Wednesday, February 15, 2012

The Fame

To continue a previous thought line, I present to you a picture I happened to come across on Tumblr this morning:

1) Ah. Yes. Remember that little thing I said about roles being important in order to develop fangirl attachment? Thank you, Tumblr, for providing a perfect example of this. While I have yet to see Atonement (much to my chagrin) I did read the books some years back (actually, over Valentine's Day my junior year when I got the stomach flu. That was fun). I remember "that scumbag," as the blogger so artfully states. This happens to be the character of Paul Marshall, who (SPOILERS) rapes a woman named Lola. If you were wondering why maybe Cumberbatch didn't get fangirls until later roles... this would probably be part of it. Wow (I kind of wondered if that was the character he played when I realized he was in Atonement, as there's only so many characters in that book. That had to be one hell of a tough role to take on).

2) I would like to draw your attention to the last comment made by one of the Tumblr uses, the one that reads "Thanks for reminding me that I'll probably never meet him in my life." Ladies and gentlemen of the world, I give you the fangirl cynic. The fangirl cynic, I would argue, is small part of every fangirl, the realist part gone bitter over time. With every bright, elated, gushing and cheerful side, there seems to be a darker, depressed, frustrated and angered edge attached. Keep this on the back burner, and I'll talk about it soon. I promise.

And in relation to how I ended the previous post, check out this article where Daniel Radcliff reflects on his co-star, Robert Pattinson's sudden rise to fame. I'd like to dwell a little bit more here on the mentality we (or at least the we I'm familiar with, meaning American society) have in regards to celebrities. This might seem a bit redundant or unnecessary, but sometimes you have to look at the something that seems so common place as foreign or strange in order to get a better grasp of it.

Celebrities are a huge part of American life - sometimes for better, sometimes for worse. I mean, just look at all of the headlines about Whitney Houston's death, and you can totally see how big of a role they play in our society. I wish I had a better understanding/knowledge base for how celebrity culture developed, but now all I can do is wonder and marvel how things like the paparazzi and Entertainment Tonight became a significant part of our lives. Another loose thread to follow up on...

I think the first celebrity I heard mentioned the most when I was young was Tom Hanks. I remember hearing about him a ton in the 90s, along with stars like Meg Ryan, Tom Cruise and, once Titanic came out, Leo DiCaprio everywhere. But Tom Hanks' fans were markedly different than DiCaprio's were. I mean, while both are good actors, both have done a variety or roles, there's an instant difference in what kind of demographic comprise his fans. There's also a difference in levels of investment. For instance, one might really like Tom Hanks as an actor and like some of his films and think he's a really great guy. Fans of DiCaprio, at least from what I recall, were deeply, deeply in love with him and wanted to marry him. This sort of thing just didn't happen to Hanks. Perhaps because the romantic leads Hanks played were different from DiCaprio's. Perhaps because our perception of him is different.

Explanation: You're a teenager in America. You come across an actor named Leonardo DiCaprio. You've never heard of him before, but he's coming out in this movie that's supposed to be a blockbuster and everyone's talking about it. And you start getting interested and listening to people talking about it. And then you go see it and fall in love with Leo.

It's communication and perception: You didn't know who he was before the movie. You hadn't heard of him before. But suddenly a bunch of people are talking about him, and you get the feeling he's really famous. You perceive him as so. You see his film - a blockbuster hit. The more people who see it, who allow him to communicate across the silver screen as only an actor can, the more famous he becomes as other communicate with each other how incredible he is, how romantic he is, how perfect he is. And this snowballs and snowballs and snowballs and suddenly Leo can't go anywhere without being recognized. Welcome to the first stage of fangirling (and Leo's path to fame): Discovery.

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