Celebrities – yesterday and today

Image: David Buchi
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By FRANCISCO FERNANDES LADEIRA*

Our existence is much more complex and distressing than the chimerical happiness of yesterday's and today's celebrities demonstrates.

In the late 1990s and early 2000s, the Brazilian media began to give great prominence to the so-called “celebrities”, a nomenclature by which a person considered “famous” is designated, that is, known to the general public, a constant presence in programs television programs, gossip columns and covers of specialized magazines.

At the time, several publications appeared exclusively intended to accompany the daily lives of celebrities, such as the famous magazine Faces (every self-respecting celebrity should spend at least one weekend on Isla de Caras). Not by chance, between 2003 and 2004, the Globo aired a telenovela entitled precisely Celebridade.

In past decades, when cell phones still did not take pictures and “Selfie” was just a word in English class, it wasn't easy to turn into a celebrity. Either the individual had some artistic, musical or sporting talent, duly recognized, or lived in the shadow of someone: “so-and-so's girlfriend”, “cicrano's son” or “beltrano's friend”. There was only one possible way to become a celebrity: appearing exhaustively in the mainstream media, preferably on television programs with high ratings.

However, this reality has changed with the advent of social media. A profile on Facebook or Instagram is all it takes for anyone to feel like a celebrity, that is, to have the feeling of being watched by others, “following” their daily lives, posting what they are eating, disclosing where they are going, sharing their opinions about a certain subject and, of course, raise some controversies. Anonymity no more!

if before, paparazzi stalked celebrities for the best (and often embarrassing) flashes; these days, social media users are their own paparazzi. In this way, the virtual space turned into a great competition for “likes”.

However, as Sören Kierkegaard has warned, comparison is the root of human unhappiness. That joy in sharing certain events considered important on social networks soon turns into frustration when realizing that the other has a newer car, a bigger house, traveled to the most popular beach or has a more valued job.

That photo strategically posted to try to make the ex-boyfriend jealous soon loses its meaning when he learns that he is with a more beautiful and interesting partner. These are the side effects of social networks: sometimes we become aware of something that we didn't (at first) want to know, but that ends up affecting us. “What Facebook or Instagram sees, the heart feels”, says a classic popular saying, adapted for contemporary times.

In short, “real life” is not a fairy tale. Roberto Carlos already said: anyone who expects that life is made of illusion can go crazy. Our existence is much more complex and distressing than the chimerical happiness of yesterday's and today's celebrities demonstrates.

*Francisco Fernandes Ladeira is a doctoral student in geography at the State University of Campinas (Unicamp). Author, among other books, of The ideology of international news (ed. CRV).


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