Research Paper on Celebrities in the MediaHow Does the Media and Celebrities Affect Our Society?
In the contemporary world, media play increasingly more important role. At the same time, it should be said that media are closely intertwined with celebrities who are often in the focus of attention of mass media and, to a significant extent, it is due to celebrities mass media maintain the interest of the public to their products and services. On the other hand, celebrities also need the media since the media promote them and create certain image of a celebrity that is an essential condition of his or her popularity. In this respect, the interaction and mutual impact of media and celebrities is particularly strong in the modern music industry. Music industry occupies a very significant place in the life of the modern society. Traditionally, people highly appreciated music as a form of art that meets their aesthetic tastes and produces positive effects on their emotional and psychological state. Basically, the attitude to music in the modern society has hardly changed, though it is worthy of mention that modern music constitutes a part of the pop culture, but it has never lost its significance and its impact on the emotional state of individuals. At the same time, modern music is more than a form of art. Nowadays, it is also a very profitable business and music one of the major elements of the modern entertainment industry.
At first glance, the increasing role of music as a highly profitable industry should stimulate the development of music, appearance of new artists, new ideas and styles. Moreover, music, being traditionally the field where outstanding people could realize their talents, such as famous classical musicians and composers, could count for the appearance of new talented artists who would have larger opportunities to realize their ideas and inclinations. However, in actuality, modern music is a part of the entertainment industry where artistic talent, professional skills and abilities are secondary and can hardly influence the public recognition of artists and, instead, the overwhelming power of media determines the popularity of artists and makes them mainstream. Moreover, the media do not only contribute to the popularity of celebrities, especially musician and artists, but also, together with celebrities, they shape the cultural identity of contemporary people and define the basic values of the contemporary society.
Obviously, media play a very significant role in the modern society and music. In order to better understand the significance of media for artists and celebrities, especially in the music industry, it is necessary to analyze the current situation in society and assess the role of media in the modern society. In this regard, the impact of media on the modern society is really enormous. First of all, modern media have already evolved into powerful tools which could be used by their owners to shape or, at least, influence the public opinion and create new trends in culture, social life, and even politics. It is not a secret that modern media are primarily mass media that means that they are oriented on the mass audience and, therefore, they can influence masses of people. In such a situation, it is quite natural that people that are using the same media, for instance, that are watching the same TV channels, reading the same magazines, etc. have certain similarities in their views, tastes, and even lifestyle.
In this respect, the impact of modern national media often outweigh the impact of local media and specialist argue that nowadays it is possible to speak about the formation of individuals’ identity under the impact of media (Chomsky, 87). Thus, cultural, political, moral and other views of an individual are shaped by media and national media tend to create a unique national culture that contributes to the formation of a specific cultural identity that can unite people living in different parts of the country, having different ethnic or cultural background. Under the impact of media they can accept those values that are constantly imposed on them. No wonder that specialists (Chomsky, 89) speak about the formation of a very specific MTV culture, or MTV generation. In fact, it is not only American or western culture that affected by this trends, but it is also possible to speak about the impact of American culture, including MTV culture on such traditionally conservative cultures as Kuwaiti culture. To put it more precisely, in the contemporary, globalized world, the growing cultural exchange leads to the growing impact of American culture on other cultures of the world and they become more and more Americanized or westernized. For instance, Kuwaiti culture gradually decreases the significance of rigid Islamic norms which dominated in the country. Instead, the new generations, some representatives of which have got their education in the USA and other western countries, more readily accepts western cultural standards and lifestyle, introducing elements of western culture in their national culture.
At the same time, it is necessary to remember about the fact that people can hardly resist to such an impact because media accompany people everywhere. In fact, modern mass media have made enormous progress and they became extremely diverse. In the past there were practically no alternatives to press, TV and radio, while nowadays there appeared Internet, which generates the creation of virtual communities with their unique culture (Bagdikian, 137), while the development of modern telecommunications, including mobile phones, made media constantly available to customers. Consequently, people are under a permanent pressure of media. They are simply bombarded with information that media supply and, what is more important, people do not really have a choice what information or what message they want receive from media and which they do not. To put it more precisely, people do not have an opportunity to get information that is really interesting to them and that they really want to know. Instead, they are consumers that receive a ready-made product of mass media that targets mass consumers and the major goal of media is to increase their popularity and their audience because it defines their profitability and, therefore, their survival in the highly competitive market.
In fact, the popularity of artists may be defined by a variety of factors. The modern music industry is a part of the pop culture and, therefore, music is highly dependent on the major trends in pop culture. In this respect, the modern pop culture and music promote the cult of celebrities. This means that the major goal of an artist working in the music industry is to become famous and popular. In fact, this is the ultimate goal any beginning singer or musician wants to achieve. In such a situation, many beginning artists count for their talent and inherited or acquired skills and abilities. They sincerely believe that they can achieve success and join the cohort of celebrities, which, to a significant extent, define the modern mainstream culture.
