How Celebrity Culture Affects Society Cultural Studies Essay

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As we can see that today, the news about celebrities is full on all kind of media. They appear on all kind of communication media from printed media: newspapers, magazines, to television and online media like internet. It can be said that we are living in the century of media innovation together with the development of celebrity culture. For many years ago, if some child was asked about his dream, it would be teacher, pilot, or lawyer… however, today, most of the answers will be "to be famous". It is just only one of many impact of celebrity culture on us or even our generation.

The significant development of celebrity industry also contributes on those effects. As people see how "easy" to be or to do something, they will consider it a target to achieve. This is absolutely right with the many ones' dream to become celebrities. Furthermore, when the celebrity content becomes daily, it also effects on all of us, especially the young. Their life styles, their behaviors… are often imitated.

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They are the reasons why I choose this topic: celebrity culture. Of course it a very wide topic to do research, so I decide to narrow it and concentrate on the reason and how does celebrity culture affect our behaviors.

I determined my three objectives:

1. To examine the rising tide celebrity culture on newspapers, magazines, TV and the Internet.

2. To explain why many people want to be celebrities.

3. To research the effects of celebrity culture on our behaviour

Section B: Analysis of Findings

Objective 1: To examine the rising tide celebrity culture in newspapers, magazines, TV and the Internet

Together with the media explosion, celebrity culture has become a rising tide on all field of communication industry. Moreover, celebrity content has been foundation to the news of media in the recent century. From the nightly television programmes to mass market magazines to the online edition of newspapers, celebrity news has proved its efficiency to attract attention and to impulse consumption (G.Turner, 2010).

In the past, celebrity news might have been limited to a specific range of television outlets and print, it is now a sort of content that can be found right across the media series. The development of new media has leading new ways of introducing, producing and consuming celebrity while online magazines and news - which are especially grown as an additional form of the tendency print media - has also had an expansive effect (G.Turner 2010).

According to Robert van Krieken (2010) said in his article, celebrity which is usually seen as a frothy and unreal topic is also a measure of how superficial contemporary culture has become. However, the celebrity production industry has never ever significantly developed like it today. Also, there is no signal that the limits of the spread of celebrity culture have been reached (G.Turner, 2010). The continuously operating apparatus of celebrity industry along with the growth of digital media has made them the perfect partners who contribute in the expansion of each other. The production of reality TV shows, the rise of Idol, Master Chef, Australia's got Talent and others take us to a point that all television formats are produced depending on exploiting people interest in the chance to become a celebrity (G.Turner 2010).

It is the celebrity industry which first "creates" celebrity through the process called celebritisation (G.Turner 2010). For example, the reality TV shows like Idol that many contestants try to express themselves to be recognised through the performance process. This is one among many TV shows which offer people the opportunity to prove themselves to become famous. That is a very first step of the process of transformation (G.Turner 2010). Then, the expansion of digital media - the producers and distributors of content through printed and electronic forms - magazines, newspapers, television, and now with the development of the various kinds of on-line media would help the celebrities to hold their fame (G.Turner 2010). Those all contribute in the fact that news of celebrities is now full of magazines, newspaper, internet and other kinds of media.

William Shakespeare wrote "All the world's a stage, and all the men and women merely players". It is true for movie stars and TV hosts and other celebrities who are famous for being famous (W.Shakespeare, As You Like It, 1600).

Objective 2: To explain why many people want to be celebrities

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It is obvious that the development and efficiency of the media machine help to create a celebrity easier. That means many people's dreams now easier to be real. Especially, the growth of the reality TV shows make people have more opportunity to appear on TV. Therefore, there are a lot of celebrities who are production of this type of celebrity production industry. A phenomenon called Susan Boyle is an example. A 47-year-old single woman has been the worldwide star just after only one appearance on TV. She had sung the song "I dreamed a dream" in the TV show "Britain's got talent" (C.Cadwalladr 2010). Then it was like her dream come true when the video of her performance got more than 100 millions views on YouTube. After that, her first album "I Dreamed a Dream" sold more copies than any others. The story named Susan Boyle like a fairy tale has spread over the world about a talent woman and how easy to become a celebrity (C.Cadwalladr 2010). Furthermore, if someone is the winner in a show, with the support of many kinds of media, he could become a celebrity without doubt.

