Sunday, 21 November 2010

Is the current celebrity culture changing society?

The part of PR that interests me the most is certainly celebrity PR. In today’s society celebrity, salacious gossip is everywhere you go. Everyone seems to be fascinated as to: what/who celebrities are wearing, who they are dating, their current weight, what they look like without makeup and who they currently hate.

So what is our fascination with these celebs?...are we trying to make them seem less two-dimentional? Are we purely interested in seeing how the other half live? Are we interested in the successes of the Celebrities or focus more on the scandals? These are questions I have asked myself on many occasions.

I have asked family and friends how they feel about ‘our new celebrity culture’ and what fascinates them so greatly about it and found that many people are particularly interested in the people they ‘love to hate’. For example Ashley Cole and Gordon Ramsey have been voted the most hated celebrities in the UK due to both of their ‘love rat’ reputations, yet they still love to read articles about them. It was also true of these people that I asked, that scandalous and tragic articles and headlines attracted their attention more than a positive read. Does it make them more real? Or does it just make us feel better about our own lives?

Of interest to the public or interesting to the public

One of the female celebrities with the most media coverage in the world is Britney Spears. Over the past couple of years Ms. Spears has been subject to some very controversial and shocking media coverage. For instance, in 2003 Britney kissed Madonna on stage at the MTV music video of the year awards, then in 2007 after a strenuous divorce to Kevin Federline, Britney: shaved her head, drove over some photographers, almost dropped her child, smashed a paparazzi car with an umbrella and was in and out of rehab constantly. Are these scandalous articles of interest to the public or just interesting to the public? JUST BLOODY INTERESTING…well unless you are paparazzi, then it might be in your interest!

Yet, to truly know what is of public interest and not just interesting to the public, it has to be defined. This is well portrayed in a model by Peter and Olsen:

To put it into context, the case of Britney Spears’ breakdown can be used as an example. If we are to bear the aggregate view in mind, then the public did need to know what was going on in her life due to over-whelming interest. Plus, the emergent view would also support that notion as many people were talking about the scandals, thus meaning it was of public interest.

The Britney scandals are very much an example of paternalism as the media were trying to drive the public interest agenda. For instance, the writers of the articles may have found other stories more interesting, yet they felt the need to print the Britney headlines, as they know this would maximise sales.

There are more pressing issues other than celebrity affairs which I do dwell on. An issue that particularly interests me is the swine flu epidemic. Did the public trust what the PR Practitioners were saying? Were the public told the full story? Did it just create moral panic? How much did they have to tell the public? What was essential and what has been left out?


  1. Think the drive with celebrities is that they create drama for us, and we blantantly love the drama, hence why "The only way is essex" and "The Hills" were so popular. Not to mention the fact that they are rich and we want there laid back...(the only drama in my life is my boyfriend talking to another girl)! I like the swine flu bit though, thats got me researching!!! :)

  2. I used to really like the hills but then I found out that it is basically all scripted and the jobs that they have in fashion etc.. aren't real apart from one of the girls. However the only way is Essex does seem a little more true to life but even the producers write at the beginning of the show that... some of the scenes have been created for entertainment purposes. So why are we so interested in fake drama? it isn't even real and we still love it?

  3. I can't help feeling really detached from celebrity stories as read in the newspapers and magazines. I've never really understood the fascination with them.

    Why do people in general want to know so much about someone who is just doing their job, even if it happens to be a job that touches lots of peoples lives? Most people don't even know that much about their own friends lives anymore, except what each person chooses to project of themselves on Facebook.

    Personally I always have way more respect for those people who have achieved celebrity status and managed to stay out of the tabloids. What interests me is how they've gone about achieving their success and the interesting paths they have taken to get them there. I went to see a talk by Fred Butler, who made Lady Gaga's telephone hat for the music video and it was so inspiring to hear how she'd worked her way up the ladder from one job to the next. I could really appreciate that kind of information. I did not have any desire whatsoever to hear about who she was dating, her sexual preference, whether she takes drugs or anything else about her personal life.

    Is that unusual? Oh well, I am a bit of a strange one!

  4. I dont find that unusual..some people dont have time to be wasting finding out information about who is dating whom.. I however do love to find out this kind of pointless gossip but I am too..more attracted to the stories about how these celebrities came to achieve their success. I have read Sir Allen Sugars book, the dragons den book, Richard Bransons book and Peter Jones book lol perhaps going a little over the top ha. The talk by Fred Butler sounds like the kind of thing I would love. Don't suppose you know who made Nicki Minaj's hat in the check it out video? its been annoying me that I don't know every time I watch it.

  5. I did quite like "The only way is essex" mainly because of three characters that are best friends were entertaining. I reckon I just like drama series in general, and I suppose its the same for quite a few people! Because I still watch soaps like hollyoaks and eastenders, and because I dont want to cause drama I turn to the TV where you get involved because they do act out real life situations so I turn ur brain off and just pretent its real.