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Fifteen Minutes: The Cultural Significance of Fame Com 325/625 Ron Bishop, Ph.D.

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1 Fifteen Minutes: The Cultural Significance of Fame Com 325/625 Ron Bishop, Ph.D.

2 Was Warhol Right? “ In the future, everyone will be world famous for 15 minutes.” “ In the future, everyone will be world famous for 15 minutes.” - Andy Warhol, 1988

3 The Octo-Mom

4 The Duggars

5 Lindsay Lohan

6 The Situation and Snooki

7 The Kardashians

8 And of course, Honey Boo-Boo…

9 I want to live forever… Some say we spend too much time on our computers – we don’t get to know our neighbors. Some say we spend too much time on our computers – we don’t get to know our neighbors. We keep to ourselves – to the point that sometimes we actually create our own, sometimes media-driven, worlds. We keep to ourselves – to the point that sometimes we actually create our own, sometimes media-driven, worlds. We’re a bit more INSULAR, yet PRESENTATION and being public means more to us than interacting. We’re a bit more INSULAR, yet PRESENTATION and being public means more to us than interacting. Fewer “common spaces” or “public spaces” where we all hang out, as opposed to our media “niches.” Fewer “common spaces” or “public spaces” where we all hang out, as opposed to our media “niches.” We have smaller circles of close confidantes – 3 or 4, down from 5 or 6. We have smaller circles of close confidantes – 3 or 4, down from 5 or 6.

10 Would you do this?

11 Or this…?

12 I want to live forever… We just don’t hang out anymore, drop in on neighbors, play pick-up games – no “schmoozing” of the non-gaining an advantage in business kind. We just don’t hang out anymore, drop in on neighbors, play pick-up games – no “schmoozing” of the non-gaining an advantage in business kind. Maybe we’re just hopeless hams… Maybe we’re just hopeless hams… Maybe we truly live in a “confessional culture”… Maybe we truly live in a “confessional culture”… Maybe it’s just a defense mechanism… Maybe it’s just a defense mechanism…

13 A soundtrack to your life? Saturday Night Fever, maybe? Saturday Night Fever, maybe? Saturday Night Fever Saturday Night Fever

14 What we do know… Possible to achieve fame for doing nothing – or doing something strange, or badly, or oddly. Possible to achieve fame for doing nothing – or doing something strange, or badly, or oddly. Fame may be more fleeting than ever. Fame may be more fleeting than ever. Can become famous just for being famous. Can become famous just for being famous. …or for flashing your knowledge of the famous. …or for flashing your knowledge of the famous. …or for flashing your access to the famous. …or for flashing your access to the famous. …or for flashing your knowledge of how to become famous or teach the rest of us to get close to the famous. …or for flashing your knowledge of how to become famous or teach the rest of us to get close to the famous.

15 Some key plotlines… Their whims must be indulged. Their whims must be indulged. They make strange requests for ocelot milk and octagonal jelly beans when they go on tour. They make strange requests for ocelot milk and octagonal jelly beans when they go on tour. They overwork their obsequious underlings. They overwork their obsequious underlings. They do charity work, but only at gunpoint, and only for the publicity. They do charity work, but only at gunpoint, and only for the publicity. They’re petty, crabby, petulant, and often disregard social conventions. They’re petty, crabby, petulant, and often disregard social conventions. If they slip up (drugs, booze, sex), they inevitably find God – and get their story on “Behind the Music.” If they slip up (drugs, booze, sex), they inevitably find God – and get their story on “Behind the Music.” They absolutely hate doing publicity for their work – but there’s Madonna and her fake English accent again, on the “Today Show” hawking a CD. They absolutely hate doing publicity for their work – but there’s Madonna and her fake English accent again, on the “Today Show” hawking a CD.

16 I give you…Grover Whalen!

17 Some questions to consider… Why does everyone seem to want fame so badly? Why does everyone seem to want fame so badly? Why does our society place such a high value on it? Why does our society place such a high value on it? Why do the media keep telling us that society places such a high value on it? Why do the media keep telling us that society places such a high value on it?

