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Celebrities are products - they should be treated as such


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The important thing about celebrity is that it’s different from notoriety. One might achieve notoriety by making a contribution of note to humanity- as Joseph Bramah and Thomas Twyfford did when they invented the ballcock. Despite their decidedly un-glamorous contribution, they will be remembered in posterity- as they are today- for doing something pretty useful.

They’ll be remembered whether they intended to be or not. Notoriety is, sometimes, unwittingly achieved. In a few cases even posthumously.

Celebrity, unlike notoriety, is not a by-product of doing something noteworthy. Celebrity is something that must be cultivated, and requires individuals, or even teams, of PR experts to effectively maintain it. Most people don’t appreciate just how much work it takes to maintain someone’s celebrity status - let alone achieve it in the first place. It’s no small task, as any PR manager will tell you.

Luckily for the PR managers, it is profitable. If someone is considered a celebrity then their mere presence is a commodity, because of the extreme public interest which can be generated around them. Here’s a case in point: Stan Lee assured his notoriety when he created the Marvel comic universe in the early 1960s. He was not, at that point, a celebrity. Today, however, he earns a living by making paid appearances at comic book events, on television, and in film cameos. He makes a huge amount of money through his public image, as do the professionals who help him to maintain it. This is a trajectory that many celebrities follow; they achieve notoriety by being good at whatever they do, and then cultivate celebrity status in order to profit further.

Being a celebrity, then, almost universally implies the effort to convert a personality into a product, a commodity, made publicly available for personal gain. Press intrusion is simply an unpalatable manifestation of the excitement intentionally generated by the celebrities themselves - in short, it’s an obvious job hazard, and one that a celebrity would be foolish not to expect. Whether or not they deserve that unwanted attention - as some people have suggested - is immaterial; it is an incontrovertible fact that would be impossible to stop, or even noticeably curtail.

Ultimately, the point is this: when you market yourself as a product, you should expect to be treated as such by the people to whom you sell yourself. If they’re voyeurs for demanding more of what you provide, then what does that make you?

Do you agree? Read the other side of the argument here

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