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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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Levels Of Fame
Friday, August 03, 2007

If there’s one thing we are in America its fame obsessed. Heck, we have entire cable channels dedicated to the concept of fame and being famous. Fame, however, has been altered more than a little bit over the years. It used to be a quality bestowed on someone due to their achievements in entertainment and sometimes sports. Now there seems to be a lot of differing versions of fame. Here’s the breakdown.

Legendary Fame – We don’t make these kind of famous people anymore. Legends are people like Elvis, Marilyn Monroe, James Dean and The Beatles. These are people so famous that decades after their deaths (and yes I know not all of The Beatles are dead) they’re still known by people the world over, including those who weren’t even born when said stars were alive. These are the stars that will never fade because the world won’t allow them to.

Basic Fame – Tom Cruise, Samuel L. Jackson, and all the big names we consider to be truly famous now has basic fame. They are instantly recognizable and cause a stir wherever they go. All the big name movie stars, musicians and television stars that have been around for a decade plus have basic fame. In the short, these are the folks that most fit the traditional definition of “famous.”

Pop Fame – Super temporary in status, pop fame usually lasts anywhere from a few weeks to a few years, but once it’s gone the tumble from stardom happens fast and oftentimes isn’t pretty. These are the folks who have a few hit songs, or make one or two movies that are well received and then either fall off the face of the earth, or even worse, fall from grace in public. The key to having a good run with pop fame is recognizing it for what it is and not being mad when it’s over.

Famous for Being Famous – A revelation in the world of fame that’s happened over the past decade is the addition of folks who are famous simply for being famous. Unlike actors and musicians, these are people who have done nothing to earn the “famous” tag, but still find a way to get into the headlines. This kind of fame has been created as a result of numerous TV networks, tabloids and celebrity gossip websites that are always looking for someone to report on. Paris Hilton falls into this category. We can’t put the likes of Lindsay Lohan in here, though, since she technically has a career and therefore has at least earned the rank of pop fame.

YouTube Fame – The advent of YouTube brought us an all new kind of fame, YouTube Fame. Forget fifteen minutes, these folks get about two and half because that’s how long most of their clips on YouTube are and it’s also how quickly they’re forgotten as soon as the next one comes along. YouTube fame usually happens when a blogger finds a particular clip funny, posts it, and within a week it’s everywhere. A week later it’s barely even a memory. The vast majority of YouTube famous people could be your waiter at a Chili’s on your next night out and you wouldn’t recognize them.

Famous for all the Wrong Reasons – Joey Buttafuco, John Wayne Bobbitt and Tonya Harding are all examples of people who have been famous for all the wrong reasons. When the headline is salacious enough the people involved tend to stick around in the public’s collective mind no matter how much these folks would rather be forgotten. This is, unequivocally, the worst kind of fame to possibly have.

Sadly, in 2007 the “famous” people we talk about most seem to fall in the Pop Fame, Famous for Being Famous and Famous for all the Wrong Reasons categories. This leads to an obvious question; why have we become incapable of creating legendary stars like we used to? Any ideas?

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