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Celebrity South Africa

A celebrity or a public figure is a known or famous person who attracts the attention of the public and sometimes even media. The word comes from the Latin adjective celeber which means “numerous”, “famous”, “illustrious” or “that is celebrated”.

While fame is generally considered a prerequisite for celebrity status, it is not always enough. There must be a level of public interest, for that person, which may or may not be related to the reason for his or her reputation. Many celebrities are only for a certain period of time. Sometimes after appearing on a television show, or have done something exceptional to attract public attention, such as posting nudes or being the first to have done something. There are also particular celebrities who are famous only for those who appreciate a certain area. There are also who therefore regard them as celebrities (for example, celebrities of the world of dance).

Terms of celebrity

A public figure, such as a politician or the leader of a large, powerful company, may have certain fame. However you can become a celebrity only when the public or the media pride themselves on it. For example, Virgin’s director, Richard Branson, was a renowned businessman, but he became a celebrity only when he tried the round the world ball. On the other hand, entertaining personalities of show business such as actors or singers become celebrities even if they deliberately try to escape the attention of the media.

An individual can become famous through his job, successes or notoriety without necessarily having a family or relationships to help him. There are, however, families whose members each have a celebrity status. In Europe, members of royal families are generally celebrities in their country, especially when associated with a real or alleged scandal. In South Africa, it is the case of certain families of politicians like Tokyo Sexwale , or in the rich families like Gupta brothers.

Tango Ncetezo
Tango Ncetezo

Celebrity can become a goal in itself for the participants of the Reality TV games. Any individual can seek to make themselves known by videos that he or she would post on social media sites (Instagram, Facebook, YouTube) or blogs.

Scope of celebrity

A number of celebrities can be considered global, that is, their fame extends to the whole world and ignores the language barrier. They are often statesmen, movie stars, rock stars or elite athletes. Brigitte Bardot, Marilyn Monroe, Michael Jackson, Nelson Mandela, Angelina Jolie, John Lennon, David Beckham, Karl Lagerfeld and Alfred Hitchcock are examples.

Each country has its own system of celebrity, with a hierarchy of its own. In some countries, a celebrity must have acquired certain notoriety outside the country’s borders in order to obtain a status of national celebrity, but to a lesser extent than is expected of a global celebrity.

Sub-national entities, regions or cultural communities (linguistic, ethnic, religious) also have their own system of celebrities in the linguistic or cultural fields. For example Quebec, Puerto Rico or French-speaking Switzerland . Local journalists, politicians or regional artists can be local celebrities. For example, journalist Darius Rochebin, famous in French-speaking Switzerland, is practically unknown in the rest of Switzerland.

Studies of celebrity

The historian Antoine Lilti created the first celebrities in the middle of the 18th century with romantic artists (Goethe, Byron). Personalities linked to the “society of the spectacle” (Sarah Siddons, François-Joseph Talma) -Jacques Rousseau, Voltaire, Mirabeau, and Napoleon). They also considered that they know the popularity of their lifetime (unlike posthumous glory). Thanks to their mediatisation through the circulation of images (busts, engravings, ) and the press with an urban public which attaches more to their person than to their work.



According to the sociologist Nathalie Heinich, celebrity has a long history of the fame of the characters (spreading their names and stories associated with celebrity). This is before being extended in the nineteenth century to recognition through the development of massive diffusion of their image through photography and printing (the etymology of the term vedette, of the vedetta Italian, “observatory”, clearly shows this dimension of visibility). It ranks media personalities according to the origin of their “visibility capital.” Visibility motivated by a value (athletic or electoral performance, talent), accidental visibility (example of heroes of miscellaneous facts) and visibility that has no other (Television presenters, celebrities of reality show known mainly for their notoriety).

It was only in the 1970s that anglophone scholars began to analyze the phenomenon of celebrity. This was done through the Celebrity (or Star) Studies. According to Sofia Johansson, “the most recent analyzes of media and cultural studies (egGamson 1994, Marshall 1997, Giles 2000, Turner, Marshall and Bonner 2000, Rojek 2001, Turner 2004) Of “contemporary” celebrity. In the analyzes of the culture of celebrity, “fame and its constituent elements are conceived as a broader social process. It is also linked to widespread economic, political, technological and cultural developments. “