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?