18 Some definitions to consider… Fame: the state or quality of being widely honored or acclaimed. A favorable public reputation. Fame: the state or quality of being widely honored or acclaimed. A favorable public reputation. Notoriety: The condition of being notorious. Being known for an unfavorable act or quality. Notoriety: The condition of being notorious. Being known for an unfavorable act or quality. Renown: Widely known or esteemed. Renown: Widely known or esteemed. Celebrity: A well known person. From the Middle English, celebrite; or the French and Latin, celebritas. Celebrity: A well known person. From the Middle English, celebrite; or the French and Latin, celebritas.

19 Has to be agreed upon…

20 And now, some more questions… How precisely do we use these words today? How precisely do we use these words today? Do we overuse them? Do we overuse them? Are they interchangeable? Are they interchangeable?

21 Back to that preliminary list… It’s a vicarious thrill. It’s a vicarious thrill. We’re a quick fix society. We’re a quick fix society. We love achievement – in any form. We love achievement – in any form. Our time on the planet is limited. Our time on the planet is limited. We’re really into “whatever it takes.” We’re really into “whatever it takes.”

22 That preliminary list… We’re nosy. We’re nosy. We do more things in public than ever before. We do more things in public than ever before. We feel more entitled than ever before – part of the “Guitar Hero” culture, as Bill Maher claims. We want the fame – we don’t want to learn the chords. We feel more entitled than ever before – part of the “Guitar Hero” culture, as Bill Maher claims. We want the fame – we don’t want to learn the chords. Good enough and having enough isn’t enough, or so we’ve been taught. Good enough and having enough isn’t enough, or so we’ve been taught. It’s an escape. We like zoning out (but we all do it together). It’s an escape. We like zoning out (but we all do it together). It’s in your face. We’re good at that. It’s in your face. We’re good at that.

23 Maplewood, NJ

24 My Hometown

25 The Spheres of Fame Family/Peers Family/Peers Community Community Professional Professional Local/Regional Local/Regional National National International International

26 Other Strands to Consider… Legacies NOW! Legacies NOW! Are we self-absorbed? Are we self-absorbed? Does Donna Karan wear her own designs? Does Donna Karan wear her own designs? The “Barber Theory.” The “Barber Theory.” We had to be taught accomplishment is cool, but what does that do to the rest of us? We had to be taught accomplishment is cool, but what does that do to the rest of us? This always being connected and available has its downside. This always being connected and available has its downside. Life “by checklist.” Life “by checklist.” Whatever happened to leaving a “soft footprint?” Whatever happened to leaving a “soft footprint?”

27 Consider, Continued… Preoccupied with images, observation, dissection, deconstruction. Preoccupied with images, observation, dissection, deconstruction. We watch monitors; we are monitored, become our own monitors. We watch monitors; we are monitored, become our own monitors. Whither the unscripted moment – the “chance to do something totally unique?” (Garden State) Whither the unscripted moment – the “chance to do something totally unique?” (Garden State) All this surveillance causes distinction between the observer and the observed to go away. All this surveillance causes distinction between the observer and the observed to go away. We may have forgotten how to entertain ourselves. We may have forgotten how to entertain ourselves.

28 So there’s tension between… Our public and private lives. Our public and private lives. Our interior and exterior selves. Our interior and exterior selves. Egalitarian and aristocratic impulses/interests. Egalitarian and aristocratic impulses/interests.

29 Tricks and Gestures Fame requires detachment from reality. Fame requires detachment from reality. What happens if you don’t have a “style?” What happens if you don’t have a “style?” Used to reach each other with ideas – now we do it with fame. Used to reach each other with ideas – now we do it with fame. We’re hopeless copiers. We’re hopeless copiers. Who are the sources for your “personality collage?” Who are the sources for your “personality collage?”

30 Tricks and Gestures

31 Long ago, the camera was thought to be an intrusion. Long ago, the camera was thought to be an intrusion. Are there “people who refuse to be collected?” Are there “people who refuse to be collected?” Is it a good thing that we tell each other you can be anything? Is it a good thing that we tell each other you can be anything? It’s not a club anymore. It’s not a club anymore.

