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Name: Adam Bernard
Home: Fairfield, Connecticut, United States
About Me: Entertainment journalist with 15+ years of experience. Supporter of indie music. Lover of day baseball, fringe movies, & chicken shawarma. Part time ninja. Nerdy, but awesome.
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Creating and Destroying Celebrity
Wednesday, March 28, 2007

As much as I love sports I’d have to be blind to not see America’s true favorite pastime. It’s on every channel, on numerous websites, and on page six of every tabloid-style newspaper. America loves celebrity, and more to the point they love creating celebrities and tearing those exact same celebrities down. Today I'm taking a look at three examples of this national hobby in the forms of Britney Spears, Paris Hilton and Kim Kardashian.

Britney Spears hit the world of celebrity as a teen singer in the late 90’s. She was immediately set up for her downfall when, for no real reason whatsoever, she revealed she was a virgin. She hadn’t even reached the peak of her fame yet and many folks had already penciled in the start of her descent. You can’t play the virgin-whore role for very long, people will eventually catch on that you’re either one or the other. The public played along for a while, but three hit albums into her career things hit a snag, that penciled in downfall came to life and it was, predictably, the start of her unraveling. First there was the Vegas marriage that kept her in the headlines, then came K-Fed, who’s coming out smelling like roses from all this, and then the weight gain and the stints in rehab, all of which were rigorously documented, commented on, and acted upon as if it were real news. That’s the thing about created celebrity, if the people create you, those same people can, and will, destroy you, and since you were created publicly your downfall becomes public, as well. In the 2007 version of “celebrity” there is no comeback hope for Britney, because once we’ve created our next celeb du jour news like this about her won’t even merit a blip on the E! News radar. Celebrity created – celebrity destroyed.

While Britney Spears burst onto the scene as a singer Paris Hilton’s arrival was more of a true testament to America’s ability to create something out of nothing. Paris Hilton has rich parents, that’s the extent of her reason for being in the limelight and it shows how starved we have become as a nation for celebrity. She did nothing, and I mean nothing, to deserve any kind of limelight but between her rampant partying and our lust for celebrity creation we put her there. She buzzed along nicely in the background until one day a sex tape came out. Back in the day a sex tape would be cause for embarrassment and a step to the side of the limelight, but the public, and Paris, ate it up. It launched her from mildly famous to uber famous in a matter of seconds. Tides turn quickly, however. People are getting bored with Paris, and who could blame them, she still does nothing. Content with just being a pretty face she continues to party and show up at events, but that’s about it. Nothing of substance. This is why it sickened me the first time I heard a teenage girl on MTV refer to Paris Hilton as their hero. Have we really fallen that far as a society? The good news is these celebrities are the kind that are very easy to take down. Media outlets are already putting together Paris Hilton bans in their newsrooms knowing that she is truly one of those people where if we stop looking she stops existing. Celebrity created – celebrity on the way to being destroyed.

One of Paris Hilton’s buddies is Kim Kardashian, who happens to be the daughter of deceased former OJ Simpson lawyer Robert Kardashian. Kim hasn’t played the fame game quite as well as her buddy Paris. In fact, the main reason Kim’s name has popped up on entertainment programs has been due to her relationship with the hotel heiress. There have been attempts to link her romantically with actual famous people, but for the most part those have failed to register Kim as even the tiniest of stars in the entertainment world’s massive, ever glowing, nightscape. Then last week, much like Paris’s story, a sex tape came out, but unlike Paris’ sex tape Kim’s was raunchier and involved a quasi-celeb, R&B singer Brandy’s brother, Ray-J. The press from this has already vaulted Kardashian to household name status in the entertainment community (no word on whether or not it will do the same for Ray-J). When a new star is “born,” or in this case created, another must be destroyed. The real irony in Kardashian’s story is that celeb may be her own friend, Paris Hilton. Kim Kardashian - famous father, rich girl, famous friend, sex tape - celeb created.

There are a few things we can glean from all this. One, we no longer have long lasting celebrities like we used to. In the 50’s and 60’s we had the likes of Marilyn Monroe, Elvis, James Dean and The Beatles. No one today measures up to those folks, not even close. Our standards for celebrity are nowhere near as high as they used to be. Second, celebs today, if they’re smart enough to see how they were created, should take note of how quickly similar build-ups fade out. You should be able to see your own timetable. For instance, when a friend and I were talking about going out for VJ auditions we both noted how it would be a two to three year gig at best and that if we got the job we’d need to utilize the status we’d have as soon as possible (FYI - we didn’t get the jobs). Celebrities need to start looking at their own fame the same way. Carson Daly and Ryan Seacrest have and it’s positioned them nicely for longevity. It’s no longer “this is a career,” in 2007 it’s “this is a window of opportunity.” Windows close. Stars fade. And in our ADD riddled nation we’ll move on, quickly. In short, it isn’t all about the fame, it’s all about what you do with it.


posted by Adam Bernard @ 7:58 AM  
  • At 10:12 AM, Blogger Lyndsey Belle said…

    Absolutely brilliantly said! No doubt inspired by our mutally fave show, Dirt, but I appreciate each sentiment!

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