Home Pop Culture The Fame Game: How the Noughties Have Changed the Face of Celebrity.

The Fame Game: How the Noughties Have Changed the Face of Celebrity.



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More than anything else, Big Brother introduced a generation to the concept that fame was not something reserved for the elite, but rather a way to catapult oneself into said elite. Suddenly there was a formula that went something like this: Get on Big Brother; do a topless spread in a magazine; get hired as a children’s television presenter; marry someone equally ‘famous’ thus consolidating your mutual celebrity; sell rights to wedding pictures for an extortionate amount; complain that you have no privacy. In certain cases, an internet sex tape, a stint in rehab, a messy divorce, the launch of a perfume, or the adoption of one or more children may serve to accelerate the process.

The number of women who will voluntarily offer up details of their personal lives and sexual escapades in exchange for a quick buck and a little notoriety is another symptom of the fame game. It can’t be that long ago that promiscuity was something that could break a woman’s reputation, rather than make it, and yet this is one of the quickest routes to success: sleep with someone famous, sell your story (ten bonus points if that person is married; twenty if their spouse is also a household name), and have an autobiography published within a month. It seems that the speed of acceleration is the only thing with which to concern yourself if you are on the road to fame, and that no price is too great when it comes to self-respect or how proud your grandmother will be when she sees the headlines.

This blind desire to be famous starts young too. A survey conducted by the Association of Teachers and Lecturers shows that in 2008 a third of schoolgirls chose Paris Hilton as their role model – that’s right, Paris-sex-tape-DUI-Hilton. The Association stated that its members were “appalled at the extent of the decline into the cult of celebrity, which is perverting children’s aspirations and expectations,” and one teacher reported witnessing her pupils emulating their favorite celebrities in the playground, including “disturbingly age-inappropriate acts by young girls in school talent shows.”

But who can blame the kids? We are conditioned to aim for wealth and success. The images with which our children are bombarded convey the unmistakable message that fame equals money, and we all know that money is the ultimate meter of success. You don’t see paramedics and teachers and social workers getting paid ridiculous salaries and idol-worshipped by the population en-masse. It takes upwards of ten years to train as a doctor, whereas it only takes one lucky night to sleep with someone famous enough to make the story worth selling. If you are seen at the right parties, sleep with the right people, get the right number of column inches that now qualifies you as famous, which in turn confirms you as a success – job done. And you don’t even have to go the long way round of climbing up the Hollywood ladder to stardom or gigging in bars to try and get a record deal any more. All you need is a camera pointed at you for long enough to get people’s attention and you’re there. The fewer clothes you have on the better. Anyone can be famous, so why bother studying?

What will be interesting to see will be how long this phenomenon continues. If it is like any other boom then surely it will eventually bust, but what will trigger the shift and who will be the first casualties is less clear. It certainly looks to have a lot more mileage in it, but will that be any comfort to the parents of the kids who ditching school to go barhopping and get spotted falling out of a club with Lindsay Lohan?

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