By Charles Alexander Moffat
What does it take to become famous? These days it seems as though you would have to be a movie, television or music star. Just look at this list of names and see how many you recognize as actors or musicians (including known aliases of specific acting roles):
Alyssa Milano, Andrea Thompson, Angelia Jolie, Anna Kournikova, Backstreet Boys, Blink-182, Brad Pitt, Bradley Chait, Britney Spears, Brooke Burke, Bruce Lee, Carmen Electra, Christina Aguilera, Chyna, Cindy Crawford, Cindy Margolis, Claire Swire, Dale Earnhardt, Darva Conger, David Blaine, Dean Kamen, Denise Richards, Destiny's Child, Dr. Dree, Eminem, Geena Davis, Halle Berry, Hannibal, Harrison Ford, Harry Potter, Howard Stern, Ian Thorpe, Jennifer Lopez, Jennifer Love Hewitt, Jessica Alba, Joey Ramone, Justin Timberlake, Kid Rock, Lara Croft, Leonardo Di Caprio, Limp Bizkit, Madonna, Mariah Carey, Martha Stewart, Metallica, Michael Jordan, N Sync, Nicole Kidman, Niki Taylor, Oprah Winfrey, Osama bin Laden, Pamela Anderson, Paris Hilton, Paula Jones, Penelope Cruz, Ralph Nader, Ricky Martin, Robert Blake, Russell Crowe, Sable, Sean Connery, Shania Twain, Shannon Elisabeth, Spice Girls, Stephen King, Tatiana Grigorieva, Tenchi Muyo, The Simpsons, Zelda.
Some of these names you'll notice aren't even real people (ie. Zelda or the Simpsons), and yet the Simpsons and Zelda are basically famous celebrities. The names above came up on the top 500 keywords used in search engines online. That proves they're famous insofar as this website is concerned.
Yet what made these people famous? Was it their talent, their popularity? Did their name hold any significance? As Shakespeare wrote, "What's in a name?"
Lets give for example Stephen King, who wrote under the pseudonyms "Richard Bachman" and "John Swithen". Why did he write under those names? He wanted to find out if people were buying his books just because of his name. Also, he wanted to write something other than horror. He wrote Rage (1977), The Long Walk (1979), Road Work (1981), The Running Man (1982), and Thinner (1984) all under the guise of Richard Bachman. The Running Man was later made into a movie, but in contrast the name "Richard Bachman" just doesn't seem to attract an audience the same way "Stephen King" does.
Name aside, there is also the sex appeal. Stephen King's books regularly ripple with sex, swearing and naughty bits. Many of the men & women listed above would quickly be described as "sexy".
And as we all know, sex sells.
Apparently sex also makes you famous.
Lets take Pamela Anderson (also called Pamela Anderson Lee) as a prime example: She became famous when she was noticed on the bigscreen at a football game wearing a beer shirt and was almost immediately offered a modelling contract for Labatt Beer. She later modelled in PlayBoy Magazine in 1989 and was on Baywatch from 1992 to 1997. The "Babewatch" role shot her to fame. She also became a porn icon when her homemade porn was leaked on the internet.
Lets stop and give another example: Paris Hilton made her own porn tape which was "leaked" on the internet. She isn't famous or a celebrity for any acting experience. She's just a rich bitch who made a porn tape and hardly worthy of attention if it wasn't for the fact she's also anorexic and has had her breasts "enhanced", and because she's the ideal rich blonde slut. She has no singing or acting talent whatsoever (despite attempts at both), although she did have a brief modelling career.
Harrison Ford in comparison shot to fame with his acting in the original Star Wars series, followed by his role as Indiana Jones and countless movies since then. Once described as a bit of a "ham actor" Ford nevertheless deserves his fame due to constant improvements on his acting skills and quite frankly, he just gets better with age. Yes, he was sexy in his youth (still sexy by some people's standards) but he's not 'blindingly handsome' either (like Brad Pitt is). Slightly above average really.
This shows there is a different scale for men and women with regards to fame. Women tend to be judged by looks whereas men tend to be judged by skill. In other words, Women = Art & Men = Tool.
Lets stop and look at some exceptions: Martha Stewart and Oprah Winfrey aren't famous for their sex appeal (quite the opposite). They're famous for their tv celebrity. Neither one is a real actor and neither one has starred in a single movie. Yet they are still ridiculously famous for their sheer popularity (and all the stuff they sell). Thats the real part of their deal. They sell products through their shows to the people watching them. Just mention a good product on The Oprah Winfrey Show and stocks for the company that makes the product instantly goes up. Small surprise, many of those companies are helping to pay for the show. Its product placement at its finest because the people watching the show don't even realize they are being pitched to. And with all that extra money pouring into their pockets they can afford to spend more on advertising the show and increasing popularity and profits.
If you go to store and see the name Martha Stewart on a product you've just been pitched to. The product is suddenly a brandname product, even if you've never seen it on an advertisement before. It the old days we used to advertise products in tv commercials until you had "Buy Mennon" coming out your ass. These days they are being more sneaky about it by convincing you to watch a tv show and then sneaking the products into the show without you realizing it.
On to our next topic, "hasbeens".
Britney Spears is a hasbeen. She was famous and technically still is famous thanks to the tabloids. But now she is basically retired from singing. Once she started making pregnant porn her career went down the toilet. She has tried to make a comeback tour, but she just doesn't have the sex appeal anymore. Too many cigarettes and heavy drinking have made her look like a skanky slut (because she is one).
