So You Want to be Famous?

Modern celebrities trade privacy for spotlight

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Augie Hawk, Editorials Editor

When we ask our parents about the stars of their era, we’re likely to hear names like Paul Newman and Cindy Crawford or bands like The Rolling Stones and ABBA. If we were to ask them about those stars’ private lives, we would get the basics—marriages and life catastrophes. If you ask a teenager today, however, what lipstick Kim Kardashian uses or what car Drake drives, you’ll get the answer in seconds from background knowledge or a quick search.

That distinction illustrates the clear difference between old and new fame. When our parents were children and teens (let’s say in the 70s, for the sake of this article), stars received little attention outside of their work as actors, singers, or models. The intimate details of their private lives were rarely exposed.

No one knew or cared what Sean Connery ate for breakfast or who Clint Eastwood took out on a date. It was an invasion of privacy to find out, in most cases, especially since it wasn’t at our fingertips with a quick swipe or channel change.

But with the rise of Instagram and TikTok, our generation has flipped those practices on their head. Now, regardless of talent or even genuine appeal, almost anyone can get famous.

That’s a broad claim, yes, but let’s take a moment to dive into the new fame of today. This new fame, birthed from the rise of social media, runs on exposure of personal lives and secrets, persistent posting, and sometimes small amounts of talent. TikToker Charli D’Amelio, for example, was just an amateur dancer posting videos two years ago and now runs a multi- million-dollar brand that includes her parents and sister. Her fanbase, which extends well past 100 million people, loyally awaits her every move. The Rolling what?

D’Amelio’s success can only be attributed to the power of social media. By giving followers constant access to her life, D’Amelio has connected to a continuously growing audience without proving her talents.

Many celebrities now use transparency to make up for their lack of talent. The Kardashians, for instance, are really just theatrical, plastic humans with little substance, yet they make a killing selling their glitzy lives to the public. Charli D’Amelio is doing the same: her family released a reality TV show this September, which essentially trades on their struggles and personal drama from the past year.

That’s not to say this new fame is always a smooth ride for celebrities. Modern stars, especially those on social media or reality television, often become caricatures of themselves while trying to produce content everyone wants to see. Attractiveness, humor, and even ridiculousness are all rewarded. As time passes, these celebrities share more and more of their lives to stay relevant. As they reduce their privacy, a conscious push toward repetitive personas blends the creative distinctions between different stars and dilutes any real creativity.

It’s easy to get caught up in the glamor of new fame, but let’s remember its predecessor: a time when we didn’t know what actor wore what shoes or what enormous amount they paid for something silly. The generated fame we experience today is bought or stumbled upon but rarely earned through demonstrated ability.

Try, at least for a little while, to shift away from the scrutiny of today’s stars. Their private lives aren’t worth our time. Let’s see if we can value artists for their talent—not home drama or hip movements— once again.