10 May What’s the Definition of Celebrity?￼
A little more than a decade ago when someone used the word “celebrity” everyone knew what it meant—a famous actor, musician, or sports figure—someone associated with a large audience watching them do their thing. Today, because of social media and recording capabilities in the palm of our hands, everyday people can have large audiences watching them do their thing, but does that make them a celebrity?
The answer is no. There are those who would argue that someone with 6 million followers on TikTok, 20 million on Instagram and 15 million on Twitter certainly qualifies as a celebrity, our question would be to whom?
So what is the definition of “celebrity”? According to Wikipedia: Celebrity is a condition of fame and broad public recognition of an individual or group as a result of the attention given to them by mass media.
Note that neither definition said anything about “influence,” the core component tied to those who have become social media stars.
The Wikipedia definition of celebrity is spot on as it notes the keywords of “broad public recognition,” and “…attention given to them by mass media.”
We are frequently asked the question of “What defines a celebrity,” and our answer is “Anyone well known, in the public-eye, within their field of discipline and can include those in industries other than entertainment or sports such as fashion, business, politics, literature, famous chefs, astronauts and scientists as examples.”
When we say “public-eye” we’re referring to media coverage and the fact that there’s an audience who wants to know more about this person.
And it’s the audience who will define whether someone is a celebrity or not. If Justin Bieber showed up at a senior citizens home they would be grateful for the visitor, but very unlikely that anyone would know who he was and therefore, not a celebrity. Conversely, if Connie Stevens attended a spring break event, she would not be a celebrity there, but the seniors would certainly remember “Cricket” from “Hawaiian Eye” among her other talents and credits from yesteryear.
So, is a 6 million followers TikTok star a celebrity? Among her followers, yes! To the rest of us, no.