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Celebrity in the 21st century imagination

CASHMORE, Ellis (2011) Celebrity in the 21st century imagination. Cultural and Social History, 8 (3). pp. 405-413. ISSN 14780038

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Abstract or description

Celebrity culture, as we know it, was landscaped less than twenty years ago. Célébrité the word may date back to fourteenth century France, and its near-synonym fame, or fama, has an etymology traceable to the Bronze Age (4th and early 3rd millennia BCE). But today the meaning of celebrity is unique and specific. It describes a culture, a characteristic set of attitudes and behaviour that absorbs as well as surrounds us. Emotion seems to supplant intellect; make-believe intimacies are pushed to the point where they become, after a fashion, actual. People’s imaginations instigate action from fantasized realities. It is a culture in which people, perplexingly, are not the foci of consumers’ attentions.It is possible to see today’s media as a lineal descendant of earlier forms, dating back to the eighteenth century. But is it instructive? Surely, modern media is more encompassing, more invasive, more rapid, more compelling and less escapable than ever. One does not have to be a devotee of McLuhan to accept that it is the characteristics of a medium not the information it disseminates that influence both our thoughts and the behaviour of its users. As the media’s scope, scale and character have changed, so have we. Celebrity and the culture it enkindles originate from several independent sources, none with roots deeper than the late twentieth century.

Item Type: Article
Subjects: L300 Sociology
Faculty: Faculty of Health Sciences > Psychology, Sport and Exercise
Depositing User: Ellis CASHMORE
Date Deposited: 21 Apr 2013 08:03
Last Modified: 01 Oct 2013 08:49
URI: http://eprints.staffs.ac.uk/id/eprint/874

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