What seems to come next to fame? It is wealthy. Statistics show that actors can be paid nearly $US20 million for making a single film (S.Bunbury 2009). But it is not the only source of their income. They are also paid to appear on advertising or to represent a brand. For many years, Australian celebrities' efforts are trying to sell us things like hair replacement, air-conditioning, alcoholic drinks, house-and-land packages and fast food. Sarah Murdoch hustles for undies; Gwyneth Paltrow endorses cosmetics; Celine Dion used to represent a car company, Bruce Willis hawks vodka (C.Middendorp 2010). Hence, they can earn millions of dollar from these advertised campaigns (C.Middendorp 2010). Another example is Kylie Minogue who is a famous singer in Australia. She is also known as actress, children's book author, underwear designer and perfumer. As a result, her net wealth in 2006 is approximately $55 million, according to James Thomson-the editor of BRW's Entertainer Rich List (D.Ziffer, L.Dubecki 2006).

However, the obvious prices that most of them have to pay for the fame are their own privacy. The fact is that the celebrities always use media for their self-promotion. So, some people argue that it is unfair for them when the media reports some thing which they want to keep secret. Nevertheless, other said that celebrities take advantage from media to create the ideal figures of them no matter how inaccurate they are, so it has right to tell the truth (B. Haywood 2004). Therefore, some famous celebrities are always followed by the paparazzi and their privacy is exposed on magazines, newspapers.

Objective 3: To research the effects of celebrity culture on our behaviour

It is obvious that in a society that is obsessed by media and celebrity culture, celebrities have a great impact on everyone. From fashion trends to life style or political views, people's behaviours, interests and beliefs are strongly affected by celebrities. Furthermore, these celebrity-culture-obsessions usually begin at an early age, therefore, other than adults, teenagers and children are most impressed. They often think of famous people as role model and try to become those figures (C. Shaffer, 2010). For example, there was a research done by the UK research organisation YouGov in 2005 which surveyed a group 800 of 16-19-year-age young people (Cassidy 2006). It showed that 10% of teenagers would leave school to appear on TV if they had opportunity. Sixteen in 100 of them believed they could find success through celebrity industry. Meanwhile, 9% think being famous is the best way to achieve wealthy without qualifications.

The positive affects of celebrities are social and environmental effects. Many environmental topics and issues such as global warming, wildlife animal protection… could approach the publicity thanks to the celebrities. Tom Hanks, Al Gore, and Leonardo DiCaprio strongly believe in living green lifestyle (C. Shaffer, 2010). These advocacy-celebrities can positively influence people as they would live more eco-friendly and do good thing for environment protection. Furthermore, many celebrities' campaigns concerning social issues like charity, helping poor people, HIV… also have good impacts on people recognition. One example is that Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie had adopted 3 orphans from different countries (Ethiopia, Cambodia and Vietnam).

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However, the bad effects also be accompanied by the good effects. The public, with so much exposure to celebrities, could strongly be influenced by their behaviour or even misbehaviour. The fact is that people are imitated by the behaviour associating with success and fame. So, that is the reason why they can have impacts on people, especially the young. Meanwhile, young celebrities can easily affect young people. However, "two thirds of 1,007 people in a weekend USA Today' Poll believe Hollywood stars are no more likely to get into trouble than other young people" (K. Thomas, 2007). Paris Hilton and Linsay Lohan are example. Both of them had to go to jail because of using drugs and driving when they got drunk. Other scandals of the young celebrities concerning with sex, drugs, drunk, clubs, parties…. are exposed daily on many kinds of media. Hence, the downgrading lifestyles of celebrities are seriously affects on young people in general and the next generation in particular. No parents want those bad figures to become their children's role but they could find no way to get rid of their effects.

Section C: Self-evaluation

Research skills/Procedure

Actually, at first, I choose the topic concerning with technology because it seems to be "hot" and there are plenty of articles and books writing about it. However, I decided the topic celebrity culture because I found I am interesting in it. It is just because of my habit to go online and read news everyday. I was not sure there are any research or articles concerning with this topic, but I had finally chosen what I am interesting in not others are.

