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A celebrity (sometimes referred to as a celeb in popular culture) is a person who is easily recognized in a society or culture.
Generally speaking, a celebrity is someone who gets media attention and shows an extroverted personality. There is a wide range of ways by which people may become celebrities: from their profession, appearances in the mass media, or even by complete accident or infamy.
Instant celebrity is the term that is used when someone becomes a celebrity in a very short period of time. In some places, someone that somehow achieves a small amount of transient fame, through hype or mass media, is stereotyped as a B-grade celebrity. Often the stereotype extends to someone that falls short of mainstream or persistent fame but seeks to extend or exploit it. In the 21st century, the insatiable public fascination for celebrities and demand for celebrity gossip has seen the rise of the gossip columnist, tabloid, paparazzi and celebrity blogging.
The rise of international celebrities in acting and popular music is due in large part to the massive scope and scale of the media industries, enabling celebrities to be viewed more often and in more places.
Regional and cultural celebrities
President Ronald Reagan and first lady Nancy Reagan welcome pop singer Michael Jackson to the White House.
Each culture and region has its own independent celebrity system, with a hierarchy of popular film, television, and sports stars. Celebrities might be largely unknown abroad.
Some nationwide celebrities might command some attention outside that nation; for example, the singer Lara Fabian is widely known in the French-speaking world, but only had a couple of Billboard hits in the U.S., whereas the francophone Canadian singer Celine Dion is well-known in both the French-speaking world and the U.S.
Subnational entities or regions, or cultural communities (linguistic, ethnic, religious) also have their own celebrity systems, especially in linguistically or culturally distinct regions such as Quebec or Wales.
Regional radio personalities, newscasters, politicians or community leaders may be local or regional celebrities.
A local celebrity is a person well known near where they live but are little known elsewhere.
Another example of celebrity can be merely cultural or unique to a particular diaspora.
English-speaking media commentators and journalists will sometimes refer to celebrities as A-List, B-List, C-List, D-List or Z-List. These informal rankings indicate a placing within the hierarchy. However, due to differing levels of celebrity in different regions, it is difficult to place people within one bracket.
A Nicaraguan actor might be a B-list action film actor in the US, but an A-list star in the Czech Republic. An objective method of placing celebrities from any country into categories from A-List to H-List based on their number of Google hits has been proposed, but this method only works for people with distinctive names, e.g., Jason Mewes, not Kevin Smith.
It’s hard to measure someone’s fame. Even worldwide celebrities might still be unknown to people in isolated countries like North Korea, villagers without access to international news media or people who are simply uninterested in celebrities.
Certain phenomena have however been called[who?] definitive proof of fame, such as appearing on the cover of Time, being spoofed in Mad, having a wax statue in Madame Tussauds, or receiving a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.
Certain people are known even to people unfamiliar with the area in which they excelled. Pablo Picasso’s style and name are known even to people who are not interested in art; likewise many know that Harry Houdini was an illusionist, Bill Gates a businessman, Albert Einstein a scientist; Mozart and Beethoven classical composers; Luciano Pavarotti an opera singer. And thanks to US hegemony, many around the world know the name and face of the current American president.
Some professional activities, being highly paid and exposed and difficult to get into, are likely to confer celebrity status. For example, movie stars and television actors with lead roles on prominently scheduled shows are likely to become celebrities. High-ranking politicians, businessmen, national television reporters, radio personalities, daytime television show hosts, “supermodels”, successful athletes, pornographic actors and chart-topping musicians are also likely to become celebrities.
A few humanitarian leaders such as Mother Teresa have even achieved fame because of their charitable work. Some people have achieved fame online and thus are Internet celebrities.
While some film and theatre directors, producers, fashion designers, artists, authors, trial lawyers, scientists, journalists and dancers have achieved celebrity status, celebrity is not necessary to success in these fields and in general they are less noted than actors of equal professional importance to the business.
Ensuing political career
See also Category: American actor-politicians
Celebrity may offer advantage in attaining elected political offices. This offers a lateral entrance, in contrast to the career ladder approach of starting at minor positions and gradually ascending.
Actors in India and the USA have thus benefited from their celebrity, and so to a lesser degree have sports celebrities. Businessman-celebrity has given less advantage.
Another example of celebrity is a family that has notable ancestors or is known for its wealth. Examples are the Kennedy, Windsor, Osbourne, Chaplin, Barrymore, Hilton, Bush and Jackson families.
In the 1970s, academics began analyzing the phenomenon of celebrity and stardom. According to Sofia Johansson the “canonical texts on stardom” include Daniel Boorstin’s The Image: A Guide to Pseudo-Events in America (1961) and articles by Boorstin (1971), Alberoni (1972), and Dyer (1979) which examined the “representations of stars and on aspects of the Hollywood star system.” Johansson notes “more recent analyses within media and cultural studies (e.g. Gamson 1994; Marshall 1997; Giles 2000; Turner, Marshall and Bonner 2000; Rojek 2001; Turner 2004[vague]) have instead dealt with the idea of a pervasive, contemporary, ‘celebrity culture’.
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