The captivating aspects of those famous are based on the connection a person makes to their attractiveness, energy, chemistry, story, music beats, lyrics, characters in movies, disposition, written words, appearance, how they have impact.....................................
People are attracted to celebrities for any of the mentioned reasons. Personally- I have my "crushes", those I find ironic/humorous, the music, the stories, and/or the films. There are varying amounts of investment in the celebrity even amount my friends. I don't really keep track of names, roles, 'gossip'- I am the one that says - "oh yeah, I know who you are talking about". Then there is the one who reads ALL the magazines; The one who follows the 'gossip sites'; The one who knows the bio- career list- up and coming projects- relationship status's- who they are in relationships with; The one who watches for up coming concert dates or shows; and The one who has "met" them.
Of course the famous- those that entertain us- and sometimes educate us are an aspect of the day-to-day life. We invite them into our homes, into our heads, we are curious about them beyond the art, we discuss their decisions as if they are our friends or family, we have strong ideas what they 'should' do- we are impressed- we are disappointed- we celebrate- and we mourn their loss.
I was thinking about the assignment given to us to explore a "pop star" through the eyes of art- performance- public identity and personal identity. I wasn't sure who I wanted to look into so I asked a few young people about 18 years of age who they thought was the "best" or most famous celebrity- who were they into right now. I was surprised by the varying answers especially with such a small group surveyed- This is what I got: Lil' Wayne; Jason Mraz; The one who sings 'forever young'; "I like that song Falling to Pieces & One Wish"; "Are you sure you want to ask me? I am into country!" I also asked my 9 year old- India Arie and my 12 year old- Mahalia Jackson! This brief window into young people really represents their surprising nature. As adults we think we have it all figured out. We think we know the answers before the questions are asked.
The celebrity that I thought would be interesting to look into was Mary J. Blige considering I am going to Lilith Fair just to see her. (I know what your thinking) Anyway, I am aware of the Primary Identity: Singer-Songwriter-Hip Hop Artist. I am also somewhat aware of the personal story before the fame. MjB is from NYC- the projects- it was not an easy way to grow up. I also know she came to fame barely out of adolescents. Listening to MjB's albums alone will reflect the maturity of growing from a girl to a woman.
Today in 2010 from what I could see MjB has the professional or producer elements down. MjB as a brand and a product is effective. I say this not in a dehumanizing way. I say this to reflect the idea that the art of music, the images of a person (Just thought of a good example: Diana Ross & Dream Girls: Dream Girls is fiction but mirrored images of actual Diana Ross images are constant within the film. Those images are the 'product' of the professional Diana Ross)
okay back to MjB- the glimpses into the relationships or life experiences that make up their identity, the wardrobe, in MjB's case her large sunglasses, and how she talks to or about her fans. She calls her fans- "fam".
MjB has released 7 albums; she is on MySpace; Facebook; and Twitter. The Twitter has her following 42 other Twitters and outlines the page with her new album as backdrop. Fans can sign-up to be part of her page to be connected to her artistry, image, and activities. There are links to songs and ways to purchase songs, concert lists, and recent videos. Fans can leave posts and MjB can respond or give a status update. Everything written on all her pages is in 3rd person except for a few sentences by her to the "fam".
The above website had some interesting insight into MjB's struggle with fame and fortune. She has talked about not having the education to be smart with her money or her image. She had to learn that the hard way. The most interesting idea mentioned in the bio was that after some bad press and taboo 'mistakes' (wearing hip hop gear instead of an evening gown to an awards show) MjB began working with a Public Relations firm on her reputation and image. This experience was more than that for MjB though. This experience provided her with an opportunity to learn about the world outside of her hood. It allowed her not have to be a certain way. This is what we do in youth work all the time. We expose young people to new ideas and experiences in order to allow them to have the power to decide what their life is going to be about.
If we are going to begin to talk about what's "real" and what's "true" we have to look at the fruit- as the scripture says. MjB's fruit lies within the foundation she has started. Creating a place for young woman to find confidence, education, skill building, and power. It's clear from the music of MjB and the glimpses into her personal life story MjB recognizes the impact of strong safe adults for young people.
As someone who appreciates the evolution of MjB's music: I respect the Artist (The private moments-the things I do not need or want to know), I am taken in by the Artist (The Public Self- I listen to the music, I buy the albums, I watch when she is on Oprah, and I am going to the concert. I even share these experiences with those in my life.), I admire the Artist (The Performance, the business women, the Philanthropist)
Musicians (Celebrity) provide for the public an art form. Sometimes that art is purely entertainment. Sometimes it provides an individual or a specific group of people a connection to something greater then themselves. I believe, as a society- the public- would fare better in respecting the artist. The grace to live a life outside of serving the masses especially in the way the masses expect! I believe the human element is often times set aside because an artist has shared their 'voice' and that the public robs it through ownership.