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Fame: A New Breed of Celebrity

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as videos go it's not much to look at it's only eighteen seconds long and it features a twenty five year world man named Javid Corinne standing in front of the elephant enclosure at the San Diego's speaking directly only to the camera Corinne comments on how elephants tend to have long trunks and then wraps it up with that's pretty much. All there is to say the video is called appropriately enough me at the zoo would makes me at the zoo. Special isn't the shaky cinematography or Kareem somewhat obvious commentary on the elephants anatomy. It's the fact that applauded in April two thousand five. It was the first video ever posted to a brand new video sharing site known as Youtube Youtube Kareem just happened to be the sites co-founder regular person not a celebrity by any means in a regular location not talking straight into the camera about something mundane that short shaky very first video contain the seeds of what would become a revolution with the potential to change the very nature took a fame as we know it. Andy Warhol was once famously quoted as saying in the future. Everybody will be famous for fifteen minutes and with platforms like Youtube and Instagram it turns out he might not have been far Laura. I'm Walter Isaacson and this is trail blazers original podcast from Dell technologies popularity. What does the people are working for your advocate. What makes people like one person and not another making it possible for you to they go to an ancient times in in what is now. Turkey a curious puzzle way in the heart of the now vanished city of Gordon. It didn't look like much an old old wagon tied to oppose with complicated not of Tree Bark but this humble looking wagon was the subject of a prophecy whoever could untie the knot would go on to rule all of Asia for hundreds of years. The wagon sat in the city centre until one day in the fourth first century. BC when a Macedonian up start by the name of Alexander came to town Alexander had a flair for well the dramatic and when he encountered this puzzle this Gordian Knot he knew just what to do. It was a technique that it served him well. In his conquests he come into a town he'd come into an area and say tell me the stories you know what what Gods and goddesses or who's been here before me. Leo Brody is the author of the frenzy of renown fame and its history. Somebody would say okay well. You know you see that big hill over there only Hercules could climb that hill so immediately Alexander would climb that Hill Alexander approach coach Gordian Knot and in a great example of lateral thinking didn't try and unpick it with his hands. He unsheathes his sword and Cartwright. Thrilling Alexandra wanted to fulfill the prophecy but he also had another goal in mind. The cutting the Gordian Knot is an early example of what we'd call today a publicity stunt but according to Leo Brody. It stunts like these vs that won him fame is the first celebrity Alexander was the first famous person because not only wanted to conquer Asia. He wanted everybody nobody in Athens particularly in Greece to be aware of his accomplishments so when he went out with his army the also went along with painters with writers with Gem carver's with people who could in fact parlay his great accomplishments into news that would be spread around on the world there he minted his own money he was the first person we know of who actually put his own face on a coin up to that point it was mainly the faces cases of gods and goddesses but he put his own face on those coins and that coining became the main money of the Mediterranean for hundreds of years after that Alexander the Great understood that fame wehrley comes naturally it had to be cultivated and Brad centuries later the the emperors of Rome still regarded Alexander is both a legendary military leader and a master of public relations. It became common practice talk to emblazon their profiles on coins that would circulate throughout the Empire in an attempt to deify themselves before Alexander Zander fame only really belong to the gods the Greek Pantheon whose influence can be felt in every aspect of daily life he had a keen eye for the residents of these kinds of stunts and he somehow he had an instinct for knowing exactly what to do that would make people stand back and say oh wow that's really a terrific thing. You must be amazing. He must be almost God himself. Alexander the great may have single handedly changed fame but the idea celebrity as we know it took a couple thousand more years to evolve it was linked tightly with the rise of technology that brought words and images into people's homes in the mid fourteen hundred Inventor Johannes Hannah's Gutenberg introduced the concept of mechanical movable type printing to your books and other printed materials can now that'd be mass produced on a scale previously thought impossible when we look at the seventeenth and eighteenth century we are looking really at the beginnings of the US particularly printing any imagery to promulgate fame now of course the printing presses invented a couple of centuries before this but it's not not really until the late sixteenth seventeenth eighteenth century that printing become so important and also obviously another thing that's going on at this time of rising literacy literacy rate so people can read about famous people as well as either images with the growth of literacy and printing came new personalities Alevis and even new nations able to capture the imagination of readers around the world and it's in a relatively relatively young country of America that fame would take on an entirely new an incandescent form. It's it's a night of September Sixteenth Nineteen thirty two and peg entwistle is stumbling through the forest and Hollywood hills. It's a long way from her birthplace of Port Port Talbot Wales and up and coming actor. She's received fine reviews for her work. On the American stage a few years earlier a teenage Bette Davis after seeing her performance and unrig Gibson's the wild duck would famously tell her mother I wanna be exactly