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Posted at 10:13 AM ET, 08/25/2008

Comment Box: What Makes a Celebrity?

By Liz Kelly
Comment Box

Where is the threshold that delineates between a "mere" athlete and a celebrity athlete, or a "mere" politician and a celebrity one? Is it when they start taking their own words and actions too seriously in public? Is rising (or sinking) to celebrity-ness in the eye of the beholder? Or are only show biz entertainers (movies, TV, radio, music, etc.) eligible? -- from last week's Celebritology Live discussion

Andy Warhol -- recognizing our society's growing adulation of celebrity and our own pretensions to public renown, in 1968 predicted, "In the future, everyone will be world-famous for 15 minutes." So to answer your question in the simplest terms possible, I suppose celebrity could loosely be defined as someone who holds our interest for longer than that 15-minute allotment.

It's not quite that simple, though.

Rather than quantity, I think what you're asking about is quality. What is it that elevates a person from the hum-drum sea of anonymity to a one-on-one Barbara Walters interview or the breathless heights of non-stop tabloid coverage or, in the last decade or so, marks an individual as paparazzi bait?

I'm not sure, actually. No hard-and-fast formula exists that will result in guaranteed fame. Honest, people have tried -- hence Ali Lohan's attempt to recreate the lightning that struck sister Lindsay or the pitiable cast of characters who daily make up most of the items cycling through TMZ.com. Celebrities spring to life from myriad sources -- from Hollywood (take your pick), football teams (Deion Sanders) the Olympics (Michael Phelps) and even the comparatively dry soil of business (Bill Gates) and literature (J.K. Rowling.)


Click image for full-sized graphic. (Liz Kelly for washingtonpost.com)

And, to further confuse things, there are degrees of celebrity; levels if you will. Perhaps it would help to think of celebrity as resembling Dante's circles of hell. Each smaller circle representing a more concentrated and potent form of celebrity. At the center, you might find Madonna and Tom Cruise, while Taylor Hicks and Tila Tequila orbit around them in more cacophonous, frivolous (and sinful) outer bands.

As you can see from the chart, name recognition doesn't guarantee that you will be breathing the same rarefied air that keeps Brangelina fresh and relevant. No matter how badly Khloe Kardashian may want to be a star, she's still just bottom-of-the-barrel fodder for "Celebrity Apprentice."

So, though I may not be able to give you a textbook definition of celebrity, I think we can all agree on one thing: we know star power when we see it.

(Last week's Creative Captioning results will appear in this space tomorrow.)

By Liz Kelly  | August 25, 2008; 10:13 AM ET
Categories:  Comment Box  
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Comments

does tom cruise borrow one of xenu's dc-10's to visit his wife, katie holmes, on planet crackpot, when he's not busy sitting/jumping on oprah's couch?

Posted by: konflikt | August 25, 2008 10:34 AM | Report abuse

So, we have Kim on Dancing with the Stars and Khloe on Celeb Apprentice? Yuck. Then again, does anyone watch Celeb Apprentice anymore?

Posted by: WDC 21113 | August 25, 2008 10:51 AM | Report abuse

What makes a celebrity is how much the public is interested in following them...to "celebrate" them, if you want to play with the root word. That's why Michael Phelps is a celebrity now and not "just" an athlete, but the guy who came in fourth in the 100m butterfly is still "just" an athlete. What you really should be asking is why publicists, network execs, and producers get behind, say, the Kardashians and shine the Glow of Publicity on them.

Posted by: 23112 | August 25, 2008 10:55 AM | Report abuse

I just want to point out I knew who the Madden Brothers were long before Paris or Nicole. They are celebs in their own right.

Posted by: MGC | August 25, 2008 10:58 AM | Report abuse

"What you really should be asking is why publicists, network execs, and producers get behind, say, the Kardashians..."

What you should really be asking is how they found any standing room back there.

Posted by: ADHD | August 25, 2008 11:38 AM | Report abuse

ZING

Well played. :-D

Posted by: 23112 | August 25, 2008 11:44 AM | Report abuse

I gotta go with 23112 here. Phelps is the star, but he only got one those of gold medals because the anchor guy in relay kicked it into high gear moving from last to first. Without him, Phelps only has 7 medals. Yet it is Phelps that gets the Frosted Flakes box and not that guy.

So, Phelps is great and we want to talk about him and meet his dog. But, that guy, people barely remember his name.

The Kardashians are proof that you don't have to accomplish anything, or even be related to anyone really famous to somehow become a celebrity. You just gotta be pushy and trashy to at least reach the outer orbit.