On analyzing such an approach to getting the public recognition and popularity, it is necessary to admit the fact that the belief that if a person has a talent and works hard, he/she will succeed, is a kind of myth, the famous American dream that will never come true for the overwhelming majority of artists. As the matter of fact, talent and personal qualities may be very important but they can hardly be determinant factor. Basically, what the talent and some positive personal qualities of an individual can give him/her are just larger opportunities to become a part of mainstream culture but to become a celebrity artists need to play according to the rules of modern show business.
In fact, personal qualities of an artist are mainly important for his/her personal relations with other people, including professionals that participate in the promotion of an artist. However, it is money and power of the promoters that can really define the future of an artist. In this regard, an artist cannot become popular simply because he/she has some new ideas or really great talent. The new artist needs the wide support of recording companies to convey his/her works to the mass audience. At the same time, hard work may be viewed as an essential element that, to a significant extent, defines perspectives of an individual in his/her musical career. However, similarly to the talent it cannot fully determine the success of an artist in modern music. Basically, hard work is essential to create a positive public image, to get used to the communication with the audience and media, etc. But hard work is not a determinant factor in the promotion of an artist.
In fact, many artists that have a talent, some new, fresh ideas, who work hard and whose music may be really good remain unknown for the mass audience simply because they cannot convey their message to the audience and they cannot show their work to other people. Nowadays, the ability or possibility of an individual to be in a public eye, his/her access to media are the determinant factors that practically guarantee the success of an artist. As a result, the popularity of an artist is not defined actually by his/her talent or his/her hard work but it is rather defined by the frequency of his/her appearance in media and the amount of time media pay attention to his/her personality and work.
In such a situation, it is very important to understand the way in which media can contribute to the popularity of music and make it mainstream. Basically, the modern music industry is very complicated and it is practically impossible for an individual to gain the public approval and become popular without any external support. In fact, specialists (Schenker, 348) point out that modern music industry is controlled by a few large recording companies, such as Sony Records, for instance. These large recording companies assist an artist in the process of recording, they actually have the right for the distribution of albums of an artist and, thus, they, to a significant extent define the success of an artist because an artist turns to be a kind of puppet in hands of large record companies which actually redistribute profits from the sales of the artist’s albums or his performance at large.
Such a situation is the result of the high costs of recording and promotion of the music of artists. At the same time, even the recording companies are not almighty because to promote an artist they inevitably need to use media. This is why media became the major tool of the promotion of an artist and the popularity of an artist may be viewed as a product of media. In fact, to understand the role of media it is necessary to understand properly the way of becoming a celebrity. In this respect, to invent a good music or create a good song is only an initial but not obligatory stage. An artist may have this product, i.e. music or song, or he/she may simply acquire this product from other artists. The latter can readily help in this regard if they have failed to become celebrities and need money or when they are simply unable to sell their product themselves. Furthermore, a recording company is needed to record a song or create an album. This stage is very important because in the modern highly competitive market music should be really of the highest quality, though it does necessarily mean that an artist should really have a talent. What he/she really needs is the ability to perform the music or sing a song on an average level while the leading recording companies, using modern technological tools can “improve” the performance of an artist (Bennett, 137). At the same time, recording companies can supply an artist with perfect music and lyric which they can easily buy.
However, it is only the preparation stage for becoming a celebrity. In fact, to get started, an artist needs to have a song or an album recorded by a leading company. After that the media comes into play and their role is determinant in the success or failure of an artist. At the same time, it is necessary to underline that even at this stage an artist does not play a very important role because in the process of promotion his/her recording company is much more important than an artist him/herself. In fact, the artist is insignificant until the moment he/she becomes a celebrity. Prior to this moment, a recording company actively develops his/her promotional campaign. This means that the recording company needs to sale the product, i.e. music created by an artist. To meet this goal and to sale a possibly larger number of albums and gain maximum benefit from the promotion of an artist, the company needs to make this artist popular.
In practice, this artist should become recognizable by the mass audience that naturally impossible if the audience has never heard or saw his/her performance. This is actually why the role of media is crucial because, as a rule, the recording company negotiates with radio station, TV companies, printed media the promotion of the artist. The goal of the negotiations is to make media include the artist into the list of their records that the audience can listen daily, while in the case of printed media, the recording company attempts to convince magazines and papers that its artist is worth noting and, therefore, printed media should provide their readers with ample information about this artist and show him/her as a new star of the modern music and as a great talent. In such a situation, such traditional notions as talent and hard work are traditionally used to attract the attention of the audience to the work of the artist and his/her personality. In fact, it is quite logical because, otherwise, media would fail if they presented a new artist as an absolutely unknown person in the music industry.
