The pop artist Andy Warhol once said that in the future everyone would be famous for 15 minutes. Now it seems that the future has arrived: reality TV stars, rappers, chefs, and minor sports players now qualify for celebrity status. Celebs or slebs (to give them their slightly disparaging but affectionate moniker) range from A-list to Z-list, but anyone can dream of enjoying the celebrity lifestyle, even without an invitation to a red-carpet event or black-tie party.
The accoutrements of the super-wealthy are truly eye-catching: mansions in Malibu and Mallorca, complete with infinity pools, private jets, couture gowns, and children adopted from unexpected places. These all require serious money, not just celebrity, and B-listers, as well as non-celebrities like you and I, may have to make do with rather less extravagance. Still, the cult of celebrity requires everyone to at least try to make it big, whether by entering a TV talent show or being snapped up by a modelling agency scout.
Celebrities need to develop a symbiotic relationship with the media. Magazines like Hello allow them to invite their fans and followers into their homes, letting them think that some of the celebrity glamour and glitter might rub off on them. Slebs may complain about the intrusiveness of the paps (paparazzi), but if a day went past without them getting papped, that would be cause for concern. In return for the oxygen that exposure in the celebrity mags and tabloids provides, A-listers help boost circulation figures, and we are all guilty of encouraging this by buying or at least reading the scoops.
As a result of this exposure, we feel that we know our celebs almost as friends, which puts them in an excellent position to sell us stuff by working in advertising (the Beckhams) or by producing their own product ranges (the Beckhams again). Those who have been around for a while, i.e. more than 15 minutes, are hailed as national treasures, and can make fortunes by doing celebrity endorsements.
But the latest media must-have for any self-respecting celebrity is a celebrity lifestyle website, usually ghosted on behalf of the celebrity in question. Celebrity websites, like Gwynneth Paltrow’s Goop, may promote world peace, cosmetic surgery procedures, and detoxing products, but their main function is to promote “the brand” – i.e. their own career – in a desperate effort to prolong those 15 minutes for as long as possible.