Elizabeth Currid-Halkett's Starstruck: The Business of Celebrity gave very interesting insights into how today's media is affecting American society and changing values. What stands out to me most in this book is the idea of the celebrity residual. Celebrity residual is a star's undeserved fame. The public cares about a star's personal life and the everyday aspects of their life. We are obsessed with what they are doing, what they are eating, what they are wearing, where they are going, rather than with their talents and abilities. It seems like popularity can be a talent all in its own. Take reality television as an example. People like the Kardashians, the Jersey Shore cast, and the Teen Mom cast exhibit no extraordinary talents. However, society still looks at them as stars, and follows their every move. These people are stars using nothing but celebrity residual. What worries me about this phenomenon is the effect on today's youth. Stars are role models for children and adolescents. When people can become stars without having made any accomplishments, what does that say to children? I think it relays the message that you don't need to contribute to society or have any accomplishments in order to be successful or important. Using the example of Teen Mom, there were high school girls across the country who became pregnant in an attempt to be more like the cast of this reality show. While it may seem silly to an adult to want to be like someone on Teen Mom or Jersey Shore, it is not silly to adolescents to look up to these stars. I believe these shows are sending the wrong messages to youth and that we as teachers need to be aware of the celebrities that our students idolize. Who these students idolize can tell us a lot about our class, their values, and aspirations.
Discussion Questions #8:
People enjoy sharing cultural experiences. It enables us to have commonalities with others, make friends, establish taste, and build social networks.Discussing celebrity is one thing that people have as a common 'cultural experience'. Celebrity permeates society and it generates billions of dollars a year. However, many people look at celebrity as frivolous and celebrity has not been examined seriously or judged to be a significant part of society. Do you agree with Currid-Halkett that celebrity should be taken seriously as a part of modern culture and be studied in depth, or do you believe it is frivolous?
I think celebrity, as far as celebrity residual, should be frivolous. However, I know that it is a major part of American culture. No matter where you go you are bombarded by celebrity. On the internet, on the television, at line in the grocery store. I find even myself sometimes thinking when making a purchase, "Oh, that's the one with Beyonce in the commercial, it must be good." People look up to celebrities and want to be like them, it is important that we as a society understand the effect celebrity has on us and how it changes the way we interact with each other and make important decisions. I see an extension of the "keeping up with the Jones" mentality, except now the Jones's are movie stars.