Recently, I have been perusing famous people’s Instagrams. I find it interesting to see how Jessica Biel or Chris Pratt live day to day — or rather, see what they chose to show me about how they live day to day. It’s fascinating how today’s celebrities choose to portray themselves to the public now that they have more control over their image than ever before.
Reader, I’m about to generalize about how famous people were viewed back in the day, and I’m not going to pretend that I’ve been on this Earth any longer than the 20 years that I have.
Okay? You’ve read the disclaimer? Let’s move on.
Back in the day, the only way people could get to know a celebrity would be through a talk show appearance, where every word that came out of said celebrity’s mouth and every question that the talk show host asked had been approved and processed by publicity experts. Later on, gossip magazines became another large source of exposure for celebrities, but unless the celebrity was featured in an interview, the content in those magazines would often (and are still often) not be approved by the celebrity themselves. Think of TMZ, People magazine, or the Daily Mail — gossip about a celebrity is almost never instigated by that celebrity.
But with social media, celebrities have an unprecedented opportunity to talk directly to their fans and to the public about whatever they want. They have a platform to share the work they’re doing, momentous occasions in their lives, or whatever merchandise they want to sell.
How a celebrity uses their social media reflects heavily on how the public views them. Let’s, for example, take a look at Oprah’s Twitter. She uses it to share tidbits about her projects like her movies or TV shows, and also gets a little political every once in a while. That social media presence is very different from one of the Kardashians’, who post about their TV show but also post sponsored content and pictures to remind their followers they exist, cementing their presence in as many lives as possible.
But this increased social media presence can also be a bad thing. While a celebrity can push their projects and stay relevant through it, they can also have major screw-ups. A controversial tweet can damage a reputation, and being political can alienate certain people from a celebrity’s audience. There have been many public apologies on social media, and whether people take them seriously is up in the air.
I find it intriguing that today we have a much more realistic view into who our celebrities are and what their lives are like. It can create a more cynical view of celebrity, or it can offer a decent sense of escapism for someone who wants to imagine what it would be like to be famous. Our view of celebrity is changing — it is becoming more personal. Whether it continues to get more personal or if a backlash is soon to come is yet to be determined.
So let’s wait it out, reader, and while we do it, scroll with me through a couple celebrity Instagrams.