exactly like pagan whistle and just months before that September night and was all filmed the first and only screen appearance in the film thirteen eighteen women but entwistle won't live to see the film's release nor appreciate strange kind of fame that would eventually be thrust upon her making way through the woods. She comes across what is then store local curiosity. A large sign lit up with electric lights spelling the name of a local real estate development. Nobody knows exactly why but peg entwistle climbs to the top of the sign and leaps to her death in the story of entwistle suicide becomes famous the world over its irresistibly symbolic embolic the sign she leapt from would very soon be inextricably identified with the industry that she traveled across the world. Oh to become a part of the real estate add becomes a tourist attraction over the years millions of flock to it and photograph that countless times over over. It's a sign that reads Hollywood land the movies warrant originally an American art back form let alone one based in Los Angeles not only where they're prolific studios in New York but also in France and Germany but the first world war but disrupt the European film industry and soon it was a wide open spaces as well as the beautiful warm weather of California L. A. -fornia that would attract filmmakers to its shores. Hollywood began to take form but it was still missing one element that would eventually define it. The movie star in fact originally film actors were totally unknown. The studios radio's just didn't consider them very important in the very earliest days of the movies right around nine thousand nine hundred the phone companies were just promoting their films. They didn't publicize the actors. They didn't even identify them. Samantha Barbas is the author of of movie crazy fans stars in the cult of celebrity the fans the audience is starting to really get curious. Who are these people in the movies and of course you know movies project faces on the screen larger than life and so these actors seem really the intimate to viewers so fans started to write to the studio saying. Who are these people? Can you tell us about them. The studio started releasing information. The actors names their backgrounds whether they're married and so on studios soon realized that motion picture technology allergy had the ability to create an unprecedented intimacy between the faces on the screen and the general public not even the printed word can compete with the connection filmgoers had with their favourite performers driven by the demands of movie lovers lovers a whole new type of fame came into being and it was very very profitable. Suddenly Stars were created raided studios realized that they could make a lot of money by selling stars in addition to selling films publicity was generated did press releases issued and over time the studios found that audiences could develop a very powerful emotional relationship to stars on on the basis of this personal information right which humanize actors which made the relatable and real to audiences in so really from nineteen fourteen. Can we get you know they continued. Growth and fantastic escalation of the star system movies were considered to be eh an utterly disposable form of entertainment in the silent era. The Library of Congress estimates that seventy five percent of films. Tom From the silent days have been lost forever and many early stars like Florence Lawrence and Francis x Bushman is obscure as missing movies but the star system itself proved to be highly durable in an era when the big movie movie studios ruled with an Iron Fist the public images of movie stars were micro manage to a degree unthinkable in today's era of constant tweeting an instagram ing the information that was released about the stars was incredibly managed and controlled and very tame by our standards they would perhaps mention if they were married and maybe some facts about their childhood or upbringing what everything that was potentially chilly unsavory less than glamorous was erased. The image of the stars was Kinda groomed perfection movie stars would with tightly manage because film studios were anxious about their own image stories like pegging was those leap from the Hollywood sign or the murder of popular silent comic Fatty Arbuckle gave the Shiny Veneer the movie industry a grimy coating movies were absolutely lutely seen as unsavory in the early years and the movie producers were always concerned that the theaters were going to be shut down by the authorities that the movies were are going to be censored because they were censor boards and all of the states at that time so they were you know very concerned with kind of uplifting the image of the movies and an stars actually played a role in that if they could present actresses as being really wholesome and upright and faithful then that would just make the movies look all that much better gossip columnists like Luella Parsons and hedda hopper celebrities in their own right would kept on a tight lace and reporters who dad break salacious stories with threatened and intimidated by the studios in house enforces but eventually the studios began to lose a great deal of their power in one thousand nine hundred forty eight the US Supreme Court broke up the studios monopolies in US versus power mount pictures antitrust case that targeted the studios ownership of movie chains now that they didn't own the entire pipeline studios no longer had the unshakable control of their stars and the film media and that provided an opening for a whole new type of publication. This tabloid comes on the scene confidential. Shaw magazine that started by a guy who used to publish other kinds of unsavory pulse and he comes up with the idea the that maybe there would be a real audience for salacious gossip about the stars. I mean really the stuff that Luella and the fan magazines won't print and what he does is. He sets up kind of a gossip network in Hollywood. He hires maids butlers lers chauffeur's dressers basically pays them off to get tips about scandalous behavior of the stars and he publishes it in this this tabloid confidential and the whole kind of star