Celebrity  

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This page Celebrity is part of the bread and circuses series. Illustration: Pollice Verso by Jean-Léon Gérôme, 1872
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This page Celebrity is part of the bread and circuses series.
Illustration: Pollice Verso by Jean-Léon Gérôme, 1872
Mona Lisa, or La Gioconda. (La Joconde), is a 16th century oil painting by Leonardo da Vinci, and is one of the most famous paintings in the world.
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Mona Lisa, or La Gioconda. (La Joconde), is a 16th century oil painting by Leonardo da Vinci, and is one of the most famous paintings in the world.
Napoleon was a VIP Illustration: Napoléon Bonaparte abdicated in Fontainebleau (1845) by Paul Delaroche
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Napoleon was a VIP
Illustration: Napoléon Bonaparte abdicated in Fontainebleau (1845) by Paul Delaroche

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Train wreck at Montparnasse (October 22, 1895) by Studio Lévy and Sons.
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Train wreck at Montparnasse (October 22, 1895) by Studio Lévy and Sons.

A celebrity is a widely-recognized or famous person who commands a high degree of public and media attention. The word stems from the Latin adjective celeber meaning famous or celebrated. While fame is generally considered a necessary precondition for celebrity status, it is not always sufficient. There has to be a level of public interest in the person, which may or may not be connected to the reason they are famous. Many celebrities are only so for a certain amount of time, perhaps after appearing on a television program or doing something to cast them into the public eye, such as climbing Mount Everest or being the first to do something. There are also specialist celebrities, who are only celebrities to those who enjoy a particular subject and so consider them a celebrity.

A public figure such as a politician or CEO may be famous, but they may not become a celebrity unless public and mass media interest is piqued. For example Virgin Director Richard Branson was famous as a CEO, but he did not become a celebrity until he attempted to circumnavigate the globe in a hot air balloon. On the other hand, mass entertainment personalities such as soap opera actors or country music stars are likely to become celebrities even if the person deliberately avoids media attention.

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Fictional celebrities

When most people think of a superhero or a comic book celebrity, Superman, Spider-Man, and Batman will usually be the first that comes to mind. If one has to name a famous wizard, the names would typically be Merlin, Gandalf or Harry Potter. Mickey Mouse is perhaps the most famous cartoon character and fictional mouse in the world. The most famous movie monsters are King Kong and Godzilla, the archetypical detective is Sherlock Holmes and most people's idea of a spy is James Bond.

Famous for being famous

Paris Hilton, famous for being famous

Famous for being famous, in popular culture terminology, refers to someone who attains celebrity status for no particular identifiable reason, or who achieves fame through association with a celebrity. The term is a pejorative, suggesting that the individual has no particular talents or abilities. Even when their fame arises from a particular talent or action on their part, the term will sometimes still apply if their fame is perceived as disproportionate to what they earned through their own talent or work.

15 minutes of fame

See also: 15 minutes of fame, One-hit wonder

Andy Warhol famously coined the phrase "15 minutes of fame". "Celebrities" in the 21st century can now be famous simply by being in the right place at the right time. Certain "15 minutes of fame" celebrities can be average people seen with an A-list celebrity, who are sometimes noticed on entertainment news channels. These "celebs" are regular people who originally are not celebrities, becoming celebrities, and are often turned into celebrities based on the ridiculous things they do. "In fact, many reality show contestants fall into this category: the only thing that qualifies them to be on TV is that they're real."

Certain people are only remembered today because of a movie portrayal, certain story or urban legend surrounding their life and less for their accomplishments. Antonio Salieri was a famous and well-known 18th-century composer, but his fictional portrayal as an antagonist (for example, in the musical and film Amadeus) has been more famous than his music since the end of the 20th century. Roscoe "Fatty" Arbuckle and O. J. Simpson are more notorious for their association with murder trials than for their respective movie and sports careers. Ronald Reagan is more famous as a politician today than as a movie actor. Centuries after his death, Andrea Mantegna is now better known as the mentor of Leonardo da Vinci than for his own paintings.

Social networking

Celebrities have been flocking to social networking and video hosting sites such as YouTube, Twitter, Facebook, Google+, and MySpace. Social networking sites allow celebrities to communicate directly with their fans, removing the middle-man known as traditional media. Social media humanizes celebrities in a way that arouses public fascination as evident by the success of magazines such as People Weekly. Celebrity blogging have also spawned stars such as Perez Hilton who is well known for not only blogging, but also outing celebrities.

See also




Unless indicated otherwise, the text in this article is either based on Wikipedia article "Celebrity" or another language Wikipedia page thereof used under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License; or on original research by Jahsonic and friends. See Art and Popular Culture's copyright notice.

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