Imagine the year 1946 (the all-time high year of movie attendance1). Most Americans didn't own TV sets, but they went to the movies on average twice a week. (Or so I've heard. I mean, my grandparents probably didn't, they lived on a farm, but I digress.) Back then, fame meant having your face twelve feet high on a silver screen.
Or before that, radio broadcasts were changing the American culture and creating celebrities... I'm not saying radio invented mass culture. Alright, so we could go back to the invention of the printing press or newspapers, or the widespread distribution of newspapers, but that's not what I've been thinking about.
A friend's comic initiated this post:
This reminded me that the Time Magazine 2006 person of the year was you. Television is increasing competing for our attention with other forms of entertainment where we are the star. I am the star of my blog and facebook page. If I play a videogame it is my actions manipulating the avatar.
Welcome to the age of entertainment in the second person. Part of the fun of reality TV shows, even American Idol, is that you could very well be the next star. I have no idea why anyone would make a youtube diary, but people do all the time, because almost everybody wants to be famous. Heck, as newspapers decline we are turning to regular people on Twitter to read the news.
I wanted to be famous, too. I started a podcast because I wanted to be internet famous. Thanks to my wedding, I achieved that goal. But now I think it's kind of hollow. Growing up, we used to watch Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous. But these days fame and riches don't seem to go hand in hand.
My brother has lamented of the internet that everyone online thinks their opinion counts for something. The hoi polloi are encouraged to write amazon book reviews and comment on New York Times articles. The trouble being that if everyone is a critic, fewer people get paid for criticism. Noah sent along this article recently about the American divide between critics and regular folks recently.
Anyway, I'm not really going anywhere with this line of thinking at the moment. I'm interested in learning about the government's involvement in helping the proliferation of broadcast media and whether or not it had something to do with war, or the Cold War, or the Emergency Broadcast System. Remember that thing?
And why do people want to be famous anyway? Why did I ever want to be famous?