Media Essays – Media Tool Celebrities

  • April 11, 2021/

Media Tool Celebrities

In Order to Feed the Public’s “Need to Know” the Media has Become a tool of Celebrities to Facilitate Their “Out of Control” Life-Styles

Daily we read them, headlines that are crafted to focus our attention on the lives of celebrities. Whether those headlines are found on the opening screens of our Internet Service Providers or, be they the headlines that we read while standing in line at the check-out counter of our local grocery store, we are spoon fed daily doses of the moral and ethical failures of the rich and famous.

Daily we hear about them, they are the lead-in stories for our local news broadcasts and the fodder for jokes on late night television. They are true life accounts of extreme and outrageous conduct of celebrities. Whether we hear the accounts as news items or as punch-lines, celebrity escapades seem to document a wasting away of talent and squandering of the endless possibilities that are celebrities are afforded.

Even though we would expect these headlines to appear in dramatized versions of tabloid newspapers known for sensationalized journalism. More and more we find the exploits of the same few persons repeatedly making their way into main stream media as well. This outcome was most predictable, as the habits and life-styles that are practiced and lived by celebrities; together with the indulgences provided to them collide with the norms of social conscience and the requirements of law.

We the consumer, are encouraged to fill the void in our lives by being observers to their’s. To a large segment of society those daily doses of celebrity voyeurism serves to feed a craving not unlike doses of heroine to a junkie. We as a society crave to know more because we have for the longest period of time, been given glimpses of these celebrities successes and failures. Some of us relish when their lives are filled happiness and success, taking pride in their accomplishments. Some of us are jealous of them, consider them pampered and spoiled, relishing the fact that they find themselves in trouble or, are acting in conformity with a self-destructive path.

What is happening in the lives of Paris Hilton, Britney Spears, Jen, or Lindsay Lohan? Who is their latest love interest? Where do they party and with whom? What are the latest fashion trends they are setting? What problems have they gotten themselves into most recently? All these questions and more are answered for us even before the questions are asked.

Are these questions answered for us because the media wants to fuel our interest in celebrities’ lives? Or, are they answered for us because the media is merely responding to the demands of the public’s “need to know”? Or, is the media being used as a tool of the celebrity, a means for the celebrity to increase demand for themselves as a commodity that results in their ability to earn ever increasing sums of money that can be used to sustain their life-style?

The media and celebrities have a strange symbiotic relationship. Celebrities go out of their way to garner the spot-light when it is convenient for them and when the headline or photos help to foster their image. Yet, that same celebrity will not hesitate to berate the media when the headline writers and paparazzi portray them in a bad light or invade the privacy the celebrities claim they desire.

This inter-relationship between celebrities and the media is aimed at one audience, the public that fuels both with money. Consequently, it must be argued and I firmly believe that the media is a tool of celebrities that facilitates their “Out of Control” life-styles in an attempt to capitalize on the general public’s tendency to “Celebrity Worship”, a tendency that has recently been classified by degree and personality type in the “Celebrity Attitude Scale”.1

The Celebrity Attitude Scale identifies three (3) personality profiles, “Entertainment-Social” (This dimension comprises attitudes that fans are attracted to a favorite celebrity because of their perceived ability to entertain and become a social focus); “Intense-Personal” (The intense-personal aspect of celebrity worship reflects intensive and compulsive feelings about the celebrity, akin to the obsessional tendencies of fans); and, “Borderline-Pathological” (This dimension is typified by uncontrollable behaviors and fantasies regarding scenarios involving their celebrities).

Whether the medium is print, television or Internet web sites, the media is “banking” on every member of the public to whatever degree, being inflicted with Celebrity Worship and if not already smitten, the media is dedicated to causing those not yet smitten to become so by discovering the latest tidbits that can be converted into breaking news about the lives of celebrities. “Banking” is the appropriate word.

It was in 1957 that American citizens’ obsession with celebrities was fist responsible for attaining gross merchandising revenues that exceeded One Billion Dollars (US$1,000,000,000.00) annually.2 It would be a monumental task to estimate the current gross merchandising revenues generated and numbers of persons that “Celebrity Worship” is directly responsible for employing.

