Sunday, 16 March 2014

Celebrity - Celebrate Good Kinds, Come On!

Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie
Angelina Thingummybob and Brad Whatshisface - you may have heard of them


Noun. Late Middle English.
[Old & modern French célébrité or Latin celebritas, from celeber, -bris frequented, renowned.]

1 obsolete. A solemn ceremony; a celebration;
due observance of ceremonies; pomp, solemnity. LME-L18

2 The condition of being widely known or esteemed;
fame, renown. LME

3 A celebrated person; a (popular) public figure. M19

Of all the words in the English language, it's possible that the word celebrity causes me more tutting, eye-rolling, exasperated ejaculations of "Gah!" and faux-seizure head-floppings than any other. "Why oh why are we so obsessed with such talentless, over-monied, over-sexed and over-surgeried nincompoops?" I shout, waving my fist at the TV or flinging a copy of Hello! across the room. If celebrity really does refer to someone that we celebrate, why do we celebrate such meritless mediocrity?

No - before you get your knickers in a twist, I'm not referring to the above pictured Pitt or Jolie, nor indeed to any of the other current rake of celebs you might be itching to defend. When I get on this particular high horse (and it is a very high horse), I'm thinking of the Paris Hiltons and Jade Goodys of the world, those that fall into the famous-for-being-famous category, even when no one's really sure what made them famous in the first place.

Creepy waxfork model of Jennifer Lopez
Can you guess which celebrity this completely realistic, non-creepy waxwork model is of?
(photo by Cliff)
If we're sticking to hard definitions, however, I really don't have much of a horse to stand on, as the dictionaries are quite clear in stating that celebrity might only refer to someone's fame, regardless of talent or merit. Therefore, if Paris Hilton is as well-known and recognisable as, say, Tom Hanks, then she's as much of a celebrity as he is, even if she does have 1/1000 of his talent (and I'm being generous with that fraction, or cruel, depending on your point of view). And perhaps this is the right way, the better way, the democratic way. Maybe this way fame and celebrity status happen organically, with the people deciding who's worthy of celebration and who isn't; maybe Justin Bieber is just the price we have to pay for this egalitarian approach.

And while celebrity in Latin does have a connection to fame and the state of being famous, it also has earlier roots in religious rites and that which bring throngs together. Again, therefore, how can I argue about who is and who isn't a real celebrity? If we're arguing about that individual, or indeed that individual has throngs of people grubbing over copies of The Enquirer or Hello!, again it seems that their celebritihood is certain. Which is incredibly depressing. And all our fault. Yes, us, the people, the rabble, the throng that makes them celebrities by celebrating them or thronging about them. Gah!

Are you a celebrity? Would you like to be a celebrity?

Like me, do you have strong, irrational, spittle-generating opinions on who should and shouldn't be celebrities?

Do please leave your most starry-eyed comments in the box below.


  1. I think the worst of this kind are the Kardashians. I do watch reality shows like the real housewives of wherever, but every time I tried watching the Kardashians, I felt disgust. I can't understand why people are so fascinated when it come to these women.

    p.s: Ed, why would there be a copy of Hello! In your room? (Assuming that you wouldn't throw other people's magazines across other people's rooms)

    1. Ha! That was purely hypothetical - I have never had a copy of Hello! in my living room, and I never will (but I may have shouted at the TV before).

      I've also never seen the Kardashians, watched a single episode of X-Factor or Big Brother, or been to a Justin Bieber concert.

      And I never will ...

    2. Highly irresponsible ed. What if one of those things ambushed you? You wouldn't know what to do.

    3. This, I suspect off-the-cuff, comment has given me real pause for thought ... because ... you're right ... I wouldn't have the foggiest ...

  2. Of course I don't have a strong, irrational, spittle-generating opinions on who should and shouldn't be celebrities... I'm an emotional coward so that would mean too much effort, more than I can afford ;)...

    The celebrity in itself - the status, the behaviour, etc - doesn't "touch" me. Much, I like to think. Not per status...

    What I have a strong, irrational, spittle-generating opinion is on the divinization of so-called Celebrities... I can't stand to see a Jade compared to Princess Diana or Mother Teresa of Calcutá. So I don't. See. Or acknowledge. But that means a permanent login/logout, because such claims spread through media - and every online nook - like wildfire in August :(

    The same with the opposite - when I see someone being blasted from here to L for doing something and a loved one just receiving a there there you naughty on the same, or worst, offense ;).

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