allusion is relieved disrupted. I mean it's a major challenge to Hollywood's image and I think it totally they transformed not only celebrity journalism but the way that Everyday People Hyun stars confidential closed in the late nineteen fifties after a lengthy in court battle that ended with a magazine promising to publish only positive stories. It didn't last long after that the end of its era dovetailed with a whole new one the rise of pop culture aimed at the especially rock and roll soon certain types of fandom like beetle mania could be confused with mass hysteria and over the next several decades television which the studios were terrified with eclipse a movie Biz only served to bring movie stars closer closer to the public whether to talk show appearances mentor reveal their more human side or eventually celebrity based reality TV shows like dancing with the stars may never have come into being if not for another trail-blazing program that introduced the world to a whole new kind of pastime by turning the private lives of seemingly ordinary people into public entertainment. MTV's MTV's the real world was arguably the world's first reality TV show and in arguably the first reality holiday show the world really paid attention to it began in nineteen ninety two and go on to become the longest running reality -ality television series in history. It was revolutionary in its storytelling. The first season of the real world took place place in New York and featured the private lives of seven young attractive centric strangers thrown together in a house and recorded around around-the-clock and of course drama ensued it transformed ordinary people into celebrities made famous for their private lives. Eric Niece was one of them really the special thing about the real world is it was authentic. Nothing scripted. It was very transparent at the time. It wasn't really manipulated at all so I think you know it was the first time that society got to see seven people in real time just projecting their life's experiences out into the world and I think that it was really refreshing for people to see such raw emotion before his appearance on the Real World Eric just a guy from New Jersey. We've been modeling and New York but that all changed once he was cast on the show it wasn't until a bow tie would say when we started to do the press for our show the realization of the the magnitude of how big this was going to be because we were being interviewed by. The Wall Street Journal The New York Times and in publications like that and all of the big talk shows so kinda hit me at that moment that I thought that this was is much bigger than I anticipated it to be which obviously turned out today it would turn out to be a wild ride for Eric and six other the housemates their transformation from anonymous citizens to world-famous. TV Stars seem to happen in the blink of an eye. My I time being famous was absolutely incredible. I've traveled all over the world. I got to bring my friends. Wherever I wanted to go. I was twenty one years old. I got tons of free clothes. I got into every restaurant every bar every club for free. All my friends got to come. Come with me. There were all these incredible perks. You know you fly first class. You know it's like you feel like you have the the world in the palm of your hand the fame produced by the reality. TV was anything but traditional dirty laundry was not only made public but would ultimately become the reality TV's Bredon Bader. Nothing was shielded from the audience and Eric. This was a much needed dose of authenticity. People are tired of being glide too so what's unique about this type of fame is that we're not acting for pretending to be. It's something that were not so we're actually creating the story and that's the authentic and I think it's really beautiful. It's it's so special it says relatable as you'RE GONNA get reality TV would launch a different different type of celebrity and lay the groundwork for a new type of fame for better or worse. The appetite title for real celebrities only seem to increase and when match with the rise of video sharing and social media it which seem unstoppable Javid Kareem's me at the zoo video might only have been eighteen seconds as long but it was the first drop in a vast ever-growing ocean today of five hundred hours of video uploaded added to youtube. Every minute and one billion hours of videos watched every single day. It's created its own ecosystem ecosystem of fame dedicated every imaginable topic or interest the incredible popularity of Youtube and the tools the site mm provides for its users to monetize videos has created an entirely new class of celebrity influence. Our culture has become a multi altea billion dollar industry. The output of influencers range from polished videos to comedy skit to talk shows two personal blogs video blogs but what they all have in common is a deep connection. They have to their platforms you basically there's this group of people that leverages these platforms to build a audience Taylor. Laurent's is a a journalist who has written about Internet culture for the Atlantic and the daily beast sometimes that audience can be millions of fans subscribers and hence it can just be a thousand but they then leverage that audience to make a living and that can be through pre roll ads on Youtube too much of the ads that come up before you watch video or it can be through sponsorships through branded content. There's tons of different ways that all these people monetize is but essentially what they're doing is using platforms like Youtube Tick Tock which is a news sort of short form video APP Instagram Graham to generate a fan base for themselves and these influences stars aren't merely the polished Hollywood actors and models at once dominated show uh-huh business although there included to these people are coming from all over. I mean literally anyone it can be a forty two year old mom in Minnesota can be a sixteen year old model in La.. There's literally anyone I mean there was just an article in Bloomberg recently about farmers generating huge audience on Youtube and in some cases some farmer youtubers make more money doing their youtube