I think it’s really important that Gamson starts by addressing what it ‘used to be’ to be considered a ‘celebrity’ i.e: ‘in the old days, fame was the result of achievement’ (Charles Marowitz). I feel that this is integral to address, as it is startlingly true now-a-days that we ‘worship’ people who aren’t famous for anything more than ‘dating’ someone else who’s mildly famous, or for managing to do diddly-squat in a house that’s under surveillance for umpteen weeks!

Important points gathered from reading:

  • Hype, purchase, manipulation, self-promotion, = central elements in celebrity discourse
  • Shake-up of the movie studio system meant that ‘stars’ were enlisted for TV and not for the ‘silver screen’, which meant ‘less talent’ was required i.e acting skills.
  • The growth of the PR industry in the 1950s meant that they could ‘re-create’ the images of existing ‘stars’ so that they were more appealing to producers.
  • Several components that affected celebrity:

–       TV adapted like magazines had from ‘general interest’ to ‘segmented marketing’

–       News becomes more ‘celebrity-based’, and therefore PR is needed much more. Closer relations between PR and journalism

–       Visual image technology becomes much more advanced

–       Imitation new becomes commonplace.

–       Interactive news reports to evoke ‘feeling’ and ‘emotion’ towards interviewed

–       Outlets for publicity had exploded, especially ‘people’ magazine. More routes in which to publicize a ‘star’. Need outweighs output.

  • Mid mid-60s, adults and children were watching about 4hours of TV a day.
  • Magazines and TV provided ‘more space for more faces’
  • ‘Illusion of intimacy’ created between viewers and celebrities via TV set.

“those who have star quality have it on stage and off – star quality can be spotted and nurtured. But it cannot be created”

“becoming stars through their own blood, sweat, and tears…”

(USA Today).

I thought this was a particularly interesting quote from the reading, as it could not be further from the truth now-a-days.

  • Links between celebrity and selling was not new, starting with celebrity endorsements (freebies).
  • “the bigger the star I am, the more money I’m worth to an advertising company” – starts to get ‘greedy’.
  • TV Guide– ‘how to manufacture a celebrity’
  • ‘the meaningless mechanics of fabricated fame’
  • ‘just a big machine – press a button and it churns out a name’

I think it was interesting that he talks of a study where a number of TV officials were asked what they thought ‘made’ a star, and there answers were all superficial like ‘being able to feel’ etc, and then only a few years later people were giving answers like ‘quality’ didn’t matter, only ‘image’. This is very much the case now-a-days. Even on popular programmes such as ‘Britains Got Talent’, even ‘uglier people’ get mocked before they’ve even done anything, like Susan Boyle for instance. It’s all about how you ‘look’ now.

  • ‘reality-style’ media attempted to she the ‘real’ behind the ‘star’. This was popular for a time.
  • Willing to sacrifice a limb to win an oscar…

In summary of the reading, i felt that he really ‘nailed it on the head’ in terms of what the celebrity culture is like now-a-days, considering that at the ‘birth of the celebrity’ it was literally about ‘celebrating’ the skill of someone who has exceptionally talented in a certain field, whereas now it is almost completely the opposite, especially with the rise of ‘reality TV’ and ‘talent shows’.


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