Posted by: ep | August 25, 2008 11:45 AM | Report abuse

The last circle should be labeled dingleberries.

Posted by: M Street | August 25, 2008 11:55 AM | Report abuse

Jason Lezak Jason Lezak Jason Lezak

And it would be six but not for him. He was the hero in both relay gold medals.

It is worth noting, however, that Michael Phelps also sings Jason Lezak's praises every chance he gets.

Posted by: b | August 25, 2008 12:02 PM | Report abuse

Like the reference to Dante's Inferno. Minor quibble, Dante had them getting MORE sinful the further in you go. So the outer bands would actually be less sinful. But it's your blog and if you want to use centrifugal force instead of gravity, have at it.

Posted by: Red Dragon | August 25, 2008 12:06 PM | Report abuse

Also, Liz Kelly, your circles should feature the phrase, "Abandon Hope, All Ye Who Enter," in Every. Single. Ring.

Posted by: byoolin | August 25, 2008 12:11 PM | Report abuse

Red Dragon, one minor quibble with your post, and I hate to do this because it makes me sound pedantic, but technically centrifugal forces are fictitious forces and consequently are exerted outwards from the circle. A better description would have been to say it was a centripetal force, which can be applied in a non-inertial reference frame and acts towards the center of the circle.

Sorry to all for bringing physics into this. I feel a great sense of smame right now.

Posted by: Dorkus bringing today's physics lesson | August 25, 2008 12:16 PM | Report abuse

Good catch b- Phelps does tell everyone how much Lezak and the rest of his relay mates rock whenever he can. GO JASON LEZAK!

Liz, I love the line "breathing the same rarefied air that keeps Brangelina fresh and relevant". I have heard theories (mostly from Jon Stewart) that George Clooney sleeps on a block of ice to keep himself fresh.

Posted by: Bawlmer | August 25, 2008 12:17 PM | Report abuse

This graphic is one of the reasons I love this blog. We take celebrity news seriously, but not *too* seriously. Thanks, Liz!

Posted by: shinystuff | August 25, 2008 12:19 PM | Report abuse

"Like the reference to Dante's Inferno. Minor quibble, Dante had them getting MORE sinful the further in you go."

Well then, Liz's chart looks spot on to me.

Posted by: MoCoSnarky | August 25, 2008 12:21 PM | Report abuse

While I find this hilarious, I do disagree with some placements and would like to add in some others.

Def. agree wtih MGC about the Madden Brothers. They were standing alone before they got the true hangers-on in Paris and Nicole. Although, if there was another ring, I'd put them into the "My daddy makes lots of money, so I'm famous, too."

There should also be the Tween/Child Pop stars ring, which would include the likes of Miley, The Jonas Bros (barf), Vanessa Hudgins (sp?) et al.

Jennifer Aniston is Oprah-Worthy IMO, or at least a lot higher in rank than just a Tabloid person. Maybe even "I've arrived"

Don't forget Bono in the "party/cause ring." Sometimes I even forget he's with U2.

The Kardashians *should* be in the reality show purgatory, but I'd rather send them to Planet Crackpot. Why, exactly, are they famous?

Posted by: Em | August 25, 2008 12:30 PM | Report abuse

"The Kardashians *should* be in the reality show purgatory, but I'd rather send them to Planet Crackpot."

I'm not sure that there's enough room on that planet to handle so much Kardashian crack.

Posted by: Sasquatch | August 25, 2008 12:44 PM | Report abuse

The Kardashian ladies are one of those bizarre only in Hollywood celeb families. Their father Robert was O.J. Simpson's friend and lawyer and walked off with O.J.'s mysterious suitcase when he returned from Chicago after Nicole's murder. Their step-father is Bruce Jenner.

Posted by: Cleveland Brown | August 25, 2008 12:53 PM | Report abuse

I am tired of Michael Phelps.

There, I said it! SUE ME. And in Maryland, those words are blasphemy right now. Eight gold medals! Endorsements! Good for you! Now go. Shoo.

On the Baltimore Sun website, MP is talking about the Ravens and what he thinks of this year's team. Why an Olympic swimmer's opinion of a professional football team is considered newsworthy enough to require posted video content is, I suppose, evidence of "what makes a celebrity."

Either that or it's a prime example of what's wrong with this Kardashian-kraving kulture. Too much information passing as "celebrity news."

