This book offers a critical look at celebrity and celebrities throughout history, emphasizing the development of celebrity as a concept, its relevance to individuals, and the role of the public and celebrities in popular culture.
Celebrities have evolved from being a minor aspect of society to playing a significant role in reflecting and defining our culture—it is an inescapable phenomenon for anyone with access to newspapers, radio, the Internet, or television. We have even made celebrities out of nobodies, including William Hung, the tryout failure on American Idol, and the partying cast of Jersey Shore.
Tabloid magazines, television shows, and Internet sites inundate us with daily updates about movie stars, musicians, athletes, and even those who have achieved celebrity status simply for being rich and extravagant. Disturbingly, it appears that the harder our celebrities fall, the more fascinating they are to us.
As popular culture becomes more influential, it is important to understand both the positive and negative aspects of celebrity. This volume traces the development of the concept of celebrity, discusses some of the problems facing both celebrities and their followers, and points to future trends and developments in our cultural understanding of celebrity. The author's treatment is unflinchingly honest, revealing the importance of the public's role in celebrities' lives and establishing firm criteria for determining who is a celebrity—and who is not.
• Data and documents highlight the depth of the public's involvement with celebrities, including attendance at celebrity performances, online celebrity connections, tables about salaries, and letters to celebrities
• Presents a chronological view of the phenomenon of celebrity in the United States, the expansion of which parallels the development of media in America
• The bibliography provides information for additional reading and research as well as information relating to citations in the text
• A glossary defines terms important to a full understanding of celebrity, for example, "Jung's collective unconscious"
• Provides important historical context for understanding celebrity in the 21st century
• Critically analyzes important problems and issues, such as celebrities' moral behavior, celebrity product endorsement, and celebrity television programs and magazines
• Covers subject matter that is intrinsically interesting to younger readers, sociologists and scholars, and the general population alike
• Written in a clear, entertaining style