Traditionally, famous people are known because of their extraordinary qualities like acting, musical talent, athletic skill or simple beauty. Woody Allen is known for his talent to write and direct outstanding films, Mario Vargas Lliosa is known for winning The Nobel Prize in Literature in 2010 because for his cartography of structures of power and his trenchant images of the individual’s resistance, revolt and defeat, Cristiano Ronaldo is known for his extraordinary football skills and Andy Warhol is known for being a leading figure in the visual art movement known as pop art. These people are known to be famous for their unique qualities and because of that a definition of fame should be understood as a very big professional success. However, now, in a contemporary society there are people who are even more famous than the ones above and Paris Hilton is one of them.Order now
This is a perfect example how someone who doesn’t have any unique qualities, can become more famous than someone who has those unique qualities. Her fame comes out of fame itself, she’s known to be famous – for being famous. On the other hand, there are thoughts that people like Paris Hilton, shouldn’t be called famous, because they are known to be celebrities. This explanation is quiet simple and makes sense, but in nowadays society fame doesn’t mean what it meant before and now the synonym of it is visibility. When a person is visible, he/she is known, when someone is known, that means that he/she is famous. Fame, visibility, celebrity, being known comes out from the same circle.
One of the reasons why the concept of fame changed, because television was invented, with that came bigger visibility and that led to fame. Reality shows is a great way to get that visibility and to get the attention that the participants desire. With that said it is clear that fame/visibility is one of the reasons why people want to participate in reality shows. Fast money, public recognition are the typical signs of narcissism. Our society constantly gets the signs from media, newspapers and another communication systems that the true happiness comes with fame, because with fame comes wealth.
A contemporary mentality opened the doors to the reality television, without realizing that the consequences might be tragic. The youngest people in our society get indoctrinated by the idea that fame is the most important ambition you can have. Most of them will know who is Paris Hilton, but won’t know who is Mario Vargas Lliosa, because they don’t see him on the television. Parents and teachers tell us that it takes a hard work to become successful, others say that you are born with natural talents. At this time, neither hard work, nor talent is required to achieve fame. However, it shouldn’t be misunderstood that hard work doesn’t make a difference; it does, just not in fame accomplished by participating in reality shows.
This new pure kind of fame without subject or predicate is like the kind of sensation that might derive from being admired while riding in someone else’s Mercedes Benz. The anonymous noticing of a murderer is the same as that of a scientist who makes a breakthrough. The only thing that is eventually important is that they both get equal time framed in a flat media image not even for fifteen minutes.
With that said let’s remember a murder of John Lennon that happened in 1980s in New York by a deranged fan. In a prison interview to ABC News, a reporter, Barbara Walters, asked a murderer (Mark David Chapman) why he killed him, the answer was simple: “John Lennon fell into a very deep hole, a hole that was so deep inside of me that I thought by killing him, I would acquire his fame”. Noticeably, he said I would acquire his fame, not I would acquire fame, which on one hand shows that he wanted to be as famous as John Lennon was, with a meaning that not only he would be known in USA (where the murder happened) but all around the world. Well, now his name appears in Wikipedia, he appeared in almost all television channels and the album that John Lennon singed for him hours before he killed a former Beatle star now is up for sale at over 500.000 pounds.
Mark Chapman is famous now, he acquired wanted fame, but kind of fame is that? Do by murdering someone you can call yourself famous? With that said, it looks like fame and the need of being famous is becoming too dangerous for our society and especially the young ones. However, the ones who participate in reality shows just to acquire that fame don’t care about the consequences, because they are so obsessed of the need to be known. It shouldn’t be forgotten that with fame comes also the ugliness and the dark side of being famous. In an interview with Los Angeles Times Woody Allen described fame: “When you’re a kid you think to yourself, fame and fortune and it’s going to be so…but then you quickly find…wait a minute, the upside is nothing and the downside is nothing”.
In a conclusion, it is known that reality television achieved the results that any other television program could. With the development of the mass communication technologies, entertainment and the way that people want to be entertained changed. Reality shows are much more than just simple entertaining programs, but it is a proclamation of subjectivity, where the person is centred to himself in a wish to achieve wanted fame and visibility. These narcissistic participants reflect the contemporary television audience and their obsessive need to be famous. Fame has become the ideological and intellectual fabric of modern capitalism. Along the evolution of society, the only consistent thing is our narcissistic fascination with ourselves, which is even more valued now. These entertaining shows and their base of reality turned to be significant and one of the key factors in modern mass communication system.
ADORNO, Theodor W., and J. M. Bernstein. “On the Fetish Caracter.” The Culture Industry Selected Essays on Mass Culture. London: Routledge, 2001. 39-40.
Ceia, Carlos, ed. Angry Young Postmodernism. 1st ed. Lisboa: LuLu, 2010.
CEIA, Carlos (1998), O Que é Afinal o Pós- Modernismo?, Edições Século XXI: Lisboa.
COWEN, Tyler. What Price Fame? Cambridge, MA: Harvard UP, 2000.
HESMONDHALGH, David. The Cultural Industries. London: Sage Publ., 2007.
HILL, Annette. Reality TV Audiences and Popular Factual Television. London [u.a.: Routledge, 2007. 179.