However, it is easy to comprehend that from the scope of the task of writing, photographing, publishing, distributing and selling accounts of celebrities latest adventures on a national and international basis; and, taking into consideration payrolls, travel expenses, advertising revenues, publication and broadcast processes and the sales of merchandise, that the number of persons employed would total into the hundreds of thousands; and, gross revenues would exceed the Gross National Products of many of the world’s nations.

Not only are the media outlets scoring big profits from publicizing the information they obtain about celebrities in order to obtain increased readership and ratings that translate into increased revenue from advertising and magazine sales, so too are the celebrities who are getting rich in the process as their names, likeness and mere presence become a commodity to a hungry public.

By way of example, in 2004 through 2005, Paris Hilton was paid as much as $300,000.00 to attend foreign events, including parties thrown in her honor. During the course of that year, she earned an estimated $6,500,000.00 in personal appearance fees, was mentioned in 17,591 press clips and 592 radio and television shows.3 However, after her release from jail, it was reported but subsequently denied by her publicists, that she was demanding Three Hundred and Fifty Thousand British Pounds (£350,000.00), which is approximately $662,000.00, to appear on a British Radio Show to discuss her prison ordeal.

Likewise, Lindsay Lohan granted Ok Magazine an exclusive interview within 17 hours of checking herself into the Cirque Lodge rehabilitation facility and again, upon returning to Los Angeles following her discharge from the facility. The interview was not motivated merely by a desire to evidence to her fans that she was sincere about changing her life’s direction. Rather, to a great extent, it was motivated by the fees she charged them to publish the exclusive interview and the pictures taken of her with her estranged father.

The media’s coverage of celebrities creates a spiral effect. The more publicity they garner propels them to earn increasing sums of money. The increasing sums of money then allow them to engage in outrageous conduct that garners them more publicity all of which fuels the public’s demand in furtherance of the adage that has now become entrenched in the marketing of celebrities: “there is no such thing as bad press”.

Either because celebrities believe that “there is no such thing as bad press”, or because their lavish life-styles and high profile names make them believe they are beyond suffering the repercussions of their conduct, celebrities have been “Out of Control” in the conduct of their lives and pose a risk of harm to themselves and to others.

Whether their “Out of Control” conduct is the product of attempts by some to keep their names in the public spot-light in what they perceive as a marketing ploy that will inspire, delight and perhaps enlarge their fan base; or, the arrogance that is fueled by their celebrity status, the acts and omissions of some celebrities has in many instances shocked the American conscious. Moreover, to a certain degree, it may have had very strong backlash that is only now being recognized and that may result in some celebrities learning that they need to exert self-control and discipline in their lives.

The masses observe and interact with each other in idle gossip about the lives of celebrities. The masses comment on the unacceptability of these celebrities conduct. Yet, that same society encourages these celebrities’ actions by continuing to pay for the magazines, watching the shows and reading the web site “blogs” perpetuated by the media.

The added publicity then provides positive reinforcement to their unacceptable conduct. Consequently, the general public’s reaction to the media coverage contributes to these celebrities’ downward spiral by “Operant Conditioning”, the psychological theory that positive reinforcement of bad acts will perpetuate bad acts.4

The lives of celebrities take over our world in many ways. We turn on the television the celebrities are there. We go to the market the celebrities are there. We turn on our computer and search them out.

Our societies’ pop culture has turned watching drugged out or drunken, half naked, rich girls into a national past-time. We have to take the time to ask ourselves, are these people desired to be our next generations’ role models? If so, the world is going to be a very scary place. Yet, our consuming dollars elevate them in the hearts and minds of the young who observe their parents and their peers obsessing on the lives of these celebrities.

Through the demand placed by the public for access to more and more information on these celebrities, we are giving these celebrities more opportunity, career success, name recognition, and profit from their own bad behavior. This in turn results in more and more outrageous conduct as they take us to new moral and social lows.

It has often been said by celebrities that they do not want to be role models for our children. Yet, the spot-light that is cast upon them by media attention puts them in that power position. “As tweens [children between the ages of 8 to 12 years] grow up they don’t have a lot of prior knowledge when it comes to lots of situations, and so they look for someone to imitate. […] For tweens this often means the person is someone they want to be like”.5 Since these celebrities are role models nonetheless, should we not let our dollars force them into becoming if not good role models, role models that will not engage in conduct that is reckless to the life and property of others?

