Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Fame Junkies (copy)

While attending school in the early years of 2000, I frequently lunched with a vivacious group of would-be librarians. Our conversations would evolve around school, grades, families, and celebrities. The celebrity talk came mostly from a twenty-something who brought her People or Entertainment Weekly to lunch.

At first I considered the celebrity talk a little odd. Here we were, soon to be professional information retrievers, and we were discussing the worst dressed at the academy awards. Instead of discussing metadata retrieval or authoritative websites, we were wondering who Nicole Kidman was dating. How odd right?

Not really. Between 2000 and 2005, circulation of major news magazines such as Time and Newsweek only increased by 2%. Celebrity magazines enjoyed a boom as sales increased 18.7%, according to Ruth McFarland of Bacon Information.

Another interesting poll, conducted jointly by Boston and Babson Colleges, asked 653 Rochester, New York, middle school students out of a list of famous people who would they most like to have dinner with. George W. Bush and Albert Einstein received 2.7 and 3.7 percent respectfully, yet Paris Hilton and 50 Cent placed third at 15.8% each. The second place winner was Jesus Christ at 16.8%, and the first place winner was Jennifer Lopez at 17.4 percent.

Within the same poll, students were asked which jobs they would prefer out of five choices. In fifth and fourth place, below 10%, were CEOs of a major company “like General Motors” and “a Navy Seal.” Only 13.6% chose to be “a United States Senator,” and 23.7 % opted for “the president of a great university like Harvard or Yale.” At 43.4 percent and in first place, students ecstatically choose to be “the personal assistant to a very famous singer or movie star.” Not a famous person, mind you, but a lowly assistant!

All these fascinating statistics are compiled in Jake Halpern’s Fame Junkies: The Hidden Truths behind America’s Favorite Addiction. This book, utterly enthralling, provides the psychological reasoning for our obsession with Anna Nicole Smith and Paris Hilton.

Halpern actually has an answer to the age-old question, “What price is fame?”

16 comments:

Diane said...

I would make some intelligent comment here on the issue of fame, but right now I'm suffering from an injured toe that I stubbed badly as I was looking over my shoulder to see if Sandra Bullock was coming out of her house as I was walking by with my dogs . . .

Maggie said...

I bet it was one of those personal assistants living out her dream job. ;D

Tiffany Norris said...

J.Lo vs. Jesus. Wow.

Maggie said...

I know Tiffany! Nuts!

jenclair said...

These statistics certainly reveal that there is something terribly askew in our society. The fact that we all watch so much television, and that television often caters to the lowest common denominator is most likely a big factor.

Maggie said...

Jenclair, the author says it all started with Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous, and I remember being glued to that particuliar show every week. Oh, and I can't wait for reality tv to die, but again the author says it is here to stay.

We are such dumb-dumbs b/c of tv, too. Have you watched Family Feud w/ John Hurley? The questions are so easy, but the contestants are so lame they can't get them right. For instance, the question - name a country known for its wine - and the contestant yells out Paris. Another - name something everyone knows about dragons - and the woman excitedly answers, "They're extinct!" Oh, Boy! :D

Clair said...

It is strange to me when people talk about celebrities and shows like they are people they know. Not having a television makes me excluded from such conversation.

Dewey said...

I don't think I've ever read a celebrity magazine in my life!

I had to walk twice through a room today where librarians were having a special birthday lunch. The first time, they were talking about Dickens, and the second time, they were talking about a database called Artstor. Now I wonder if they talk about celebrities most of the time and I just got lucky hearing their most interesting conversations. ;)

Maggie said...

That's why I was freakin' out, Clair. I like looking at the fashions, though. ;D

Me neither Dewey! I just look at the pictures. ;)

Hey, ARTstor is kewl! We are looking at Jstor, not that kewl. Can you imagine spending 10 grand on a database only our faculty will use?

Deana said...

We definately have our priorities out of whack.

I was watching a program discussing the physical pain Anna would endure for those famous boobies of hers just for the fame and money. But she had terrible problems with them.

sage said...

Now I know why I feel so out of touch, I could care less about famous people

Maggie said...

Oh gosh, Deana. What about those triple X's girls which were popular in the early 90s. They went in knowing they were ruining their shape just for the fame.

Don't feel bad Sage. It's all useless information - unless - you plan to be a contestant on one of these dumb game shows.

Anonymous said...

Fame is ephemearal Maggie !

Maggie said...

Thanks Paul ! You are so right !

WorkingWords100 said...

Check out nola.com

Your famous boy, Brad Pitt, is in town today!

Maggie said...

Thanks WW100! I'll check it out, and um, drool. :0