The Celebrity Adjustment


I saw the preview for a new show on the food network called “Rachel VS Guy Celebrity Cook off.” It has a cool little hook: Rachel Ray - a food enthusiast and in some ways a mini Oprah goes head to head against Guy Fieri - best known for having a horrible hair color that works on him, and also a NY Times best seller. Both Rachel and Guy have their teams duel by cooking, pretty simple, right?

Rachel’s team consists of: Herself, Aaron Carter, Summer Sanders, Lou Diamond Phillips, and Taylor Dayne.

Guy’s team consists of: Himself, Cheech Marin, Joey Fatone, Coolio, and Alyssa Campanella.

All seems reality show standard in the team VS team format, right? Yes, but something’s off... Oh right, the “celebrity” aspect of it. It took me a minute to swallow that the players on these teams are considered celebrities. In my world the viable celebrities on this show are: Fatone, Phillips, Cheech, and give or take Coolio. I honestly didn’t even know who Campanella was, and the only way I identified her is because she was actually wearing her “Miss USA” sash.

Not that I’m trying to take anything away from any of these people because they’ve obviously worked to get where they are, but seeing them sparked a thought process which has also been a topic of conversation for far too long. I think I have been confused with what exactly a celebrity is and where “celebrity” is going.

On a general ground rule I once associated celebrities as someone you’d know by face (that you don’t personally know). Someone that you don’t have to say “Oh that’s the person from…” At least that’s what it used to be. As cable grew it became impossible to keep up with viable actors from different shows, and the same goes for musicians. Over time a few adjustments to the celebrity rule came into place and I left some wiggle room as to which I associated with celebrity. Then as online videos grew the rule changed even more and we started to have “internet celebrities.”

As new celebrities in different mediums popped up along the way the allure and illusion of celebrity has all but faded. We once looked at someone and wanted to know what they’re doing at all times, and wondered what their lives could possibly be like. But now we have so many shows, magazines, and social networking platforms bringing us together that a peek into the lives of a actor is turning into more than just a peek, we’re being completely welcomed into their personal garbage that soon they’re “just like us.”

I personally love the openness that we currently have. The beauty of it is that we could all avoid it if we wanted too but we don’t. Celebrities have the option not to have Twitter feeds or make sex tapes, but they still do: And rightfully so – it helps their personal brand.

My issue with all of this is the lines that have been blurred into what a celebrity is. There is no fucking way I can associate Clooney and Aaron Carter both as celebrities. But maybe I have too? I looked into the definition of celebrity to be one of those annoying people who needs specifics and this is what gave me:  A famous or well known person.

I need something more. This is what Wikipedia gave me:  A person who has a prominent profile and commands a great degree of public fascination and influence in day-to-day media.

By these definitional standards an argument could be made that anyone who has influence on the Web is a celebrity and team Rachel Ray is in fact built with celebrities. But it leads me to ask - Why is it that we have an unspoken understanding of celebrity value? I feel that if you’re a celebrity than you’re a celebrity… How have we come to various degrees of how famous you are?  If you’re scratching at the heels to barely be identified as a celebrity, shouldn’t that tell you something?

Should celebrity be measured by influence? Exposure? Talent?

An adjustment is coming – it has too. In an industry with so many labels we’re going to get to a point where you’re going to be labeled for what you are. If you’re a celebrity in your particular medium than that’s how you’ll be labeled: Movie celebrity, TV celebrity, Internet celebrity, Writing celebrity, Reality celebrity…. There are just too many transparencies in the world to not get to this point at some time.

Until any celebrity adjustment comes we should all enjoy our celebrity reality shows and the reality shows that create celebrities. Enjoy this time now because soon we’re all going to be blended together and to truly be a celebrity you’ll really need to stand out. We’re in the 2nd golden age of celebrity.

*** Didn’t mean to pick on Rachel and Guy, the show seems entertaining.