32 Tricks and Gestures A gap developed between what a person is to society and is to him or herself. A gap developed between what a person is to society and is to him or herself. But it’s only the appearance of individuality. But it’s only the appearance of individuality. A contract of sorts between public and the fame seeker. A contract of sorts between public and the fame seeker. Fame not only is desired, it impacts our values. Fame not only is desired, it impacts our values. Can’t just say “famous for being famous.” Can’t just say “famous for being famous.”

33 Some Painless History During the Industrial Revolution… During the Industrial Revolution… Urban populations grow. Urban populations grow. More folks become literate. More folks become literate. Printing and publishing become cheaper. Printing and publishing become cheaper. More folks vote. More folks vote. The idea of monarchy is challenged/rejected. The idea of monarchy is challenged/rejected. And then there’s the GLUT theory… And then there’s the GLUT theory…

34 The Frenzy of Renown By the 18 th Century, acting and self-promotion abounded. By the 18 th Century, acting and self-promotion abounded. We found it easier to “author ourselves.” We found it easier to “author ourselves.” The master? Ben Franklin. The master? Ben Franklin.

35 The Frenzy of Renown Preoccupation with self-definition. Preoccupation with self-definition. The famous are always reinterpreted. The famous are always reinterpreted. They’re vehicles of cultural memory. They’re vehicles of cultural memory. You have to be famous in terms the rest of us can understand. You have to be famous in terms the rest of us can understand.

36 The Frenzy of Renown Charles Lindbergh: A hero without tarnish. Charles Lindbergh: A hero without tarnish. Turned flying into a symbolic aspiration. Turned flying into a symbolic aspiration. Social mobility turned into social transcendence. Social mobility turned into social transcendence. It was the purity of his action! It was the purity of his action! Let us know our aspirations had substance! Let us know our aspirations had substance! Why do we get so pissed when celebs talk politics? Why do we get so pissed when celebs talk politics?

37 The Frenzy of Renown Then there’s Hemingway… Then there’s Hemingway… Why are we so damned needy? Why are we so damned needy? “I love to have people see us, but I don’t want to see anybody” – Ernest Hemingway. “I love to have people see us, but I don’t want to see anybody” – Ernest Hemingway. “To acknowledge the audience erodes the purity of the heroic gesture and turns it into mere theater” – Leo Braudy. “To acknowledge the audience erodes the purity of the heroic gesture and turns it into mere theater” – Leo Braudy. By now, fame was a type of “sainthood.” By now, fame was a type of “sainthood.”

38 The Frenzy of Renown

39 Guy Debord Weighs In… Society presents itself to us “as an immense accumulation of spectacle.” Society presents itself to us “as an immense accumulation of spectacle.” All “human life, which is to say all social life” is “mere appearance.” All “human life, which is to say all social life” is “mere appearance.” Reality “suffers the material assaults of the spectacle’s mechanisms of contemplation.” Reality “suffers the material assaults of the spectacle’s mechanisms of contemplation.”

40 Debord Weighs In…

41 Images become a kind of currency – they mediate our relationships. Images become a kind of currency – they mediate our relationships. A celebration of our participation in a world of consumerism. A celebration of our participation in a world of consumerism. We celebrate everything – there is no scale in our activity. We celebrate everything – there is no scale in our activity. Spectacle is our “chief product” – and we’re supposed to spend our down time thinking how to make more. Spectacle is our “chief product” – and we’re supposed to spend our down time thinking how to make more. Can you remember what life was like on the outside? Can you remember what life was like on the outside?

42 The Frenzy of Renown From the ending of The Truman Show (1998): From the ending of The Truman Show (1998): From the ending of The Truman Show (1998): From the ending of The Truman Show (1998):

43 Fame Gets a Jump-Start The steam-powered press (early 1800s). The steam-powered press (early 1800s). The telegraph (1840s). The telegraph (1840s). The rotary press (1840s). The rotary press (1840s). The Penny Press (1830s). The Penny Press (1830s). Founding of wire services (AP – 1848). Founding of wire services (AP – 1848). Birth of reporting as a profession. Birth of reporting as a profession. Rising popularity of photography. Rising popularity of photography.

