On April 14, I led a discussion about celebrity culture in the age of the internet including topics like parasocial relationships, internet celebrities in the mainstream media, and idolization. The overall consensus among participants was that there are problems on both sides, from celebrities and fans. Parasocial relationships are becoming much more common with the ability to experience more of an allusive celebrity, even possibly interacting with them, and this boundary between reality and imagination needs to be more closely upheld by fans. But on the other hand, many participants recognized some celebrities’ tendency to feed into this narrative and increase their fame by generating an attached fanbase. One specific celebrity is Jack Harlow, who interacts in a flirty manner with almost everyone he is filmed around, including fans, and accepts and reciprocates any flirts that come from fans, leading them to believe that they have a chance and could be the special one. Other instances like this include One Direction’s Night Changes music video showing P.O.V. dates with each of the band members and Brittany Broski referring to her followers as “friends” despite there being millions of them on her so-called private account. Other topics from the discussion included “drama” youtubers such as Trish Paytas and Tana Mongeau who only are famous for being controversial, yet never seem to lose their followers. The idea of people “hate-watching” only fuels their ability to get involved with controversy for shock-value, and therefore, views.
Despite these criticisms of celebrities, another general consensus was that this newfound internet fame is an amazing thing for those who deserve the opportunity. Specific examples of these worthy people included male beauty influencers like Bretman Rock, other LGBTQ+ influencers, and Emily Uribe, who clearly cares about what she does and is grateful for everything. These positives among the ability for such negatives shows that good can come from the internet for celebrity culture.