The New York Post’s Page Six Magazine reports on a recent development that brings up a few questions for anyone interested in celebrities. It is now possible to hire people to create celebrity-style spectacles for “regular” folks:
Whispers of “Who was that?” can be heard. Ashley Tisdale? Miley Cyrus? One of the photographers has the answer: “Ariel. Don’t you know who she is?” Probably not. In fact, Ariel Jacobs is just a regular teen from Island Park, Long Island, celebrating her sweet 16. The shutterbugs? Hired by her parents from Celeb 4 A Day, a company that provides A-list experiences . . .
One of the first things that jumps out is the phrase “just a regular teen.” Ariel, in other words, is not an authentic celebrity–is not, that is, someone whom paparazzi would photograph for free. But what is it that makes paparazzi follow someone? It’s money. In the celebrity gossip mag world the money comes from customers desperate to gawk at familiar faces. I would perhaps not blow too many minds by pointing out that many of the most photographed celebrities possess no visible qualities beyond those they share with Ariel: teen-aged, cute.
This boundary-blurring becomes more overt later in the same article, as a young man describes his experience with hired paparazzi:
With Mike on his cell and Jameson donning dark shades, the duo acted completely unmoved by the chaos surrounding them. Two statuesque beauties on the street tried to get their attention “but we couldn’t stop. We were being rushed along by the photographers like real celebrities,” Mike recalls. “These were good-looking girls who thought we were famous. That was very cool. This is New York—there are celebrities everywhere. Who really knows who’s famous or not? I mean, I could be famous next week.
And he’s right–he could be famous next week. For the love of god, look at Joe the plumber. He is now trying to get a book deal on the strength of his having acted as a failed handhold for the flailing McCain campaign.
Obviously I’ve only touched on these matters. I’ll make one final point. I can easily imagine savvy publicists hiring such firms to assist in the birthing of new celebs. Why not? The biggest barrier to being famous these days is the challenge of getting your face in front of enough people. Can we not imagine a young Julia Allison hiring these folks to help her boost her image?