Thursday, 6 September 2012

Interesting Celebrity Gossip?.... or Just A Slow News Day?

To me celebrities are actors, singers, athletes or personalities who’ve achieved something or possess certain skills, they are (or should be) people that we aspire to, respect, admire and try to emulate.
Elizabeth Taylor and Audrey Hepburn
Celebrities from the past
However Bell, (2009) suggests that the modern idea of celebrity has changed ‘from a person with merit, to one of manufacture’ and states that “celebrity, as a term, is multi-faceted” (2009:2) and not easily defined or stated. Rather ‘celebrity’ and fame are not the same thing; “they are interrelated, and occasionally coexistent, but not necessarily interchangeable” (Bell, 2009: 2). 
 So when a person appears on a 'reality' TV show, is scandalous, rich, related to someone famous, sleeps with someone famous, or simply for doing nothing - we tend to them on a pedestal - and in the spotlight, which I find, says a lot about our culture. 
Snooki, Paris Hilton and The Kardashians
It’s incorrect to suggest that we genuinely care about people like Kim Kardashian, Paris Hilton or Snookie. Rather, we simply live in a world where having news streamed to us 24 hours a day is standard, and (strangely so), interesting ‘news worthy’ stuff doesn’t happen all the time.
We want to know everything about everyone and Marshall, (2010) suggests the lines between public and private lives of celebrities are becoming blurred. We therefore have become a culture where if no news is available we make the news from those we consider ‘celebrities’ – whether it’s babies, boob jobs, marriages, divorces, sex tapes and other various scandals.
Besides, who better to follow around than people with too much time on their hands and more money than sense...? ‘Celebrities’ of course!

Bell, C E 2010, 'American idolatry: Celebrity, commodity, and reality television', 70 thesis, ProQuest Information & Learning, <online link>
Marshall, D P 2010, 'The Specular Economy', Society, vol. 47, no. 6, pp. 498-502.

Wednesday, 5 September 2012

Dystopia and Disapora

Forms of dystopia are often presented in various areas of media and art. This idea is regularly depicted in movies and novels, yet we don't seem to take any notice of it. Orwell discussed such fears in Nineteen Eighty Four where ideas like 'Big Brother', our disappearing freedom, constant surveillance and contradictory beliefs such as "War is Peace- Freedom is Slavery" were created (Orwell, 1949), - many ideas that have come true in recent years. More recent examples include the following clip from Disney Pixar movie Wall E, which depicts a future where we have had to leave earth because we've quite literally made a mess of it.

These ideas of art imitating life (or vice versa in Orwell) may just represent the Dystopia many of us hope to never happen. The consumerist, selfish and oblivious people that are represented in the above video (while they're an exaggeration) are similar to what we see in our own culture today. We aim to be individualistic, as is common in western culture, yet we still all want to act/look/be the same. 
We have a distorted view of beauty and will pay a fortune just to be like everyone else. Even the concept of 'reality' television is a fake, scripted and tacky representation of how we should be, not what we are.
Heidi Montag from reality show Laguna Beach -
Before and after her extensive plastic surgery
Our culture (namely Western culture) is self-interested and obsessed with appearance, image and how we represent ourselves to one another. While some are concerned with losing our ‘national identity’ through Diaspora and Globalisation – I believe that perhaps we should consider that this may be a good thing. Hopefully it’ll change our perspectives and create a better and more meaningful culture than the one we currently find ourselves in.

Orwell, G 1949, 'Nineteen Eighty-Four', New York. Harcourt, Brace & Co.