Not quite like this. It’s true that since the invention of the dream factory known as Hollywood, our culture has placed a HUGE emphasis on fame and celebrity. But until roughly the turn of the millennium, fame and celebrity were considered rarified air, unattainable, reserved for a chosen few. But with the explosion of reality television, the democratization of computer technology, and the tidal wave of social media, celebrity went from being impossible to something within reach. Over the past 15 years, rapidly evolving technology and a dynamic culture shift, turned fame from a commodity once bestowed by the media to a commodity there for the taking (or at least the developing).
Where’s the evidence? Snookie from Jersey Shore, The Kardashians, and Paris Hilton (remember “that’s so hot..”???) parlayed reality television shows into Twitter fame and some income. Two decades ago celebrity mostly derived from some ability, acting, singing, and athletics. Now talent is no longer an absolute requirement. In this democratic world of the web, all you need to to do is have a little marketing savvy, possibly some wit, a willingness to bare some flesh on Instagram and voila. It’s not that talent is actively discouraged. Shows including the X Factor and America’s Next Top Model have offered those with real talent a quick stepping-stone into the world of fame – with no guarantee of staying there. Writers, musicians and visual artists are now using their online presence to build notoriety. Justin Bieber was discovered via YouTube. Models are now being hired based on Instagram pictures. Perez Hilton became a millionaire through his gossip blog (ironically using the very tools employed to exploit the fame of others). Furthermore, personalities such as Tyler Oakley, Hannah Hart, and Grace Helbig began their careers creating simple YouTube videos of themselves discussing random topics and their opinions. Hart now has a book deal, Oakley works with ET and other celebrity based companies, while Helbig has launched a successful comedy career. They were all noticed by Hollywood solely based on their huge YouTube and other social media followings. So fame is now a commodity worth chasing and young people have not only realized this, they are using social media to their advantage in the fame game.