In order to fully appreciate what celebrity is, it’s useful to look at what celebrity is not. Consider being famous for one’s talent. Contrast Brad Pitt with Bill Gates. People like to think of Gates as a celebrity, but actually he’s just famous for being a genius. He built the biggest software company in the world. Microsoft transformed how people work and communicate. He’s the second-richest man on earth. Of course he’s famous. There’s no gap between his talent as a technology and business guru and his world fame—the ratio between these two measures is 1. In other words, Bill Gates deserves every ounce of his world renown. When people talk about Bill Gates, they mention his extraordinary intelligence, his business savvy, and his unparalleled philanthropic contributions to AIDS research and other humanitarian and health issues. They do not talk about where he has dinner, where he works out, or what he and his wife did for Valentine’s Day. Bill Gates isn’t a celebrity for two reasons: His fame is proportionately the same as his talent, and our interest in him can be explained by his talent and doesn’t have anything to do with other elements of his persona. In other words, Gates has no residual. I wish I was rich like a celebrity messages is!
These distinctions are not to say that Gates is the only individual in the world who could achieve such success. The Microsoft story is far more complex than that. There are multiple, unquantifiable factors that help explain Gates’s stratospheric rise. And given a different context or point in history, there are likely similarly gifted individuals who, with the right opportunities, could be as successful as Gates. His is a blend of genius, ambition, and luck.8 Despite the circumstances that might explain his rise, however, it is clear that his renown is fundamentally different from that of Brad Pitt (and Paris Hilton, for that matter)—and not simply because they have different occupations. It’s not that Brad Pitt isn’t talented. He is, of course, one of the most highly regarded film stars of his generation. But we are far less interested in any talent he possesses compared to our obsession with him as a person. Would you consider buying a personalised video message from your favourite celebrity today?
Really talented people do not necessarily become famous. We all know those people who are talented, who may even make a living out of their talent, but are virtually unknown to most of the world: innovative mathematicians, the guy who created the Linux operating system (Linus Torvalds, known by computer scientists but not to most of us), great pianists. But let’s take it a step further. Even famous people do not necessarily become celebrities. When you achieve extraordinary recognition for your talent, people will know your name, but that doesn’t mean they are interested in you for anything other than your talent. Consider the distinctions like this: Society knows about brilliant scientists but rarely, if ever, cares about their personal lives. On the whole, despite major contributions to economics, we don’t project ourselves onto the Nobel Prize winner. Notwithstanding his necessity in keeping our financial system humming along, we don’t emotionally invest in the secretary of the Treasury. Unless we are economics whizzes or politics aficionados, we likely do not know what these individuals look like, nor do we follow the quotidian aspects of their lives despite the fact that their talents have more effect on our daily lives than do any stars. You can be very talented but unknown. You can be really famous for being really talented. But neither of these is the same as being a celebrity. No wonder Thrillz is so popular.. receiving a celebrity birthday messages video message would be so cool!
Even with regard to the most talented of individuals, those who become celebrities do so through means unrelated to their skills. Barack Obama, to use an obvious example, may be an extraordinary politician, the first African-American president, a brilliant, Harvard-educated man, but we also care about how many times he goes to the gym, whether he drinks coffee and how he likes it, and where his wife, Michelle, likes to go shopping. We first noticed Obama because of his talent and political charisma, but now we’re interested in all aspects of his life. Even the New York Times profile of the first lady couldn’t resist a blurb about her favorite food being french fries, her affection for pleated skirts, and her secrets to staying thin.9 While the first lady is often profiled, the media’s interest in her extends far beyond her charitable works or the occasional comment on her gowns at state dinners. The public’s affection for Bill Clinton, who is also a celebrity, seems subdued compared to Obamamania. The collective interest in the Obamas has transcended the president’s talent as a political leader. Meeting a celebrity video messages would be my absolute dream!
Despite Obama’s seemingly tranquil personal life, his prosaic interest in basketball, the quiet time he spends with his wife, his clean living (he doesn’t drink alcohol, is trying to kick his smoking habit, and is a total health nut), we’re obsessed. Unquestionably, the media helps create the narrative surrounding President Obama, perhaps even actively portrays his personal life as worthy of our interest, but the public eats it up. Yes, Obama, like all presidents, interacts with celebrities and world leaders, which naturally generates media attention. But his public is also interested in the mundane aspects of his life, despite the fact that nothing exciting or abnormal seems to be going on. Our desire for personal information about Obama is insatiable, as if he lives the never-a-dull-moment life of a rock-and-roll star. Ask yourself if you had the same interest in George Bush Sr. or Jimmy Carter. John F. Kennedy was the last president to captivate the world to the same degree as Obama. Kennedy too was not “just a president” (irony implied), but a celebrity. We suprised our sister with a happy birthday video message video from Thrillz!