Are the 2010s the Last Decade of Celebrity Worship?
In the 2010s, social media gave everyone the chance to be famous. The human/brand hybrids referred to as "influencers" amassed millions of followers on YouTube and Instagram by telling us how to look, how to eat and how to find happiness. But even mere mortals got to experience widespread approval with Facebook likes, Instagram followers and retweets. So what happened to celebrities?
Don’t get me wrong; celebrity fandom was still in full effect. Blogs posted paparazzi pics of the famous walking down red carpets and to court dates. Records were broken by athletes, tween pop stars and reality TV royalty for having the most followers online. And "stan" accounts flooded journalists’ email inboxes if they dared to criticize their favorite stars. But change was in the air.
The age of the untouchable celebrity was coming to a close. Documentaries, cancel culture and independent journalism exposed many notable ne’er-do-wells for their behavior. We also broadened our tastes with streaming services that provided endless numbers of programs with actors from all walks of life. So who will we pay attention to in the 2020s? The answer is complicated. Social media threw celebrity culture off course for sure. But as our old idea of celebrity may be waning, the next wave has the danger of going full-tilt Andy Warhol.
More Content Than Ever Before
In the 19th century, the newspaper was in control of spreading the news, so people had to game the system to stay relevant. Oscar Wilde, the eccentric playwright and poet, was adored in the papers thanks to his flamboyant behavior and style. The same goes for French actress Sarah Bernhardt, who knew how to make headlines by working with editors to stage bizarre photoshoots like posing from inside a coffin. Trust me, it was quite the scandal in 1879.
Being Famous Was Easier Than Ever
Traditional media aside, YouTube, Vine and Instagram let fame seekers and influencers post their own content for the world to discover. The internet equaled the playing field for common people and celebs through social media. Was it worth it to follow your favorite celebs on TikTok? Why bother, when you can join the millions of people who can’t get enough of a 16-year-old waiter from New Jersey who posts clips of himself dancing in his bathroom mirror.
The Decade of Accountability
In the Golden Age of Hollywood, celebrities were looked upon as god-like creatures. They were idolized for their beauty and good behavior. In reality, they had really good publicists and hid from the public whenever necessary. That’s because the public’s approval can easily sway with just one story. Oscar Wilde, once beloved for his colorful self-expression, faced public scrutiny and ridicule after being arrested for "gross indecency."
Is Celebrity Worship Over?
So what will happen to celebrities in 2020? Are we done lifting people up to a celebrity-worship status where they can do as they please? We’re consuming content that speaks to individuals more and uniting less for once-universally engaging events. No real trendsetters dictate the entire cultural conversation anymore, so we may be moving away from the age of celebrity worship. People simply don’t have the luxury of time to distract themselves with celebrity culture and fandom.