Will we hear Michael's opinions of Obama and Biden next during the Democratic National Convention? Perhaps Michael Phelps and Howard Dean can do dueling YEAAAAAAWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWs for the masses. Would America watch? You bet it would.

(Provided Howard keeps his shirt on, that is.)

Posted by: td must leave town the day of the baltimore phelps parade | August 25, 2008 12:55 PM | Report abuse

Centripedal. Who says Celebritology is frivolous?

Posted by: Red Dragon | August 25, 2008 12:55 PM | Report abuse

NOWAY LIZ!!
JEN the fanstasic JEN must be in the CENTER! She has her own WATER as featureed in CAT FANCY magazine and PERKY PET catalog. I feed it to all my birdieis and KITTY CATS!
I have a applikayed sweater with JEN and HEARTS on it and KITTY KATS!
LOVE TO JEN!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Posted by: luvjen | August 25, 2008 12:56 PM | Report abuse

***At the center, you might find Madonna and Tom Cruise, while Taylor Hicks and Tila Tequila orbit around them in more cacophonous, frivolous (and sinful) outer bands.***

Taylor Hicks MORE SINFUL than Madonna??
WTF ???

Posted by: sisymay | August 25, 2008 1:01 PM | Report abuse

The Madden Brothers had a stand-alone career before "The Simple Skanks", but outside of the DC/Baltimore area I think you'd be pretty hard pressed to find people who knew their name prior to getting with the girls. I don't know that I'd call them hanger-ons. They're more like Collateral Damage out there. I don't think Good Charlotte has benefitted all that much from the girls.

I think there are too many "celebrities" out there for bogus reasons. Let's remember if it wasn't for a video camera and a hotel room, no one would know who the hell Paris Hilton and Rick Solomon are. Not to mention the waste that has come from the 200 or so seasons of Survivor, The Apprentice, American Idol, The Amazing Race, The Flava of Love, The Rock of Love, The Bachelor and The Bachelorette. Our society has been flooded by names of people who have done very little in their life except get 15 minutes of fame because they were cast into the scripted world of reality tv. We are left with names like Rob & Amber, Omarosa, Trista & Ryan, Colby, Rupert, Kevin & Drew, Richard Hatch, Taylor Hicks and Charla and Mirna floating in our heads for doing nothing but making fools of themselves. The sad part is some of these people think they are still relevant (see Omarosa). Thankfully some have chosen to return to obscurity, but not until they fleeced network tv for weddings (Hello, Rob & Amber and Trista & Ryan!) When will the madness stop????

Posted by: Brutal | August 25, 2008 1:02 PM | Report abuse

dont post about phelps and beckham and other soccer players. the "lizards" get all crazy and start hating on whomever starts posting about them. especially jake e poo and td! all they want to talk about is paris hilton and carrot top.

Posted by: be careful! | August 25, 2008 1:19 PM | Report abuse

"I think there are too many "celebrities" out there for bogus reasons."

I must agree with Brutal. Why hasn't E! done a reality show to winnow down celebrities yet? You get a batch of C and D listers from other reality shows and test them on their ability to remain relevant (as listed by appearances in People) and self-employed (through photo shoots, acting or singing jobs). Winner gets a supporting role in the next Michael Bay movie; losers have to return to obscurity and stay out of the press for the next five years. We could eliminate the Kardashians, the Lohans, and three-quarters of VH1's fall schedule in one fell swoop.
Or you could just let them loose on Ted Nugent's ranch and tell them you're filming the movie adaptation of "The Most Dangerous Game".

Posted by: Bawlmer | August 25, 2008 1:19 PM | Report abuse

I too am tired of Michael Phelps and am pretty sure that there are many, many people in Charm City who are also tired of the man.

Can't we move on to something else?

Posted by: B'More Cat and Celebritology Lover | August 25, 2008 1:21 PM | Report abuse

"all they want to talk about is paris hilton and carrot top."

paris is nuthin but yahoo serious wuz the best moovee evah!!!!

Posted by: luvcarrottop | August 25, 2008 1:25 PM | Report abuse

"Winner gets a supporting role in the next Michael Bay movie;"

***************************************

Why would you even suggest that we should have another Michael Bay movie, haven't we suffered enough?

Posted by: Anonymous | August 25, 2008 1:30 PM | Report abuse

"Or you could just let them loose on Ted Nugent's ranch and tell them you're filming the movie adaptation of "The Most Dangerous Game"."

I love it. Cue announcer:

"This week on Celebrity Cull..."

then zoom in on the guests' eyes as Ted loads up and realize what's really going on.

