Are we falling out of love with fame?

We love famous. Our clandestine community of look-but-don’t-touch hegemonic heroes. Human achievement blown out of all proportion, by pure scale of influence.

Since the original Hollywood stars (Monroe, Dean, Brando) enjoyed the effects of big screens and bigger distribution networks, we have looked up at bright lights and hoped that one day, it might be us.

Slide forward half a century or so and it could be. Reality TV gave everyday Joe’s a chance to feel the warm glow (and wet knickers) of being a Brad or a Jude. Suddenly ‘fame’ became an end in itself – and an achievable one – albeit, all too often, rather short-lived.

Today, every social platform is but a stage for fame. Twitter followers. Facebook fans. Audiences poised to lap up opinions, hilarious cat images, thoughtful fit-for-blog sentiments. QED.

But there’s one difference. The untouchables have come tantalisingly within our reach. Fame can be achieved through sharing and openness. Sometimes our heroes even reply to our tweets (although, despite my best efforts, Ashton Kutcher – @aplusk – is yet to find my incredibly witty offerings reason enough to take me home and make funky shapes all night).

So. The nature of small-looks-up-at-big is changing. Small is becoming, well, medium-sized. And big is being brought down to size. Less David and Goliath, more David and David’s slightly burlier older brother.

Where does that leave fame? Surely it lives and breathes through the lungs of detachment. Separation. Surely once our heroes live alongside us, they can no longer assert such a degree of dominance, aspiration or influence?

Or does it work the other way around?

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3 Comments

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  1. I also wrote a bit (from a slightly different angle) about your point around stars feeling more attainable because of Twitter (http://precisebrandinsight.wordpress.com/2012/03/09/miley-takes-a-chunk-out-of-apple/), as well as the individual’s own desire for fame in social media (http://www.huffingtonpost.co.uk/gareth-price/trending-on-twitter_b_2684677.html) too, which I think speaks to the evolution of fame (and relates to your point around fame feeling less detached than it once was, as we can all, in theory, achieve it at the click of a mouse ourselves).

    This is also a long but fantastic read on the concept of micro fame: http://thenewinquiry.com/essays/hi-haters/

  2. Very interesting reads, thanks Gareth. So what you’re saying is that Twitter et al present a ‘synthesised’ proximity to fame, and that the separation still exists – even if it’s harder to spot?

  3. Yes, I think that’s a pretty good way of summarising it in a sentence!

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