This was the message being sent with the incarceration of Paris Hilton; this is the message that awaits Lindsay Lohan now that she has emerged from rehabilitation to face the consequences of her reckless driving while under the influence of controlled substances; and, this is the lessen that has been learned by Brittany Spears, who is now paying one of the most costly of all prices for her conduct, the loss of her children.

As the news of the effects of the harm caused by each of these celebrities reached out to society through the media what was the result? Vehement protests by their ardent fans to how their favorite celebrity was treated; bashing and name calling by those that dislike or are envious of them; and, increased sales of magazines for those that got the “Money Photo”.

Persons with untold wealth can always afford to do what those who do not have such vast amounts of discretionary money cannot afford to do. But we as a society can little afford to support the publications that would flaunt their conduct and make it appear to be acceptable.

A message must be sent to the media, that they are a tool of these celebrities who are using them to gain access to ever increasing sums of wealth. Therefore, if the media will not censor their own publications, then it is necessary for the power of money to do it, by way of boycotting the publications that support these celebrities’ bad acts by providing publicity to them.

Bibliography

1.Maltby, J., Houran, J., Lange, R., Ashe, D., & McCutcheon, L.E. (2002). Thou Shalt Worship No Other Gods – Unless They Are Celebrities. Personality and Individual Differences, 32, 1157-1172.

2.The Teacher Who Lured Celebrities

Paul E. Duffield

Music Educators Journal, Vol. 43, No. 5 (Apr. – May, 1957), p. 80 and 82

3.Forbes Magazine Top 100 Celebrities (2005), Estimates compiled by Forbes; published sources include Billboard, Pollstar, Adams Media Research, Publishers Weekly and Nielsen SoundScan. Press clips compiled by LexisNexis; TV/radio mentions compiled by Factiva.

4.Ferster, C. B., & Skinner, B. F. (1957). Schedules of reinforcement. New York: Appleton-Century-Crofts.

5.Adapted from National Institute of Child Health & Human Development (2003). Modeling your own behavior to provide a consistent, positive example for your child. Washington, DC: National Institutes of Health. Penn State Cooperative Extension, Pike County, Tween Topics (2003)

Media Tool Celebrities

In Order to Feed the Public’s “Need to Know” the Media has Become a tool of Celebrities to Facilitate Their “Out of Control” Life-Styles

Daily we read them, headlines that are crafted to focus our attention on the lives of celebrities. Whether those headlines are found on the opening screens of our Internet Service Providers or, be they the headlines that we read while standing in line at the check-out counter of our local grocery store, we are spoon fed daily doses of the moral and ethical failures of the rich and famous.

Daily we hear about them, they are the lead-in stories for our local news broadcasts and the fodder for jokes on late night television. They are true life accounts of extreme and outrageous conduct of celebrities. Whether we hear the accounts as news items or as punch-lines, celebrity escapades seem to document a wasting away of talent and squandering of the endless possibilities that are celebrities are afforded.

Even though we would expect these headlines to appear in dramatized versions of tabloid newspapers known for sensationalized journalism. More and more we find the exploits of the same few persons repeatedly making their way into main stream media as well. This outcome was most predictable, as the habits and life-styles that are practiced and lived by celebrities; together with the indulgences provided to them collide with the norms of social conscience and the requirements of law.

We the consumer, are encouraged to fill the void in our lives by being observers to their’s. To a large segment of society those daily doses of celebrity voyeurism serves to feed a craving not unlike doses of heroine to a junkie. We as a society crave to know more because we have for the longest period of time, been given glimpses of these celebrities successes and failures. Some of us relish when their lives are filled happiness and success, taking pride in their accomplishments. Some of us are jealous of them, consider them pampered and spoiled, relishing the fact that they find themselves in trouble or, are acting in conformity with a self-destructive path.

What is happening in the lives of Paris Hilton, Britney Spears, Jen, or Lindsay Lohan? Who is their latest love interest? Where do they party and with whom? What are the latest fashion trends they are setting? What problems have they gotten themselves into most recently? All these questions and more are answered for us even before the questions are asked.