Posted by: ADHD | August 25, 2008 1:33 PM | Report abuse

Here's an epistemological question:

Is Margaret Thatcher still a celebrity in her own mind?

Posted by: Sasquatch | August 25, 2008 1:33 PM | Report abuse

"Is Margaret Thatcher still a celebrity in her own mind?" --Sasquatch

Yes, she is. Margaret Trudeau, not so much.

Posted by: td always confused these two ladies | August 25, 2008 1:38 PM | Report abuse

NOWAY LIZ!!
JEN the fanstasic JEN must be in the CENTER! She has her own WATER as featureed in CAT FANCY magazine and PERKY PET catalog. I feed it to all my birdieis and KITTY CATS!
I have a applikayed sweater with JEN and HEARTS on it and KITTY KATS!
LOVE TO JEN!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Posted by: luvjen | August 25, 2008 12:56 PM


can you post a pic of the sweater? maybe you can make one for me too! you should make another one that has a pic of Anjelina witha big X in front of it.

TEAM JEN

Posted by: team jen | August 25, 2008 1:46 PM | Report abuse

"Why would you even suggest that we should have another Michael Bay movie, haven't we suffered enough?"

True, true; I should make two addenda to my statement.

1. I did not say that anyone had to WATCH the movie.

2. "Supporting role" is a broad term that encompasses everything from "pillar of human flame" to "victim of flesh-eating virus" to "blind pedestrian! Fifty points!".

Posted by: Anonymous | August 25, 2008 1:49 PM | Report abuse

Whoops, that was me at 1:49.

Posted by: Bawlmer | August 25, 2008 1:50 PM | Report abuse

Brutal and Bawlmer,

Wait a minute. Who celebrates celebrities? We do. As Pogo aka Walt Kelly said, "We have met the enemy, and he is us."

Posted by: Red Dragon | August 25, 2008 1:50 PM | Report abuse

Anyone wanna lay odds that Dina Lohan has tried to call Donald Trump and get Ali Lohan on the next Celebrity Apprentice????

She's on Omarosa's level of stardom...

Posted by: Brutal | August 25, 2008 1:55 PM | Report abuse

Anyone wanna lay odds that Dina Lohan has tried to call Donald Trump and get Ali Lohan on the next Celebrity Apprentice????

She's on Omarosa's level of stardom...

Posted by: Brutal | August 25, 2008 1:55 PM


I guess dina didn't wear lindsay's knee padded leggings that day.

Posted by: juju | August 25, 2008 2:08 PM | Report abuse

"...Winner gets a supporting role in the next Michael Bay movie; losers have to return to obscurity and stay out of the press for the next five years..." - Posted by: Bawlmer

*****

Anon, your question ("Haven't we suffered enough?") misses the essence of Bawlmer's prize offering, which is best described as "six of one, a half-dozen of the other."

td, nice pun on Maggie.

Posted by: byoolin | August 25, 2008 2:15 PM | Report abuse

I agree, when you are asked an opinion on something unrelated to your area of expertise (Phelps and the Ravens, any celebrity and politics), you have entered Dante's Circle.

But, what have Mirna and Charla done other than return for the All-Star Edition of Amazing Race? they are not like Romber who pop up on any reality show they can get their hands on, even if they have to make one up.

Posted by: ep | August 25, 2008 2:18 PM | Report abuse

The graphic doesn't take "cruisienss" or Opracity" into account.

Posted by: Curmudgeon | August 25, 2008 2:19 PM | Report abuse

2. "Supporting role" is a broad term that encompasses everything from "pillar of human flame" to "victim of flesh-eating virus" to "blind pedestrian! Fifty points!".

*****

Last night I watched a little of Dawn of the Dead and at some point I told Mr. sunnydaze that I wish I could have played "On Fire Zombie # 7". I really think that role could have catapulted me at least to the outer ring of celebrity, no?

On topic, I think that all of these people are celebrities because we, the people, watch them and talk about them and even encourage their bad behavior. That Omarosa person would still be one of the unknown masses if we didn't pay any attention to her. Same for the younger Lohan girl (sorry luvlinsey) - if we stopped paying attention to the clearly scripted attention seeking behavior (accidently auditioned for a porn director indeed), she would fade away (and hopefully her mother would follow her).

Posted by: sunnydaze has two cents | August 25, 2008 2:23 PM | Report abuse

Sas sez:
"Is Margaret Thatcher still a celebrity in her own mind?"

Mudge sez:
"Dunno. Maggie forgets."

