Article By: Eilfie Music
Andy Warhol said it best: “In the future everybody will be world famous for fifteen minutes.” In a sense, he was correct. Many people either want to be on T.V. or to know someone who is on television. This is not a bad thing; it’s human nature to want to be known, to be seen, to be heard. Today, television is not the only way people can achieve this. Now, with the internet, you can become known by thousands with a click of a button. Internet celebrities – “cyberstars” – are people who became famous due to a Facebook page, Myspace, blog, self-publishing, or Youtube. They generate their own content and control what is shown to the public and develop a following that way. Depending on how large a following they develop, the media such as T.V. and magazines gets wind of them, and boosts them even higher into the mainstream. These people have risen to celebrity status just by posting on the net.
The wanting to be the center of attention is not a new thing, but being a performer for an audience has not always been accepted in society. Today we think of actors of either stage or screen as iconic figures, but a century ago they were the outcasts. People went to the theatre and watched them, cheered them on, but to be associated with an actor would put a crimp in you social standing. To be on the stage was to have no morals. The actor or performer often was in the same category as the freethinking artists of the time such as the painters, poets, and writers – people who already did not go by the norm of society. If you were an actor, you walked a fine line between fame and outcast; not unfamiliar to what our modern actors deal with since they are constantly in the spot light. If you were a woman or even of a different race than Caucasian, then you had more to deal with. Women on stage were looked at as just above prostitutes by some. African-Americans could perform on stage for whites, but were still segregated. A well-known place in the 1920’s was called the “Cotton Club.” It featured black performers, but for the longest time would not allow black people into the club as patrons.
The respect gained by actors came later with the introduction of silent films. This was not a swift thing since the actors most often came from theatre, and this showed in their exaggerated motions in front of the camera. You also had actors who had no previous training in any sense of the word, and were “discovered”. The actors then are not so different from the ones today. From the very get-go, we had love, tragedy, scandals, and even fanatics or fans. When Rudolph Valentino (a.k.a. “Latin Lover”) died in 1926, men and women came from all over to his funeral, throwing themselves down in anguish and causing a riot.
Since the silent era, the idea of a career as an actor isn’t as unthinkable as it once was, though looked upon at times as maybe not the best choice. We now have a new breed of celebrities to add to this mix – reality celebrities, people who are famous for being themselves and being on T.V. This new kind of stardom is at the beginning stages of where the silent film actors were. The even smaller bubble within that is the paranormal celebrities. They deal with a combination of being reality celebrities, and talking about a subject that is semi-accepted in the general public.
The paranormal is already a fringe topic to start off with, but now you have average people (like the general audience) purposely going out and seeking the unknown when not so long ago many thought ghosts were scary or taboo. Ten years ago, there were paranormal groups, but not as many or as outspoken. Now each week a new group develops and creates a website. This sudden interest in going out to explore the haunted houses and old cemeteries can be directly linked to the introduction of paranormal reality shows. Many people didn’t think much about ghosts and what goes bump in the night until they saw people like themselves actively seeking out a haunting and not just during Halloween. We now have people going out on the weekend to ghost hunt or be part of an event like other people would go to a knitting club.
In a sense, when the general audience said it was “ok” to accept the paranormal, the rest of society felt it was ok to pursue the interest, while others felt they could open up finally about their personal experiences with hauntings or UFO. Just like when the silent film brought cheap entertainment to people who needed escape from reality, so has the genre of paranormal reality made the subject more accessible to the public. Cinema has grown and changed over the years to both improve itself and accommodate the masses. Will this also happen with the paranormal? What is next for the mass media of the paranormal? Will it grow and change with interest or will it fade and return to the underground? An idea like this is only as strong as those who keep pushing forward, improving on what is already there and working to make changes for the better.