The contemporary human society is characterized by the emergence of such a concept as the celebrity culture. According to Cashmore, celebrity culture is the culture that focuses on individuals who are popular due to some reasons (5). Some of the most influential celebrities are now related to popular culture including movie stars, singers, and so on. These people dictate styles, looks, and even ideas or preferences. Some people claim that there are various positive aspects of the modern celebrity culture as it has the potential to change the world for better (Chouliaraki 90). However, the potential is rather weak as celebrities still serve as the reflection, and at the same time, promotion, of the exiting trends. This paper explores the negative side of celebrity culture focusing on Angelina Jolie’s influence on contemporary society.
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Origins of the Celebrity Culture
Before discussing the way Angelina Jolie and other celebrities affect modern society, it is necessary to identify the origins of the celebrity culture. In simple terms, the consumerist society created the celebrity culture (Frigo 37). One of the fathers of the celebrity culture is Oscar Wilde who managed to market himself and become a celebrity in the USA during his American tour. The tools used included print advertisements that promoted and sold the writer as well as various products associated with his personality. Paparazzi have become the developers of the culture as they market celebrities with the help of their shots taken on different occasions (McNamara 17). People learn about their idols through the media, and photos can be seen as some of the most potent means used. Magazines, news, and TV programs are flooded with photos of celebrities.
Angeline Jolie as an Icon
Angelina Jolie is one of the most famous film stars whose photos are recognizable in every part of the world. Jolie is often called one of the most attractive and desirable women in the world. This status has been created by the roles she performed and thousands of pictures that have been taken. Apart from being a successful actress, Angelina Jolie is a UNICEF Ambassador (Chouliaraki 82). She advocates for the rights of children and women, she fights against poverty and donates significant funds to help those in need. These facts could be regarded as arguments in favor of the positive effect of celebrity culture as such deeds can inspire people to help others and donate.
Jolie as a Sexual Identity and Negative Effects of the Celebrity Culture
Nevertheless, when speaking about Angelina Jolie, the first thing coming to one’s mind is a photograph displaying the actresses’ sexuality. It has been acknowledged that the modern consumerist society focuses on female sexuality in the first place (Evans and Riley 268). People still see female celebrities (especially those associated with popular culture) as sexual identities. Even women focus on these features when speaking about celebrities and try to be or behave just like their icons (Evans and Riley 270). Importantly, the focus is on celebrities’ looks, clothes, possessions, lifestyles. Such deeds as humanitarian projects are not people’s priority, which means that celebrities tend to sell certain trends related to physical features rather than promote values or beliefs. People are still concerned about the way celebrities look rather than try to change the world for better.
Interestingly, Jolie is not that young girl exhibiting her sexuality in different ways. She is an adult woman and a mother of six children. Nevertheless, she is still a sex symbol. In her films, she tends to stress her sexuality. Jermyn and Holmes note that contemporary society is changing in terms of its focus on youth and the development of high tolerance of ageism, but the emphasis on sexuality persists (4). This trend is obvious in Jolie’s case.
Therefore, it is possible to state that the celebrity culture hurts the development of the society as it contributes to the prevalence of beliefs and trends that have little or nothing to do with such important values as compassion, friendship, and the like. Celebrities (perhaps, even against their will) teach people what to wear, how to look, and how to behave in public. The view of a woman as a sexual identity is promoted and enhanced by such celebrities as Angelina Jolie irrespective of her attempts to perform other roles.
In conclusion, it is possible to note that celebrity culture may have some positive aspects and effects, but its major impact on the development of society is still negative. This culture promotes the ideas and values of consumerism, which cannot be regarded as a positive influence. The culture, in general, includes people’s beliefs and moral values that are accumulated and transmitted through various channels (art, folklore, and so on). However, celebrity culture is not one of these channels. Modern people’s fascination with sexuality and lavish lifestyles cannot be regarded as proper values to be passed to new generations. The celebrity culture is a byproduct of the consumerist society that concentrates on material things. Angelina Jolie who tries to help children and people in need is still famous for her sexuality, her roles, and her relationships with men. Perhaps, major shifts will take place in society, and people will focus on celebrities’ deeds rather the way they look.
Cashmore, Ellis. Celebrity Culture. 2nd ed., Routledge, 2014.
Chouliaraki, Lilie. The Ironic Spectator: Solidarity in the Age of Post-Humanitarianism. Polity Press, 2013.
Evans, Adrienne, and Sarah Riley. “Immaculate Consumption: Negotiating the Sex Symbol in Postfeminist Celebrity Culture.” Journal of Gender Studies, vol. 22, no. 3, 2013, pp. 268–281.
Frigo, Nick. “Oscar Wilde and Popular Culture: The Creation of a Celebrity.” Agora, vol. 49, no. 4, 2014, pp. 36-41.
Jermyn, Deborah, and Su Holmes. “Introduction: A Timely Intervention – Unravelling the Gender / Age / Celebrity Matrix.” Women, Celebrity and Cultures of Ageing: Freeze Frame, edited by Deborah Jermyn and Susan Holmes, Springer, 2015, pp. 1-11.
McNamara, Kim. Paparazzi: Media Practices and Celebrity Culture. John Wiley & Sons, 2015.