Posted by: Curmudgeon is wicked and will be punished for that | August 25, 2008 2:27 PM | Report abuse

Mudge, are you implying that the Iron Lady's mind is a bit rusty?

Posted by: Sasquatch | August 25, 2008 2:43 PM | Report abuse

Sas sez:
"Is Margaret Thatcher still a celebrity in her own mind?"

Mudge sez:
"Dunno. Maggie forgets."

Posted by: Curmudgeon is wicked and will be punished for that | August 25, 2008 2:27 PM

I vote to commute any punishment Mudge feels is needed. It was wicked funny and since we let Sas off the hook for the Christina Applegate comment last week, how can we ask Mudge to accept punishment for this. No harm, no foul!!!!

Posted by: Brutal | August 25, 2008 2:43 PM | Report abuse

Saw "Tropic Thunder" this weekend and, much as I dislike him, have to give props to Cruise. He was channeling Harvey Weinstein and Scott Rudin to perfection. It was a tour de force, really--I could not stop laughing.

Posted by: hermespal | August 25, 2008 2:44 PM | Report abuse

In the Celebritology Universe, who is the Potentate of Planet Crackpot? Jerry Springer? What would be the Potentate's title? Crack Head? Does Plant Crackpot have a crack in it if the Kardashians are not there? Does Planet Crackpot have a pot to pi$$ in?

Questions, questions, I have questions.

Posted by: Sasquatch wants to know | August 25, 2008 2:47 PM | Report abuse

All this talk of Maggie Thatcher has reminded me--there was a show on in England when she was still PM (and for the life of me I can't remember what it was called) featuring puppet versions of various famous, political or royal persons. MT was always portrayed wearing a man's suit and barked imperiously. So she's sitting at the head of a table with her cabinet members (invariably portrayed as weak twits):

Waitress: What will you have, sir?
Thatcher: Steak.
Waitress: How would you like that cooked?
Thatcher: Raw.
Waitress: And the vegetables?
Thatcher: They'll have the same!

Posted by: hermespal | August 25, 2008 2:50 PM | Report abuse

Sas, I think the Kardashians are eligible for a ticket on the manhattan project, to launch them to planet crackpot.

Posted by: hermespal | August 25, 2008 2:51 PM | Report abuse

hermespal, it was called The Spitting Image. It's cast of characters later expanded to include American pols such as Ronnie Reagan and Tip O'Neil. The show was as funny as hell.

Posted by: Sasquatch remembers that show | August 25, 2008 2:52 PM | Report abuse

It was as funny as the Third Circle of Hell.

Posted by: Sasquatch does Dante | August 25, 2008 2:54 PM | Report abuse

Sasquatach asks:

"Mudge, are you implying that the Iron Lady's mind is a bit rusty?"

Mudge replys:

Rusty?

Actually, from all accounts I'd say that Mrs Thacher's mind is totally corroded.

Owe the humanity!

And thanks for letting me off the hook, Brutal.

Posted by: Curmudgeon | August 25, 2008 2:56 PM | Report abuse

THANK YOU Sasquatch--it was on the tip of my brain, so to speak. I lived in England for a year and that show was a must-see. Totally irreverent and freaking hilarious.

Posted by: hermespal | August 25, 2008 3:02 PM | Report abuse

I found it! Didn't remember it quite right:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=33YUALnF3JY

Posted by: hermespal | August 25, 2008 3:23 PM | Report abuse

I live in Odenton and can't get enough Phelps news. Guess it's just a matter of opinion since I can't get the hype in Beckham (or however he spells it) among others.

Posted by: Hmmm... | August 25, 2008 3:31 PM | Report abuse

Great diagram, Liz, but I would swap the positions of the "Daily Irritants" and "Paparazzi/Tabloid Darlings" - I feel there is wayyy more Paris Hilton et al. in my life than Barbara Walters et al. Put another way, I'd say Jennifer Aniston definitely has a more concentrated form of celebrity than Sherri Shepard.

Posted by: h3 | August 25, 2008 3:37 PM | Report abuse

Oh man! hermespal hit the nail on the head- Tom Cruise in "Tropic Thunder" is utterly hilarious. There is a scene involving him dancing to a song called "I Love Tha P****" that had my movie buddy and I on the floor. He's still creepy, but I was able to forget the Crusiness through the credits.

Posted by: Bawlmer | August 25, 2008 3:50 PM | Report abuse

Made funnier by the fact that Tom doesn't "do" the p thang..