After the hardest work- choosing topic, I have to determine how I could approach it. I focused on how does celebrity culture affect our behavior, with three objectives: to examine the rising tide celebrity culture on newspapers, magazines, TV and the Internet; to evaluate the cost to be a celebrity; to research the effects of celebrity culture on our behaviour. However, on the process I did the research, I had to change my second objective to "to explain why many people want to be celebrities", which seems to be more suitable to my way of approaching the topic.

Unfortunately, I could not find any printed resource in Taylors' library which could help my research. So, I had to find everything on the Internet. I used google.com and others scholar website on Study Smart to find most of my references and articles.

Oral communication skills

In the oral presentation, I have chosen to talk about my two first objectives. I think I did well in the oral presentation. I had done this many times before so I did not feel nervous any more when standing in front of crowed. Furthermore, I also control my body language well. I used the outline on cue cards and the power point for my presentation. I did not learn it by heart because I wanted to make it as naturally as I could. Hence, I received good comments from the teacher about those skills. He also commented well about my tied-up-point. Actually, I came to my mind when I was on tram to school.

However, I need to improve my pronunciation and concentrate more on plural endings. Also, because I did not practice my presentation enough time, so I was overtime- 8 minutes. So, I have to practice more to improve my English in general and my pronunciation in particular. I also have to learn to handle the time allowed in next time I do presentation.

Organisational skills

At first, I found it not too hard to meet the deadlines. Because most of my resources for the research project are from Internet, so it was easy for me to collect everything. Then, the hardest and most time-consuming step is to read all of them and classify which articles; journals… are suitable for which objective. Unfortunately, I was sick and absent 3 days from school, so, I could not hand in the second objective on time. Therefore, I did really hard to catch up with other friends and the deadlines also. From this part, I have learnt a lot about time management: to arrange work, to do the schedule, to catch up…. I think this very important for my future study in university.

Also, this is the first time I write the reference list, so I found it is quite difficult. I had to do it many times and asked the teacher to make sure that I was on the right way. Thanks to him, I could finally finish it. Now I feel more confidence to write the reference list next time.

To sum up, I have learnt many new things when doing this research project. They are not only academic, but also social and communicational skills: to do the oral presentation, to manage time, to arrange work, to write a report, to do a bibliography, to overcome unexpected problems…. Those skills are always important in both my study and my life in future.

Section D: Reference List

Elliott, T. 2010, 'Celebrity is a growth industry', The Age, 29 May, viewed 01 August 2010, <http://www.theage.com.au/national/celebrity-is-a-growth-industry-20100528-wlki.html>.

Bunbury, S. 2009, 'Like a prayer: Celebrities and religion', The Age, 07 April, viewed 01 August 2010, <http://www.theage.com.au/lifestyle/people/like-a-prayer-celebrities-and-religion-20090407-9wyx.html>.

Shaffer, C. 2010, 'How do celebrities influence people?', eHow Contributor, 28 June, viewed 01 August 2010, <http://www.ehow.com/about_6675427_do-celebrities-influence-people_.html#ixzz0w6UqTCU7>

Cadwalladr, C. 2010, 'Celebrity: The sadness of Susan Boyle', The Advertiser, 26 June.

Funnel, N. 2010, 'Responsibility goes with the celebrity', The Age, 21 June.

Haywood, B. 2004, 'The Price of Fame', The Age, 08 November.

McDonald, B., Loughlan, K. 2010, 'Fame is like the real thing', Sydney Morning Herald, 06 May.

Middendorp, C. 2010, 'Celebrity may earn millions in ads, but look decidedly cheap', The Age, 14 January, p.15.

Thomas, K. 2007, 'Young Hollywood: What has gotten into them?', USA Today, 06 June.

Ziffer, D., Dubecki, L. 2006, 'What next for Kylie?', The Age, 09 December.

Turner, G. 2010, 'Approaching celebrity studies' in Celebrity Studies, Volume 1, p.11 - 20.