There’s a company called Celeb-4-A-Day that allows mere mortals to rent paparazzi to look and feel famous. For a paltry $3000 you can treat yourself to the Super Star Package, which includes 6 paparazzi, a bodyguard, a publicist, and a black car you can play with for two whole hours! You might be wondering, “Who’s crazy enough to do that?” Lots of people, apparently. Celeb-4-A-Day has been around since 2007, but the most fascinating thing about it is how it really gets at our cultural moment and that thing Andy Warhol said about everybody being famous for 15 minutes.
Probably the most important aspect of fame, as well as the illusion of it, is the paparazzi photograph and the overbearing presence of photographers in general. You can’t be famous if nobody’s there to document it, right? In 1961 Daniel Boorstin, an American historian, wrote a book called The Image: A Guide to Pseudo-Events in America, a piece about what changed about American social life in the age of media. What he came up with is the “pseudo-event” or news for news sake — an event that’s reported or created simply to generate buzz about the event. Publicity stunts are pseudo-events. News conferences and press releases? Also pseudo-events. But the biggest pseudo-event of all is the celebrity, or what Boorstin wants us to think of as the human pseudo-event. A celebrity is just an event who gets talked about a lot.
Celeb-4-A-Day represents exactly what Boorstin was talking about all the way back in 1961. The irony is that sometimes looking famous or getting people to think you’re famous is really all it takes. So I guess the lesson is, if you want to be famous, you have to create your own buzz. You have to be your own pseudo-event.
But it’s not that easy! You also have to:
- Be so fabulous that you nat-tur-ally draw attention to yourself and get “discovered” while eating Chick-Fil-A at the local mall.
- Do something that will create your fan base.
- Live on “Page Six.”
- Have a time-lapsed online Look Book on a prominent site dedicated to you and your many looks.
- Have many layers of “people.”
- Get invited to secret parties, stay maybe 5-10 minutes.
- Receive gift bags at events, but don’t ever open them.
- Know how to work your “good” side on the red carpet.
- Only travel by black car/Lamborghini/etc.
- Have a Twitter feud with someone, which only gets more people interested in you.
- Release a sex tape and/or a D or T pic. Actually, everybody has a D pic, the difference is that YOUR D pic gets talked about on CNN.
- Buy a mansion with 32 bedrooms, 17 bathrooms.
- Get into a “relationship” (hahaha — a PR contract) with another celebrity.
- “Have” a baby and give it a stupid name that will get everyone talking about you and your stupid baby name.
- Always say you hate the paparazzi, but realize that without the paps and sensational gossip rags, nobody would know who you were, care about you, and without the paparazzi machine you would definitely still be in Chillicothe, Ohio working as a freelance cat sitter.
The thing I’ve always loved about paparazzi images is that the celebrity is almost never still. She or he is usually in transit, never content with where they are, always going someplace else, somewhere secret and really fabulous. They’re getting into and out of black cars, going into and out of amazing boutiques us lowly earthlings can’t afford. They’re constantly in transit because they have to be seen, to remind us of their presence. Why? Because they’re not real. Celebrities, who only really exist in a mediated way, are the ghosts of popular culture.