44 Fame Gets a Jump-Start Time and space had been conquered! Time and space had been conquered! Information could be moved around – and context-free! Information could be moved around – and context-free! Information became a commodity. Information became a commodity. Knowing about people we didn’t know became important to us – not to mention a lucrative business. Knowing about people we didn’t know became important to us – not to mention a lucrative business. Names began to make news. Names began to make news.

45 Fame Gets a Jump-Start

46 “Form is henceforth divorced from matter,” said Oliver Wendell Holmes in “Form is henceforth divorced from matter,” said Oliver Wendell Holmes in It was now easier to disseminate someone’s face than someone’s ideas. It was now easier to disseminate someone’s face than someone’s ideas.

47 Fame Gets a Jump-Start

48 P. T. Barnum brings publicist and publicity into the dialogue. P. T. Barnum brings publicist and publicity into the dialogue. Source of the adage, “Any publicity is good publicity.” Source of the adage, “Any publicity is good publicity.” Not just promoting the performers; he was performing the promotion. Not just promoting the performers; he was performing the promotion. Famous for HOW he created fame. Famous for HOW he created fame.

49 Fame Gets a Jump-Start

50 Great delight in observing the process, examining truth as a kind of intellectual exercise. Great delight in observing the process, examining truth as a kind of intellectual exercise. We end up talking more about HOW than WHY. We end up talking more about HOW than WHY. Pretty scattered effort until birth of PR and the film industry in early 20 th Century. Pretty scattered effort until birth of PR and the film industry in early 20 th Century. The “public” as a concept is recognized; had been ignored by business. The “public” as a concept is recognized; had been ignored by business.

51 Fame Gets a Jump-Start

52

53 Consumer culture comes into being. Consumer culture comes into being. We’re incredibly productive, our work week has shrunk, and we’re spending more money on stuff. We’re incredibly productive, our work week has shrunk, and we’re spending more money on stuff. Urban areas give us ready-made centralized markets. Urban areas give us ready-made centralized markets. Celebrity is becoming systematized. Celebrity is becoming systematized. We’re leisure-ing more. We’re leisure-ing more.

54 Fame Gets a Jump-Start

55

56 Movies cost a lot to produce; required a larger promotional effort. Movies cost a lot to produce; required a larger promotional effort. They needed product differentiation…and the Star System is born! They needed product differentiation…and the Star System is born! We wanted to know about them – we judged movies by who was in them. We wanted to know about them – we judged movies by who was in them. Knowledge about actors became a tool of promotion. Knowledge about actors became a tool of promotion.

57 The Pseudo-Event Boorstin claims we believed there were only so many interesting events in the world. Boorstin claims we believed there were only so many interesting events in the world. Eventually came to demand more of the world than it could give. Eventually came to demand more of the world than it could give. Everything, we think, is relevant. Everything, we think, is relevant.

58 The Pseudo-Event Is not spontaneous. Is not spontaneous. Is created for the purpose of being covered. Is created for the purpose of being covered. Is only ambiguously related to the underlying reality of the situation. Is only ambiguously related to the underlying reality of the situation. Is intended to be a self-fulfilling prophecy. Is intended to be a self-fulfilling prophecy.

59 The “Stuffed Chairs” Shot

60 The Oscar Mayer Wienermobile

61 MLB’s Home Run Derby

62 “Football 101” Courses

63 20 th Anniversary of “Witness”

64 Wasn’t Truth Stranger Than Fiction? It’s a writer’s job to explain reality. It’s a writer’s job to explain reality. Culture offers up some pretty interesting folks… Culture offers up some pretty interesting folks… So we shouldn’t be troubled when media products are so often “ripped from the headlines?” So we shouldn’t be troubled when media products are so often “ripped from the headlines?” BUT…the fabricated and theatrical may be driving out the natural and spontaneous. BUT…the fabricated and theatrical may be driving out the natural and spontaneous. We’ve made our illlusions so vivid, so valid, that we can actually live in them. We’ve made our illlusions so vivid, so valid, that we can actually live in them.

