“Because when everyone’s super… No one will be”
This was like my favorite line from The Incredibles and it came from the antagonist, Syndrome. I’ve always rooted for the “villain” because when the audience sifts through their methods, their message usually has some validity.
The point he was making was, when everyone has superpowers, technically speaking, no one is really that super. Now, take that train of thought and apply it to the status of celebrities in today’s world and we realize is that term is more loose than ever.
The gap between celebrities and non-celebrities has shrunk so much that we’re at a point where we really can’t define the word “famous anymore.” And who’s to blame?
Social f*cking media.
To be fair, we didn’t arrive at this point strictly because of Friendster and Myspace, it actually started with the boom of reality television all the way back in the 99 and the 2000s (iykyk). Shows like American Idol, Real World, Making the Band and Flava of Love showed the world what could happen if you put a camera in front of “regular” people and let it run.
These shows gave their audience the live-action climb, fall, and timely aneurysms of the people we all would come to call celebrities, even if they weren’t the last contestant standing. The idea was to set the show up as a democracy and through a series of elimination, the audience would choose a single,polished candidate to hoist into stardom.
That shit failed like Fyre fest. What really happened was whoever was the most entertaining became the crowd’s favorite and TV companies quickly noticed what I call ‘The NWA Effect’ (just made that up btw): It really doesn’t matter if they’re for or against you, if they’re tuned in, the checks will clear.
The best example of this is New York from Flava of Love. She didn’t win the show’s prize which was a 40-plus-year-old Flava Flav. What she did win was the attention of anyone who watched, spoke on or made an inquiry about the show.
She did this so well that she was, not only brought back for several seasons, but ultimately got her own spin-off called ‘I Love New York’ where SHE was the prize. The real kicker of all of this madness was where people were going to discuss it: Myspace and Facebook.
These two sites effortlessly brought discussion like celebrity gossip, politics, music and really anything that people deemed conversation-worthy to a place where all of us could have input.
It essentially took the term “blogger” and applied it to anyone who had an email address and internet access. MySpace’s ‘Top Friends’ feature showed us who people(publicly)wanted to flaunt their relationships with, the same way tabloids would relay that info through frequent sightings of two celebrities together.
Facebook was quietly the most intimate things social media offered because it showed you people’s likes, dislikes, interests, and real-time life updates. It was a close as you could get to walking into someone’s bedroom, before Facetime.
A lot of people say one of the biggest reasons Barack Obama won his first election was his campaign’s use of social media, which allowed them to win over a younger audience. Myspace declined due to the growth of Facebook, then Twitter came and ironically enough, it wasn’t immediately accepted…because of the name.
It was deemed to be quirky and was too condensed to illustrate anyone’s entire point. Ain’t that some shit? A little over 10 years ago people were actually complaining that 140 characters weren’t enough.
But anyway, as time went on, the relaxed feel of Twitter began to win people over. The fast-paced, debate inviting platform did to “journalist” what Myspace and Facebook did to the term “blogger.”
It became a world where even religious opinions and political views were no longer taboo but more importantly, unilateral between the media and consumers. People used Twitter for every discussion and its limited characters piggybacked on people’s shrinking attention span, making it the go-to for real-time news.
And when Twitter and Facebook seemed to fight for the spotlight, the most digestible form of media made one of the fastest push for attention-dominance the world had ever seen.
Instagram seemed to be the last piece of the puzzle.
The platform that gave us pictures and 1000 words(if needed) at the same time made it the easiest addiction of the three for a younger, pace conscious generation. Instagram basically became as a self-publishing paparazzi firm that tabloid’s reach depended on how many followers a person has. But when the “story” concept from Snapchat got introduced on Instagram, it was over.
The ability to show pictures and video 24 hrs a day combined with the dopamine targeted like-button made any and everything FOMO worthy. But there’s always that lingering question: what’s going to be the long term effect of this influx of accessibility.
Nipsey Hussle was quoted saying, “this technology is empowering everybody, it’s like a gold rush. This is our generation’s version of the gold rush” and he’s absolutely right. Every generation leaves a positive and a negative footprint on its way out of the door.
The Baby Boomers, on one hand, gave us the industrial boom, and on the other we see the health effects of ripple through the latter part of Generation X and a huge portion of Millennials.
So with this new, seemingly connected, information-rich world growing smaller and smaller the two questions we got to ask ourselves is: what’s going to be the repercussions of a generation raised in stardom and most importantly, what’s next?