Are these questions answered for us because the media wants to fuel our interest in celebrities’ lives? Or, are they answered for us because the media is merely responding to the demands of the public’s “need to know”? Or, is the media being used as a tool of the celebrity, a means for the celebrity to increase demand for themselves as a commodity that results in their ability to earn ever increasing sums of money that can be used to sustain their life-style?

The media and celebrities have a strange symbiotic relationship. Celebrities go out of their way to garner the spot-light when it is convenient for them and when the headline or photos help to foster their image. Yet, that same celebrity will not hesitate to berate the media when the headline writers and paparazzi portray them in a bad light or invade the privacy the celebrities claim they desire.

This inter-relationship between celebrities and the media is aimed at one audience, the public that fuels both with money. Consequently, it must be argued and I firmly believe that the media is a tool of celebrities that facilitates their “Out of Control” life-styles in an attempt to capitalize on the general public’s tendency to “Celebrity Worship”, a tendency that has recently been classified by degree and personality type in the “Celebrity Attitude Scale”.1

The Celebrity Attitude Scale identifies three (3) personality profiles, “Entertainment-Social” (This dimension comprises attitudes that fans are attracted to a favorite celebrity because of their perceived ability to entertain and become a social focus); “Intense-Personal” (The intense-personal aspect of celebrity worship reflects intensive and compulsive feelings about the celebrity, akin to the obsessional tendencies of fans); and, “Borderline-Pathological” (This dimension is typified by uncontrollable behaviors and fantasies regarding scenarios involving their celebrities).

Whether the medium is print, television or Internet web sites, the media is “banking” on every member of the public to whatever degree, being inflicted with Celebrity Worship and if not already smitten, the media is dedicated to causing those not yet smitten to become so by discovering the latest tidbits that can be converted into breaking news about the lives of celebrities. “Banking” is the appropriate word.

It was in 1957 that American citizens’ obsession with celebrities was fist responsible for attaining gross merchandising revenues that exceeded One Billion Dollars (US$1,000,000,000.00) annually.2 It would be a monumental task to estimate the current gross merchandising revenues generated and numbers of persons that “Celebrity Worship” is directly responsible for employing.

However, it is easy to comprehend that from the scope of the task of writing, photographing, publishing, distributing and selling accounts of celebrities latest adventures on a national and international basis; and, taking into consideration payrolls, travel expenses, advertising revenues, publication and broadcast processes and the sales of merchandise, that the number of persons employed would total into the hundreds of thousands; and, gross revenues would exceed the Gross National Products of many of the world’s nations.

Not only are the media outlets scoring big profits from publicizing the information they obtain about celebrities in order to obtain increased readership and ratings that translate into increased revenue from advertising and magazine sales, so too are the celebrities who are getting rich in the process as their names, likeness and mere presence become a commodity to a hungry public.

By way of example, in 2004 through 2005, Paris Hilton was paid as much as $300,000.00 to attend foreign events, including parties thrown in her honor. During the course of that year, she earned an estimated $6,500,000.00 in personal appearance fees, was mentioned in 17,591 press clips and 592 radio and television shows.3 However, after her release from jail, it was reported but subsequently denied by her publicists, that she was demanding Three Hundred and Fifty Thousand British Pounds (£350,000.00), which is approximately $662,000.00, to appear on a British Radio Show to discuss her prison ordeal.

Likewise, Lindsay Lohan granted Ok Magazine an exclusive interview within 17 hours of checking herself into the Cirque Lodge rehabilitation facility and again, upon returning to Los Angeles following her discharge from the facility. The interview was not motivated merely by a desire to evidence to her fans that she was sincere about changing her life’s direction. Rather, to a great extent, it was motivated by the fees she charged them to publish the exclusive interview and the pictures taken of her with her estranged father.

The media’s coverage of celebrities creates a spiral effect. The more publicity they garner propels them to earn increasing sums of money. The increasing sums of money then allow them to engage in outrageous conduct that garners them more publicity all of which fuels the public’s demand in furtherance of the adage that has now become entrenched in the marketing of celebrities: “there is no such thing as bad press”.

Either because celebrities believe that “there is no such thing as bad press”, or because their lavish life-styles and high profile names make them believe they are beyond suffering the repercussions of their conduct, celebrities have been “Out of Control” in the conduct of their lives and pose a risk of harm to themselves and to others.

