Impossible to completely overemphasize how central a role media plays towards facilitating, triggering albeit producing famous people.
Brings them to the fore
Clive James, an Australian writer, seems to agree.
In his book ‘Fame in the 20th Century’ he contends that true fame was almost unknown before the 20th century because of a lack of global mass media.
He calls Charlie Chaplin the first truly world-famous 20th century celebrity due to the universal impact of his films in the 1910s and beyond.
Therefore it is safe to say, the rise of internationally famous people in areas such as acting and popular music is largely a factor of the massive scope and scale of the media industries, which enables them to be viewed more often and in more places.
However, nowadays, a phenomenon has arisen whereby people do not have to do extraordinary things to be famous.
For instance, some professions naturally produce famous people. Examples are the worlds of music, business, acting (especially TV and movies), modeling, mainstream sports or simply by being highly paid.
There are also cases where one does almost absolutely nothing and still hits stardom. They become public persons just by being persons in the public
In his article ‘The new stardom that doesn’t require paying any dues,’ Bob Green argues that for most of man’s history people of talent would work to create something e.g. write something or paint something and then it would be passed on to audiences.
However, he argues, that with the rise of reality TV shows, audiences have been turned into the creators.
The alleged stars of the reality shows “Survivor” and “Big Brother” have become famous not for doing, but merely for being, he states.
That for you is the power of the media.
As much as media propels people to fame, it has also been termed as a curse.
According to researcher Susan Peters, “almost every form of media, including television, newspapers and magazines, pay a great deal of attention to the personal lives of famous people. It seems that the public cannot get enough of this kind of news.”
She continues to say that the media have a responsibility to present a balanced view of the world, as well as respect the lives of public figures.
Though there are laws that protect the privacy of individuals there are still lots of intrusions.
It appears that some media houses have made it their business to ‘disrespect’ the private lives of public figures as it has proved to be big business.
This can be clearly seen in the exponential growth of celebrity magazines, tabloid papers and gossip dedicated channels.
Gemma Wiseman in her article, ‘Why Celebrities are Getting so much Media Attention,’ explains why the Media love picking on the downsides of famous people.
“They always go for the quick sell. They would rather skip Oprah Winfrey’s $ 50 million adoption of a whole village in Africa but not miss Madonna’s adoption of a Malawian child.”
In the latter it is obvious they could suggest Madonna is reinventing the old colonial African slave trade.
She continues to say that for media houses, reporting success stories often requires a lot of research and time but it is far easier to find the failures of the famous people.
“The media waits for failures…failures of stars excite public senses”, she says. And of course that sells.
When media houses are accused of breaching privacy laws they usually respond by saying that these people are public figures and so the public have a right to know.
They go on and offer the explanation that if, for instance, political figures are appointed by the public, therefore paid by the public, spend public money have the right to defame anyone who defames the sanctity of their offices.
In return, media says they should also hold themselves in a higher code. The same goes for others who use media to rise and are often in the news.
They should be held in higher esteem and this calls for closer scrutiny, they submit.
This view seems to have some strength as it is the case that few defamation cases end up successful.
In conclusion, it is in the best interest of people in the public eye to learn how media operates if at all they want to live decently with their fame.