channel than do even tending to their own crops. The wide reach of the Internet has meant that stardom is no longer a monoculture stars. Don't have to be all things to all people if they're able to reach a critical mass of fans interested in the same things they are like farming. You might only have a few thousand people interested in filming farming world or some other niche community but something like Youtube allows them to all come together online and consume content or follow one specific specific person or group of people that are producing content related to that topic even though it might be a smaller audience worldwide that audience can still be very valuable because they can have come together online and what makes an influence of successful is their ability not to deeply understand and work with the technology underlying these platforms the Youtube Recommendation Algorithm has received achieved a great deal of scrutiny lately for how it said to drive viewers towards extremist content but creators see it as one of the greatest tools in building maintaining an audience. What's underlying all of these platforms is algorithms. Are Our engineers trying to create formulas to decide. What makes good content from bad content? How do you translate citizen Kane into a couple of metrics bricks to decide how many views it gets or how visible it is across your platform. Matt Patrick known to his fans as Matt. Pat Is the creator of the Youtube Series Game Theory. A show that analyzes video games from a sometimes tongue in cheek scientific point of view often and with a neuro science angle is channel has about twelve million subscribers and receives about three million views on each video l. he posts and although you may never have heard of him for comparison. That's about the same number of people who watch the season one finale right of game of thrones. It's very much about what are the priorities of the platforms that I'm working on. What are the algorithms looking to kind of promote or more accurately. The neural networks works at this point looking to promote looking to kind of help grow on the platforms and then how does that align with my creative sensibilities and what I'm looking to kind of out they're just for from my own passions or my own interests most digital influencers at this point have teams of at minimum three to five to help kind of maintain the flow of content that's going on and so to then go and look into their analytics on a regular basis and then translate that data into actionable steps that that they can make on their own content to improve it make it better make it more exciting for audiences and also more beneficial or kind of work better with the algorithms at the crux of the influence of fan relationship is a sense of intimacy much like early movie fans demanded details to their favorite stars lives. Many influencers have succeeded by making their viewers feel more like friends than financial supporters. Taylor Lorentz often these influencers open up about very personal things on the Internet and they have this intensely tight bond with an influencer silencer which is great for the influence or in some ways because it allows them to more effectively sal things to an audience because the audience is so dedicated to them and their lifestyle but it's also very hard you know if you don't get a response for an influencers and pens it can feel like a friend scorned you you know and that's not the case. This person was never your friend but you feel this really intimate connection with them and so it can feel like they're your friend your best friend but while these virtual friendships can sometimes goes sour the upside is a feeling of mutual friendship that transcends the old days when the most you expect from your favorite star would be an autograph in the mail that Patrick a digital all influence. Her is your best friend. It's your brother. It's your big sister. It's someone that you feel an intimate connection with. It's someone who you come to understand their life story their likes and their interests their dislikes people who've been following our channels for years know that I love love Diet Coke right and so any event that I go to I am inundated with people just offering me up cans of Diet Coke because they love it. They know that we just had a baby this year and so one of the most moving examples was they knew all like international vacations ends that we had been on and so they got us a children's book from each of the different countries that we had visited our international travel so that we could share that experience with with our baby like that is the level of love and trust and admiration that a lot of these fans have with their favourite online align creators and it's it's a beautiful thing the influence our industry is a new breed of celebrity with its own set of rules many any of which are being figured out on the fly but it doesn't appear to be going away and it may one day eclipse the Hollywood star system that has dominated popular culture for the last Hundred Years Taylor Lorentz. I mean the influence our marketing industry astray alone is projected to reach. I think it's somewhere between ten to twenty billion dollars next year. This is a total shift in society and fame and how how people connect with each other online ever since stories of the exploits of the young conqueror. Alexander of mastodon began to filter back to Athens. We've been elevating larger than life characters to godlike status. The Internet is accelerated that process giving anyone anyone with a smartphone the ability to access their fifteen minutes of fame once the province of larger than life figures or impossibly glamorous movie stars famous now available to anyone can figure out how to tap into the right niche. We used to worship stars from afar. You're just a couple of taps away from becoming them. I'm Walter Isaacson and you've been listening to trail blazers an original podcast from Dahl technologies for more information about any of the guests on today's show you can head to our website at dowd technologies dot com slash trailblazers. Thanks for listening

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