The introduction to this series is here.
This post looks at Celebrity.
What is a celebrity? The SOED defines it thus: A celebrated person; a (popular) public figure.
Everybody from the latest moronic fool in some dreadful ‘reality’ TV show to the most well-known and talented performer in any field comes under the umbrella title of ‘celebrity’.
Do they matter, and, if so, why? The media, in all its various forms, feeds off the popularity or notoriety of celebrities; these people make money for such outlets. They are seen as a valuable commodity, something to be used for profit. They are also grabbed by certain ‘causes’ as a means of gaining publicity for all sorts of aims from increasing literacy to curing cancer.
As to why they matter, that’s mostly a question of influence and even power. We live in a lunatic world where a failed reality show presenter can gain the most important post in the world of politics, where a person can influence millions simply because of a skill at kicking a ball, where an individual can talk with, and influence, the powerful simply because they have been blessed with certain types of physical appearance.
Yes, the whole set-up is superficial and idiotic, but it exists and it causes otherwise sensible people to change their minds, support outlandish cults, and even take up arms in the name of false claims.
There has been a minor blip in the influence of celebrity in some countries due to the Covid pandemic and the idiocy of some of their pronouncements. But you can bet your life that interruption will last no longer than the pandemic itself. Once vaccination and other means have reduced infection and death rates to a level seen as tolerable, the celebrities will be back out there spouting their ill-considered opinions on any topic they think will gain them attention.
So, if you’re including these people in your story set in the future, what might you have to consider? What might change in the years, decades, centuries, millennia into which your story ventures?
Will influence be altered by the internet, even more than currently happens? Will changes in the world’s financial system, caused by the need to reduce inequality to save the environment, make it more difficult for certain types of celebrity to gain power? Will the proliferation of TV and other entertainment channels so fracture and spread audiences that every ‘celebrity’ will be minor except in the circles occupied by their dedicated fans?
Will the world be ruled by more celebrities as heads of state, and what effect will such political selection have on society? Perhaps fame will become more important than intelligence and talent (as it is already is in certain arenas) and resulting advice and decisions will cause mass injury or death to followers (Cults have previously failed due to such activity, after all). Will it become even more ‘fashionable’ for certain types to follow their heroes and make even more stupid choices as a result?
These are some suggestions I make for consideration if you’re including the idea of celebrity in your story. I’m sure you can think of many more. Please feel free to let us know your ideas, using the comment space below the post.
Part 1, Introduction and Accommodation. Part 2, Activism. Part 3, Advertising. Part 4, Agriculture. Part 5, Artificial Intelligence. Part 6, Animals, as Pets. Part 7, Art. Part 8, Authority. Part 9, Banking. Part 10, Beauty. Part 11, Blasphemy. Part 12, Business. Part 13, Capitalism. Part 14, Cars.