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Mark Allen
Director , Screenwriter , Composer
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The End of Celebrity

In the sixties, when someone would enter Andy Warhol's Factory in New York, they would be required to sit in front of a camera for fifteen minutes.  One day he said "In the future, everyone will be famous for fifteen minutes" referring to this ritual.   This has often been quoted out of context and the way that it resounds with people I will talk about in my next blog - but this one is about the kind of celebrity that was growing at the time he made this statement... super stars.

There has and will always be people who other people want to find out about.  The super talented, the super pretty, the super scandalous.   However, after the advent of the studio system in movies, there was never before quite the same sort of machine to really exploit that tendency.  Once television began to take hold over audiences, then mass world-wide instant exposure was possible and the celebrity machine was born in a form never before witnessed.

This machine continued to grow and expand throughout the century and an entire entertainment economy was based on it.

However - something changed.   Along with the trend of user generated content, there is now user-generated celebrity.  Along with the ability to expose oneself to a myriad of hyperlinked data comes the opportunity to discover your own fascinations - and your own celebrities.  For years there have been fans of local baseball teams and local bands.   I remember when I was a child I didn't realize that one band was world famous and one band was local famous.  In my realm, they were presented equally.  To this day I will sometimes mention a band to which my brother (who was older) will comment "they wouldn't know who they are, they only played in the bay area."

But that is why fame is relative.  The people who are famous to you are not the people who are famous to my mother.  That said, it's also a different world because today I might find someone like tinkerchel and feel that this person is "famous."   Fame is an emotion, not a statistic.  Fame is an emotion and it is expressed by the fan and not felt by the famous one.

The only way that celebrity works is that enough people want to find out more about this person - so much so that they will pay something or will at the very least give a little time and attention to that person such that there may be some collateral exposure (advertising).

What does it mean that major celebrities movies are getting no attendance at their major Hollywood releases and that fred and niggahigga of youtube are getting millions of viewers eveyr time they put up a video (and by the way - that does equate to earning hundreds of thousands of dollars via collateral exposure (ads) with the partner program on youtube). 

I think it means the world is changing and the celebrity culture is about to end it's supreme reign.  It will continue to exist, but the niche celebrities will thrive.   If you are not famous right now - you have a greater chance to build a fan base than you have ever had in the history of the entertainment industry.   This is a good thing.  If you are famous, you are going to have to work harder to really focus on your core audience and continue to reinvent yourself for them and make yourself interesting and worthy of their attention.

People's attention is hard to keep and they won't listen to the same song forever, so you'll need to keep growing and changing.

However, if you're still trying to gain your audience, you really need to be thinking about what you can offer people that is so different that they will want to tune in again.

It can't just be another so and so.... It can be for a brief moment.  There were the lip synchers on early youtube.... and not just one, but a handful got exposure, but they had no "second act" or "follow up act" - and then came along the really talented singers.... but now there are so many of them.... what can they do to set themselves apart?  Thinking ahead and upping your act by a step is the thing which will make people think... "ahhhh.... interesting.... I want to see where that goes."

I think in another 10 years the movie industry will be much more focused on trying to find interesting productions than attachng major stars.   I think the budgets will go much lower as a result because the distribution machine will be having to explore a lot more projects to find the ones which will click.

There will always be the biggest, hugest, movies and stars.   That will always happen - but it's like the amusement park ride.  These will become the exceptions.

Will "everyone" be famous for 15 minutes?   Maybe not, but the celebrity culture will surely spread out to a very wide crowd.

over 12 years ago 0 likes  3 comments  0 shares
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i think 'relative' fame is the most interesting... you can be mobbed on the street in one part of the world but walk around in total anonymity in another part of the world... it explains why many celebrities end up fleeing their fanbase and setting up residence in some random country...
over 12 years ago

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