Apparently not, a keen audience is out there and the public’s obsession with celebrity culture shows no sign of waning. According to the New York Times during the last year Circulation of OK! Weekly jumped 54 percent, to more than 809,000 copies an issue, and US Weekly, In Touch Weekly and Life & Style Weekly all rose 5 percent to 10 percent. People magazine, a self proclaimed bible of celebrity journalism due to its apparent diminished focus on celebrities and a less sensational tone than some of the others, still outsells them all, but its circulation dropped about 2 percent, to more than 3.7 million – Even the "real deal," are tapping the surefire popularity of all things celebrity. The Associated Press wire service is hiring 21 writers this year, spread across Los Angeles, New York and London. AP insists its new separate entertainment vehicle is "not about gossip, unnamed sources and innuendo or about ‘peephole’ journalism with AP photographers becoming paparazzi." Instead, the wire service claims it’s just giving its members what they want "in an area of growing interest" because it "makes good business sense." Yes despite a seeming glut, it’s apparently a safe bet if you’re considering starting a celeb publication or online entity. But ultimately, why are we obsessed with the culture of celebrity ? escapism, voyeurism, laziness ? Disseminating the general fascination with celeb culture may be aided by the comments of a few bookish types who’ve spent time studying the subject.

The late-American historian Daniel Boorstin whose background consists of more than a few casual reporting shifts at In Touch confides "celebrities are people who are well known for their well-knownness.The better known they are among the public, the more they "deserve" to be known." Fellow historian Amy Henderson of the Organization Of American Historians who was once turned down an internship at perezhilton.com and has been known to paraphrase Harvey Levin of TMZ sees the concept of celebrity culture as something harking back to the 18th century. According to Henderson, in an early quest for self-definition, "Americans of the Revolutionary republic sought to derive a mythic national character by focusing on military heroes, romantic fictional protagonists, and eminent statesmen who embodied the ideals of virtue and self-reliance. By mid-twentieth century, the pedestal belonged not to politicians or generals, but to baseball players and movie stars. This shift, reflecting in part the vast cultural changes wrought by the communications revolution of the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, and by the rise of immigration and urbanization between 1890 and the 1920s, says a great deal about the nation’s continuing need for self-definition, and about the culture which contributed to this search. " "One way to chronicle this transformation," reveals Henderson " is to consider our changing face of fame, particularly the metamorphosis from traditional "larger-than-life" heroes, to cultural icons—to "celebrity-personalities," as Daniel Boorstin defined them, celebrated not for achievement but simply for "well-knownness." - Nice to see Henderson and Boorstin have remained friends after their much publicized rivalry at Life & Style and ensuing arguments by the water cooler on Wednesday afternoons . Renowned fiction writer Chuck Palahniuk the man behind the hit book/movie Fight believes the current "exaggeration," of modern celebrity culture "is created out of a need for drama and spectacle. In his book Haunted, he describes the pattern of creating a celebrity as a god-like figure, and once this image is created, the desire to destroy it and shame the individual in the most extreme ways possible Palahniuk believes todays tabloid magazines are testament to this theory.

Meanwhile UK academics have also come up with the stunning revelation that the culture of celebrity is generally horseshit, and is in fact harmful. According to The Association of Teachers and Lecturers (ATL). "Teachers fear their pupils' obsessions with footballers, pop stars and actors are affecting their progress in school, and limiting their career aspirations. " Some 60% of teachers said their pupils most aspired to be David Beckham, and more than a third said pupils wanted to be famous for the sake of being famous. Some 32% of the 304 teachers quizzed said their pupils modeled themselves on heiress Paris Hilton. ATL general secretary Mary Bousted said celebrities could raise pupils' aspirations and ambitions for the future. But she warned: "We are deeply concerned that many pupils believe celebrity status is available to everyone. "They do not understand the hard work it takes to achieve such status and do not think it is important to be actively engaged in school work as education is not needed for a celebrity status." Each to their own I guess , though choose your heroes wisely – me Ive wised up to the idol worship thing (I think). Though when it comes to that old chestnut, accurate reporting, and celeb journalism things get a little hazy - so let the reader beware.

As a proud Australian ive opted to be loyal to the intellectual vision of fellow countryman Elle Macpherson who so wisely stated, when asked what she was reading during in interview in the late nineties ""I-only-read-what-I've-written-myself"

Written by Craig Stephens

Back to Editorials