65 Wasn’t Truth Stranger Than Fiction? Like Truman, we are performers in and audiences for our own show. Like Truman, we are performers in and audiences for our own show. And we tell ourselves it’s better than the fictional stuff the media can dish out.. And we tell ourselves it’s better than the fictional stuff the media can dish out.. Not imitating art – but becoming art. Not imitating art – but becoming art. Every aspect of life turned into theater – even death. Every aspect of life turned into theater – even death.

66 Wasn’t Truth Stranger Than Fiction? Constantly entertaining = constantly distracted. Constantly entertaining = constantly distracted. Escaped from life into “life.” Escaped from life into “life.” The catalyst? Celebrity. It’s a function of perception, not accomplishment. The catalyst? Celebrity. It’s a function of perception, not accomplishment. Evaluate folks more often on the basis of their ability to gain notoriety. Evaluate folks more often on the basis of their ability to gain notoriety. And water down the good stuff… And water down the good stuff…

67 Wasn’t Truth Stranger Than Fiction? The birth of “billing.” The birth of “billing.” A combination of empathy and control. A combination of empathy and control. Personality overtakes performer. Personality overtakes performer. Publicity is our gift to the performer. Publicity is our gift to the performer. Media are in servitude to celebrity. Media are in servitude to celebrity.

68 The Presentation of Self Goffman’s was a dramaturgical approach. Goffman’s was a dramaturgical approach. Interaction is a performance, shaped by environment and audience. Interaction is a performance, shaped by environment and audience. You want to seem competent, so you create impressions that help you realize your goals. You want to seem competent, so you create impressions that help you realize your goals. Your goal as an “actor” is to at least shape the actions of others so they’ll act the way you want them to. Your goal as an “actor” is to at least shape the actions of others so they’ll act the way you want them to.

69 The Presentation of Self Sometimes it’s calculated, sometimes you don’t realize it’s calculated, sometimes your role dictates how you act. Sometimes it’s calculated, sometimes you don’t realize it’s calculated, sometimes your role dictates how you act. Most folks know you’re working to be viewed favorably, so they check your validity… Most folks know you’re working to be viewed favorably, so they check your validity… Turns into a game of concealment, discovery, false revelations, rediscovery… Turns into a game of concealment, discovery, false revelations, rediscovery… Not really after consensus. Not really after consensus.

70 The Presentation of Self Hate to have those impressions pierced. Hate to have those impressions pierced. Do we always believe our performances? Do we always believe our performances? What happens if you stop performing – is that even possible? What happens if you stop performing – is that even possible? Front stage: the “appropriate place” for a performance. Front stage: the “appropriate place” for a performance. Back stage: where the impression is constructed – a place apart. Back stage: where the impression is constructed – a place apart. We dig us some coherence in settings, appearances, manners. We dig us some coherence in settings, appearances, manners. Have we lost out ability to suspend our disbelief? Have we lost out ability to suspend our disbelief?

71 To Quote “The Boss…” “Message just keeps getting clearer/radio’s on and I’m moving around my place… “Message just keeps getting clearer/radio’s on and I’m moving around my place… “I check my look in the mirror/wanna change my clothes, my hair, my face…” “I check my look in the mirror/wanna change my clothes, my hair, my face…” “Man I’m getting nowhere/I’m just livin’ in a dump like this…” “Man I’m getting nowhere/I’m just livin’ in a dump like this…” “There’s something happening somewhere/baby I just know that there is.” “There’s something happening somewhere/baby I just know that there is.”

72 The Presentation of Self What happens when the audience intrudes? What happens when the audience intrudes? Is it deflating to see characters behaving out of character? Is it deflating to see characters behaving out of character? Might make it harder to truly evaluate a performance. Might make it harder to truly evaluate a performance. Important, Goffman argued, to have control of the back stage. Important, Goffman argued, to have control of the back stage. Might not be recoverable. Might not be recoverable.

73 Do You BIRG? Associate publicly with success – with successful people, successful teams, products. Associate publicly with success – with successful people, successful teams, products. Even if you have no role whatsoever in the success. Even if you have no role whatsoever in the success. You BIRG with a purpose. You BIRG with a purpose. It’s about self-image AND social image. It’s about self-image AND social image.