Whether their “Out of Control” conduct is the product of attempts by some to keep their names in the public spot-light in what they perceive as a marketing ploy that will inspire, delight and perhaps enlarge their fan base; or, the arrogance that is fueled by their celebrity status, the acts and omissions of some celebrities has in many instances shocked the American conscious. Moreover, to a certain degree, it may have had very strong backlash that is only now being recognized and that may result in some celebrities learning that they need to exert self-control and discipline in their lives.

The masses observe and interact with each other in idle gossip about the lives of celebrities. The masses comment on the unacceptability of these celebrities conduct. Yet, that same society encourages these celebrities’ actions by continuing to pay for the magazines, watching the shows and reading the web site “blogs” perpetuated by the media.

The added publicity then provides positive reinforcement to their unacceptable conduct. Consequently, the general public’s reaction to the media coverage contributes to these celebrities’ downward spiral by “Operant Conditioning”, the psychological theory that positive reinforcement of bad acts will perpetuate bad acts.4

The lives of celebrities take over our world in many ways. We turn on the television the celebrities are there. We go to the market the celebrities are there. We turn on our computer and search them out.

Our societies’ pop culture has turned watching drugged out or drunken, half naked, rich girls into a national past-time. We have to take the time to ask ourselves, are these people desired to be our next generations’ role models? If so, the world is going to be a very scary place. Yet, our consuming dollars elevate them in the hearts and minds of the young who observe their parents and their peers obsessing on the lives of these celebrities.

Through the demand placed by the public for access to more and more information on these celebrities, we are giving these celebrities more opportunity, career success, name recognition, and profit from their own bad behavior. This in turn results in more and more outrageous conduct as they take us to new moral and social lows.

It has often been said by celebrities that they do not want to be role models for our children. Yet, the spot-light that is cast upon them by media attention puts them in that power position. “As tweens [children between the ages of 8 to 12 years] grow up they don’t have a lot of prior knowledge when it comes to lots of situations, and so they look for someone to imitate. […] For tweens this often means the person is someone they want to be like”.5 Since these celebrities are role models nonetheless, should we not let our dollars force them into becoming if not good role models, role models that will not engage in conduct that is reckless to the life and property of others?

This was the message being sent with the incarceration of Paris Hilton; this is the message that awaits Lindsay Lohan now that she has emerged from rehabilitation to face the consequences of her reckless driving while under the influence of controlled substances; and, this is the lessen that has been learned by Brittany Spears, who is now paying one of the most costly of all prices for her conduct, the loss of her children.

As the news of the effects of the harm caused by each of these celebrities reached out to society through the media what was the result? Vehement protests by their ardent fans to how their favorite celebrity was treated; bashing and name calling by those that dislike or are envious of them; and, increased sales of magazines for those that got the “Money Photo”.

Persons with untold wealth can always afford to do what those who do not have such vast amounts of discretionary money cannot afford to do. But we as a society can little afford to support the publications that would flaunt their conduct and make it appear to be acceptable.

A message must be sent to the media, that they are a tool of these celebrities who are using them to gain access to ever increasing sums of wealth. Therefore, if the media will not censor their own publications, then it is necessary for the power of money to do it, by way of boycotting the publications that support these celebrities’ bad acts by providing publicity to them.

Bibliography

1.Maltby, J., Houran, J., Lange, R., Ashe, D., & McCutcheon, L.E. (2002). Thou Shalt Worship No Other Gods – Unless They Are Celebrities. Personality and Individual Differences, 32, 1157-1172.

2.The Teacher Who Lured Celebrities

Paul E. Duffield

Music Educators Journal, Vol. 43, No. 5 (Apr. – May, 1957), p. 80 and 82

3.Forbes Magazine Top 100 Celebrities (2005), Estimates compiled by Forbes; published sources include Billboard, Pollstar, Adams Media Research, Publishers Weekly and Nielsen SoundScan. Press clips compiled by LexisNexis; TV/radio mentions compiled by Factiva.

4.Ferster, C. B., & Skinner, B. F. (1957). Schedules of reinforcement. New York: Appleton-Century-Crofts.

5.Adapted from National Institute of Child Health & Human Development (2003). Modeling your own behavior to provide a consistent, positive example for your child. Washington, DC: National Institutes of Health. Penn State Cooperative Extension, Pike County, Tween Topics (2003)