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A potshot at the hotshots

The Christmas and New Year’s period aren’t the only seasons coming hard and fast; we’ll soon find ourselves thrust into a frenzy of glitz and glamour as celebrity award shows open their nominations in January.

There’s no doubt that social media will be buzzing with the who’s who of Hollywood and beyond, but it begs the question of whether we, as a society, have become so wholly engrossed in celebrity culture that we’ve forgotten what’s really important.

Yes, the sparkle and shine of the Oscars, BAFTAs, and Grammy’s have their allure – a small escape from the reality of the mundane.

Kim Kardashian will strut down a red carpet in a pair of Manolo Blahnik’s and a sparkly frock designed by Balenciaga [having already forgotten the child exploitation scandal of ‘22], and while she wears an outfit worth more than the average family home, we’ll eat it up like we were starving.

On another continent, there will be children quite literally starving, families removed from their homes due to violence and conflict, and less than 15 km from the Academy Awards itself is Skid Row – the area of Los Angeles notorious for its significant number of displaced and homeless people.

While it’s worthwhile to recognise performers for their work, it also represents the disconnect between the celebrity and society.

The concept of celebrity culture as we know it is relatively new. It’s a phenomenon that has evolved significantly over time, with the evolution of technology being a major contributing factor to the excessive surveillance of celebrities and, in turn, also changing the definition of celebrity.

Surveillance of celebrities isn’t new; perhaps one of the most well-known and tragic examples of celebrity culture and surveillance meshing together is when Princess Diana was hounded by paparazzi in France – resulting in her death.

The problem now is that celebrities have adopted self-surveillance, it’s everywhere and celebrities have learned how to turn it into something marketable and profitable.

Social media influencers joined the self-surveillance trend and carved their place in the public sphere, embracing celebrity culture as their own and creating blurred lines between influencer and celebrity.

Actors and singers are now creating influencer content on social media, and social media stars are now acting and singing – using their newfound status to create further streams of revenue for their ‘brand’ [though that topic will be saved for another day].

So, now we have celebrities documenting their lives on social media alongside teens and young adults who have grown up online – all the while, the same issues in society persist.

Award shows are now the place for celebrity culture to come together in a loud, sparkly, and expensive clash, an event that is so heavily surveilled that it’s possible to watch the show from five different angles if you have the energy to do so – there’s no doubt that half the celebrities there will be glued to their phones while they broadcast the ordeal.

As a form of escapism, thousands worldwide will tune in to watch them participate in celebrity culture because that’s the place where they fit into our public sphere.

Celebrities get to be at the event while the rest of the world is given access to watch – but never truly participate.

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