Henry: Some celebrities don’t deserve the title


Photo courtesy of Flickr/The Cosmopolitan of Las Vegas

Daily columnist Katie Henry asks why certain celebrities become and remain famous.

Katie Henry

Something that always puzzles and interests me about society (and sometimes myself) is what seems to be our never-ending obsession with celebrities. Everyone is guilty of this to a certain extent.

It’s perfectly natural to know all the words to songs from your favorite band or being able to  name every film your favorite actor has starred in. It’s also natural to aspire to be like someone if you share similar passions or skills. What’s NOT natural about our society’s obsession with the rich and famous is when people know every detail about celebrities’ personal lives, especially when some of these “celebrities” really don’t contribute enough to get their A-list title.

The key to making the distinction between celebrities who don’t do anything and celebrities who have their own particular craft is understanding the difference between socialites and celebrities.

Socialites are rich and typically the heir to a fortune or who have high profile parents. Think the Kardashians or even Paris Hilton. Granted, some actors and musicians have famous parents, but at the same time, they did personal work to build personal success in the movie and music industries.

Some socialite celebrities don’t seem to understand that their actions define what they will be remembered by once their fame fizzles out or they pass away, whichever comes first. We remember everything about a celebrity’s career: the good and the bad.

The Kardashian family is a case in point example of socialites turned celebrities. I’d be lying if I said that I’d never watched the show (and still do on Sunday nights. Oops.). But my question is: why are these shows so popular? Sure, everyone has a go to guilty pleasure reality TV show, but the Kardashian fame expands beyond their five plus TV shows that have aired on the E! Network. The only member of the family who should be semi-famous is stepfather Bruce Jenner, who won the gold medal in decathlon at the 1976 Olympics.

The Kardashian fame began with Kim Kardashian’s leaked sex tape in 2005. In 2007, the popular E! Network show, “Keeping Up With the Kardashians” aired for the first time. Since then, the show has had seven seasons with three spin offs, each of which have their own seasons. Then came Kardashian’s 72-day marriage, and the rest is (and probably shouldn’t be) history.

If you took the sex tape scandal out of the Kardashian equation, would she or any of her family members be famous at all?

Michael Jackson is another one of the many celebrities who had an incredible career tarnished by scandal. Without opening the pandora’s box of truth within the allegations, people still remember him as the King of Pop but attach scandal to his memory.

When did we become so engrossed in the lives of people we don’t know? In the 1950s, tabloids used to publish actual news, even if it was gruesome car accidents and political scandals. Then, Enquirer owner Generoso Pope started to make the publication more friendly to housewives, publishing news such as the death of Elvis and other breaking news in the entertainment world. The O.J. Simpson trial in the 1990s was so widely covered by media other than print magazines that tabloid editors and writers had to start making up elaborate stories to make up for the readership loss.

The biggest unanswered question: Why do we care? The most logical reason would be that many people desire fame, fortune and all that jazz. There are celebrities who are famous because they are skilled in a particular craft: music, acting, sports, et cetera. That’s why people idolize them: They appreciate their skills and achievements, thus aspiring to develop those skills themselves. But the lesson to take away is to be careful when you become engrossed in the lives of others. Instead, you should start thinking about your own.


Katie Henry is a senior in journalism and political science from Pella, Iowa.