Eventually hasbeens fade into the background (just like Mark Hamill did, the actor who played Luke Skywalker in the original Star Wars series). Mark Hamill is also an excellent example of an actor who may yet make a comeback. There are rumours circulating that George Lucas may release a new trilogy of movies set in the post-empire period. The new movies would focus on Luke Skywalking (played by a much older Mark Hamill returning to acting) falling into the darkside while attempting to defeat the resurrected Palpatine (he fell in the hole, but he didn't die), the New Jedi Order and Yuuzhan Vong Invasion. Likewise hasbeen actor Carrie Fisher would also be returning to the role as Princess Leia. Rumours abound as to whether Harrison Ford would actually return to the role.
Which brings us to a new topic: Who is the prime minister of Canada?
Well, maybe you are Canadian and you know. Maybe you pay attention to the news and know such a fundamental thing. Can you also name the current president of the United States or the secretary general of the United Nations? How about the presidents of Russia, China or France?
Which begs the question, why are entertainment celebrities more famous than political figures? Why is "Osama bin Laden" one of the few political figures who is regularly a search word (insofar as the top 500 commonly searched keywords is concerned)?
Point of Fact: Arnold Schwarzenegger didn't make the top 500 search word list. Could it be because he no longer makes movies and just got elected for a 2nd term in office as governor of California? Looks like he might not be in Terminator IV at all. Unless its just a bit role. Frankly the economy and social issues of California is much more important than any movie he could ever make.
George W. Bush didn't make the top 500 either. Britney Spears is apparently more famous. Or is she? If I type Britney Spears into a Google search there is 22,700,000 results. George W. Bush does have more results (62,000,000) but not as many people are actually looking for him.
Probably because the vast majority of the world hates Bush (the politician that is, not the Canadian rock band).
Lets stop and compare some actors and their Google results:
Actually, give me a moment while I check my own name:
Charles Moffat 880,000
Wow. According to Google I am almost as famous as Mark Hamill.
Lets be more specific by using my full name (Charles Alexander Moffat) and put quotations around it... nope, only 9,930 hits. Mark Hamill is still more famous lowly old me. I would have to be 20 times more popular than I currently am to rank as famous as he. And 60 times to be as famous as Harrison Ford.
Although how realistic is that? We can't really "measure" fame. There is no scale or chart to use. No precise methods.
So even I did direct or act in some movies, how would I really become famous? Exactly what does it take to become an household name? Apparently being a politician won't do it.
Being a business success won't work either. Bill Gates didn't make the top 500 list either. (But he does get 34,000,000 hits if you do a Google search.)
In theory you don't even have to be real to become famous (The Simpsons get 20,400,000 hits and aren't even a real family).
If we stop and compare the most popular search words of all (ignoring celebrity names) we find that words like women, sex, breast, tit, lolita, teen and so on come up regularly. This is an obvious connection to the issue of sex selling a product. The inclusion of words like lolita and teen suggest that underage sex also seems to sell a product. Small surprise, a large percentage of internet users are between 13 and 19 years old (12 million in the USA alone [2004 Statistic]), which you'd think would hopefully be the people typing in "teen".
But they aren't the largest age group, to which the honour goes to the 35-44 age group which claims 19 million users in the USA alone [2004 Statistic] . The lowest percentage in contrast is the over 70 crowd, in which less than 26% of people over 70 have ever been online [2005 Statistic].
So the bulk of users are not teenagers. The vast majority of people seems to be in the 20-44 age groups, which means they are the ones looking for underage sex/porn.
And likewise, they are also the ones looking for celebrities. Notice how Elvis, Marilyn Monroe and Frank Sinatra didn't make the top 500 list. They're probably not even in the top 2000. And mostly because they're from a different era and a different age group that would be interested in them. The fact that they're all dead doesn't help either (Frank Sinatra died in May 1998).
So famous doesn't always mean popular. And popularity doesn't immediately mean famous either. But the idea of "celebrity" implies a person who is both famous and popular. A person's celebrity status means the must be popular, famous, always new/different and never boring.
Which brings me to the creme de la creme: Madonna.
Madonna (Madonna Louise Ciccone) is so famous we know her by her first name alone (like Cher, but more famous). Madonna is always reinventing herself, her look and her music. She rose to fame in 1982 and for 24 years has been changing her look, her hair and almost everything about her. She has starred in a platoon of movies, cameos galore, appeared in PlayBoy Magazine AND Penthouse Magazine (one of very few people to ever be in both).
She became an instant sex symbol back in 1982 and her "Marilyn Monroe-ish" good looks only helped her along the way. She kissed Britney Spears and Christina Aguilera and has the longevity and staying power that even Sean Connery would envy. Even her name "Madonna" is synonymous with the Virgin Mary (technically Madonna is a medieval Italian term for "important woman") and thus brings together religious and sexual aspects in her name.
And her Google hits? 62,700,000. Almost three times more popular than the hasbeen Britney Spears. She's more famous than George W. Bush by that method of measurement.
In our modern day and age it has actually become important to have the ability to measure fame. If you put the words "lolita" and "sex" on your website you are likely to get anywhere from double to ten times (maybe more!) the number of hits of a website that doesn't have those two words on it (regardless of what the actual site is about). The combination of the two words "lolita sex" is probably enough to drive this website itself.
That said, lets look at that list again and look at those names which people could be searching for when in reality what they really want is sex (with a woman):
Notice the sheer number of young women on the list? (Thankfully the vast majority of them are over 18.) Some of them are older fashion models/celebrities (ie. Cindy Crawford and Madonna), but otherwise most of them are relatively young. Quite a few have also has had breasts implants or plastic surgery (another way to boost popularity by being in the tabloids). Whatever, this just proves my point:
Sex sells and so does the names of young female celebrities.
A person may not be typing in "lolita" or "sex", but when they type in Britney Spears we know what they are really looking for. Britney Naked.
Celebrity status? Its all just a matter of selling a product, and the primary product seems to be sex.