74 Parasocial Interaction Maintain the illusion of a face-to-face relationship with performers – like they’re peers. Maintain the illusion of a face-to-face relationship with performers – like they’re peers. We observe, then “participate” in the performance. We observe, then “participate” in the performance. These are, despite new technology, controlled by the performer. These are, despite new technology, controlled by the performer. We get to know them the same way we do our friends and acquaintances. We get to know them the same way we do our friends and acquaintances. It’s a continuing relationship; a regular event. It’s a continuing relationship; a regular event.

75 Parasocial Interaction We accumulate experiences with the performer. We accumulate experiences with the performer. We know and understand them better than the casual fan. We know and understand them better than the casual fan. We like the predictability. We like the predictability. Don’t fall prey to the “Julianna Margulies Effect…” Don’t fall prey to the “Julianna Margulies Effect…”

76 How Do They Do It? Adopt a conversational style. Adopt a conversational style. Blur the line between performer and performance. Blur the line between performer and performance. Step out of the format and mingle with the audience. Step out of the format and mingle with the audience. And do it all on Twitter… And do it all on Twitter…

77 How Do We Do It? We retain control over the content. We retain control over the content. But we adapt to the performer’s perspective. But we adapt to the performer’s perspective. We take our appropriate “answering role.” We take our appropriate “answering role.” Our attitudes are coached. Our attitudes are coached. We’re schooled in the correct responses to the persona. We’re schooled in the correct responses to the persona.

78 What’s In It For Us? Satisfies a demand for status. Satisfies a demand for status. Provides an idealized version of everyday performance. Provides an idealized version of everyday performance. Provides a learning tool. Provides a learning tool. Gives us the chance to play a role we feel we deserve, but we never are allowed to play in our social environment. Gives us the chance to play a role we feel we deserve, but we never are allowed to play in our social environment. But does PSI celebrate the “ordinary person?” But does PSI celebrate the “ordinary person?”

79 Let’s Profile…

80 Psychology of the Fame-Seeker Argued that the more famous someone was, the more likely it was that his relatives would be famous. Argued that the more famous someone was, the more likely it was that his relatives would be famous. Sits firmly on the “nature” side. Sits firmly on the “nature” side. Purely biological explanations for behavior are hot again today. Purely biological explanations for behavior are hot again today. Didn’t compare inheritance of greatness with inheritance of other traits. Didn’t compare inheritance of greatness with inheritance of other traits. And then there was that whole eugenics thing. And then there was that whole eugenics thing.

81 Psychology of the Fame-Seeker Didn’t write specifically about game, but hinted that artists were motivated by the desire for fame, wealth, and love. Didn’t write specifically about game, but hinted that artists were motivated by the desire for fame, wealth, and love. Introduces the notion of sublimation. Introduces the notion of sublimation. We invented culture to keep our minds off of sex. We invented culture to keep our minds off of sex. Is culture or personality the cause of fame-seeking? Is culture or personality the cause of fame-seeking?

82 Thematic Apperception Test

83 Key Personality Characteristics… Drive to succeed Drive to succeed Willingness to take risks Willingness to take risks Ability to improvise (Braudy) Ability to improvise (Braudy) Early mental stimulation Early mental stimulation Social class Social class Having faced adversity Having faced adversity

84 Key Personality Characteristics… Birth order Birth order Alienation/estrangement Alienation/estrangement Marginalization Marginalization Mental illness Mental illness Generativity Generativity Sex Sex Transcendence Transcendence

85 Key Personality Characteristics… Or is just that young folks today are narcissistic? Or is just that young folks today are narcissistic? Everyone gets a trophy! Everyone gets a trophy! Institutionalization of teaching self-esteem. Institutionalization of teaching self-esteem. Outsourcing intimate parts of our lives. Outsourcing intimate parts of our lives. Death of the amateur. Death of the amateur. Is it our destiny?!!! (cue the orchestra…) Is it our destiny?!!! (cue the orchestra…)


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