Basically, media attempt to present the artist to the mass audience and draw the maximum attention to his/her music and personality. In this regard, it should be pointed out that the interest of recording companies and media is mutual because media also can benefit from the promotional campaign of the artist if he/she manages to become a celebrity. Obviously, media, as it has been already mentioned above, need the mass audience. Naturally, the audience steadily grows tired if it does not receive new information and the more stir this information makes the better for media because this naturally attracts the audience. In such a way, media introduce the new artist, the audience listens and watches his/her performance, and the recording company starts sales of albums of the artist. This is the simplest scheme that is used to make an unknown artist a new celebrity.
In general, the promotional campaign is of a paramount importance because the more media and, therefore, people are talking about the new artist the more chances he/she has to become a celebrity. Consequently, the recording company can count for the larger sales rate. Such a situation seems to be profitable to all participants involved. However, this scheme perfectly illustrates the extent to which media are important in the promotion of an artist and in the creation of his/her popularity because media play the key role at the stage of promotion of the artist. At the same time, it is obvious that the talent of the artist is of little importance. Moreover, the artist does not really need to work hard to maintain his popularity.
By the way, the maintenance of the popularity of the artist is also of a paramount importance and it is also impossible without the assistance of media. To put it more precisely, what the artist really needs to remain popular is make media focus their attention on his/her life and work. Obviously, the more attention media pay to the artist the more people will talk about him/her and the higher will be sale rates of his/her music, while media can increase their audience if the information about the artist is really interesting for people. In this regard, the creative work of an artist may be secondary because what media need is just some sensations or noteworthy details of the artist’s life. Consequently, the artist just needs to be represented in the mainstream media to maintain his popularity, while his/her music is just one of the tools to draw the public attention to his/her personality, which is often more important to the audience than his/her music.
In such a context, many artists use the media to create a specific image or simply to promote themselves, even if they need to get involved in some scandals. In this respect, it is possible to mention numerous sexual scandals of Michal Jackson, or more recent scandal involving Britney Spears and her relationships with her ex-husband and child. Obviously, mass media pay a lot of attention to the private life of celebrities and the latter often use the media to draw the attention of the public. At the same time, the public perceives the lifestyle of celebrities depicted in media and tends to follow the example of celebrities. In fact, celebrities act as models of behavior for the mass audience, while mass media serve as mediators between celebrities and the public. On the other hand, the role of media is consistently more significant that the intermediation. In fact, the media are commercial enterprises and, similarly to celebrities, they need the public interest.
Consequently, they use celebrities to increase their rating, though often mass media pay little attention to effects of their products on society. In actuality, effects may be quite negative since the depiction of scandals or even interference in personal life of celebrities crate erroneous views of ordinary people on the life of celebrities. But celebrities are perceived as socially significant figures, models for ordinary people. Hence, the attention of the media to scandals involving celebrities produces a negative impact on society since it leads to the shift of values of people because scandals or even anti-social behavior, which is typical for some celebrities, is perceived by the public as a norm. Moreover, the mass media often focus on the violent behavior of celebrities that naturally affects the audience, especially the younger part of the audience, including children. In such a situation, news reports, for instance, involving examples of the violent of some celebrities, or just films where famous actors act violently change the perception of the violence by the public. As a result, the violence in media, especially if it involves celebrities, contributes to the growing aggression of ordinary people.
Thus, taking into account all above mentioned, it is possible to conclude that in the modern world media and celebrities play a very important role. In this regard, the attention of media to celebrities working in the music industry is particularly significant. Obviously, in the modern music industry the talent and personal qualities of artists are not important. At any rate, they secondary compared to the great role of media. In actuality, it is basically due to the media an artist can have a chance to become a celebrity. It is obvious that a new artist cannot share his/her work with the mass audience. Consequently, he/she needs a medium with the help of which he/she can convey his/her message, his/her music to the mass audience. In this regard, modern mass media are very useful because they have a huge impact on the audience, to the extent that it is even possible to speak about the formation of tastes and preferences of the audience by the mainstream media. Naturally, an artist also needs the assistance of a large and popular recording company but even the recording company is highly dependent on media and, basically, it rather functions as a mediator between an artist and media than an independent player. Finally, it is necessary to underline that media is the major means with the help of which an artist becomes mainstream because it is media that have the direct contact with the mass audience and, therefore, it is media that can determine the future of an artist.
Obviously, media can artificially draw the public attention to an artist since the audience readily consumes everything it receives from media. Moreover, as it has mentioned at the beginning of the paper, the audience actually has a little choice and it can hardly ignore information and message distributed by modern mass media. At the same time, it is necessary to remember that media and celebrities do not only focus the attention of the audience on certain artists, but they also form values and norms of the society. In fact, it is possible to estimate that the media and celebrity shape the cultural identity of the contemporary society.
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