What is fame?
Beyoncé. Marilyn Monroe. Taylor Swift. Kanye West. Paul McCartney. The names and faces of these individuals, and others, are plastered across media and burned into the minds of billions of people worldwide. They are, in every sense of the word, celebrities. Oxford dictionary defines a “celebrity” as a famous person, or the state of being well known. With fame often comes wealth, status or respect, and power. Many people pursue celebrity status, but very few achieve it. In fact, about 0.0086 of the world's population is famous (Rosen). How then, is fame achieved? To simplify, there are four main ways to achieve fame and become a celebrity. These methods are characterized by the possession of talent, association, attraction, or luck..
The first type of celebrity, or method of achieving fame, is talent. These are the celebrities who have achieved recognition for their unusual or exceptional abilities and accomplishments. This category includes musicians, comedians, actors, athletes, scientists, or engineers, among other professions, which have caused a person to become widely recognized for their remarkable capabilities, physical or mental. For example, take soccer player David Beckham. Beckham achieved fame by "being a world-class midfielder for Manchester United" (Fenner). Despite his soccer career ending over six years ago, he continues to stay relevant, being signed for modelling and brand representation. People continue to use the famous phrase, "bend it like Beckham", referencing his unique ability to manipulate the soccer ball in ways unseen before (Fenner). Beckham, and many others, have achieved fame through the admiration they gained from followers, as they appeared important and interesting (Sasson).
The second type of celebrity achieves fame through their association with another famous entity. This may involve being born into a well known family, like Prince Harry of the royal family in Britain. It also includes those who have relationships with other celebrities, platonic or romantic. Celebrities like Kim Kardashian, "represents a brand of celebrities whose fame just breeds more fame, often for no particular reason or because of any discernible talent" (Harding). Kim was initially recognized as a constant companion to celebrity Paris Hilton, and really rose to fame due to her association with rapper Ray J, when their sex tape was released (Coleman). Riding off the widespread attention she received due to association with other celebrities, Kim has cultivated a huge following and amassed a net worth of 370 million dollars (Friedman and Gonzalez). Celebrities like Kim Kardashian gain fame not necessarily because they have done anything special to deserve it, but through the power of resources and situation.
The third way people achieve fame is through the power of attraction. These are pretty people or people who live exciting lives. The public likes them because they want to be them - giving them attention is a bit like living vicariously through someone else. People like watching others do things or go places that they can't. This type of celebrity includes Instagram influencers, youtubers, and vloggers. As explained by author Remez Sasson, we like to follow or watch people who live different and apparently better lives than us, because it "makes us feel that that we are participating and taking part in their glory. We feel close to them, as if they are our friends, and this gives us a good feeling". For example, Murad Osmann has achieved an Instagram following of 4.1 million for posting exciting pictures of he and his wife traveling to exotic places. Osmann and other similar influencers have gained popularity based on their general public appeal.
The fourth way that people achieve fame is by luck. These are people with generally quick and fleeting fame. They are the internet famous, the Vine stars, the Youtube sensations, the viral tweets, the Tik-Tok trends, and the popular memes. Something these people did, often comedic or embarrassing, had a random and sudden appeal to a large mass of people. For example, pictured on the left is Noah Ritter, also known as "the apparently kid". By random chance, during a visit with his family to a county fair, he was asked a question by a reporter. His response quickly went viral, and he was interviewed on various talk shows and appeared in multiple commercials. Most notably, he appeared multiple times on The Ellen Show. ("Noah Ritter") For a period of time, people like Noah achieve sudden fame due to the coincidence of things aligning perfectly to expose them to the limelight.