Posted by: possum | August 25, 2008 3:56 PM | Report abuse

ARRRRRUUUUUGGGGGGHHHHHHHHH!

What's the "p thang"?

Posted by: Curmudgeon's enquiring mind wants to know | August 25, 2008 4:07 PM | Report abuse

"Made funnier by the fact that Tom doesn't "do" the p thang.."

Snark with a captial S!!!

Posted by: Sasquatch bows in possum's direction | August 25, 2008 4:07 PM | Report abuse

Mudge, the "p thang" is a synonym for cat that is often used as a vulgar expression for female genitalia.

Posted by: Sasquatch | August 25, 2008 4:08 PM | Report abuse

I read this post to help me detach from my day, and sometimes it's hilarious. I don't know how you find time to contribute unless you're planted at a desk, but ..... enough with the Michael Phelps hating! He's just a kid, and he has worked hard. When you say he shouldn't comment on the Ravens, you obviously don't know why he was asked the question. The team sent him a signed jersey as a surprise. His sister tossed it to him after the first medal win. He's a fan, so why can't he comment when reporters ask? If you asked Michael if he's a celebrity now, he'd laugh. That means nothing to him; he wants to advance the sport. Get over yourselves and leave this kid alone. And yes, I'm from Towson. It might be a white bread burg, but the schools are better than those in the city.

Posted by: Patricia | August 25, 2008 4:11 PM | Report abuse

Phelps' accomplishments are impressive. Just one quibble, though: 23 years old is an adult.

Posted by: Anonymous | August 25, 2008 4:14 PM | Report abuse

Just going to throw this out there, but maybe Phelps is a Cowboys fan.

Posted by: Dorkus | August 25, 2008 4:15 PM | Report abuse

I actually didn't read the "I'm sick of Michael Phelps" posts as anti-Michael himself so much as anti-media-overload, which isn't really his fault. NBC has a thing for Olympic shmaltz (hence the constant camera presence of MP's mom--why not a bit more face time for his sisters?) and they made him "the face of the Olympics" which continued even after the swimming was done. It was Phelps overload. Having said that, I found his races absolutely thrilling and Jason Lezak is a GOD!

Posted by: hermespal | August 25, 2008 4:22 PM | Report abuse

So we can say pussycat, but not p****? Got it.

Posted by: Anonymous | August 25, 2008 4:22 PM | Report abuse

Just going to throw this out there, but maybe Phelps is a Cowboys fan.

Posted by: Dorkus | August 25, 2008 4:15 PM

More likely Phelps is a Fan of Dorothy.

Posted by: Anonymous | August 25, 2008 4:24 PM | Report abuse

"So we can say pussycat, but not p****? Got it."
Well, that's actually the title of the song, as per iTunes, asterisks and all.
...I didn't say it had to make sense.

Yeah, hermespal, I still like Michael Phelps, but maybe that's because I've intentionally minimized my exposure to Olympic schmaltz. And Jason Lezak is indeed forged from pure awesome.

And possum, that was magnificent. Well played, sir/madam; I salute you!

Posted by: Bawlmer | August 25, 2008 4:30 PM | Report abuse

Ack! You guys are sounding like the whiners who write in to People magazine about someone who wasn't anointed as one of their "50 Most Beautiful People" every year. Fame is relative. In the medical world, women swoon at the mention of Anthony Fauci (god, I hope he doesn't see this when he googles himself). Who knew Julio Castronueves before "Dancing With The Stars?" Racing enthusiasts. So everyone has their own personal favorites and least favorites, and there's no sense arguing who belongs in which circle of celebrity hell.

Let's get back to the centrifugal v. centripetal argument. That was good fun.

Posted by: Whatever | August 25, 2008 4:38 PM | Report abuse

Who knew Julio Castronueves before "Dancing With The Stars?" Racing enthusiasts.

Actually I think racing enthusiast were probably more acquainted with Helio Castronueves. Julio? Not so much.

Posted by: jes | August 25, 2008 4:49 PM | Report abuse

FOD is fine. Just don't go telling me Michael Phelps is a Scientologist.
Speaking of FOD, I have two words. Platform diving.

Posted by: possum | August 25, 2008 4:50 PM | Report abuse

If it's not too late in the day for this, I think we need to add "p thang" to the Glossary of Terms. Although it's not the only P thing Tom doesn't do (see: psychiatry, pharmaceuticals).

Posted by: BxNY | August 25, 2008 4:56 PM | Report abuse

To BxNY -

yess indeedy! "p thang" will be added to the glossary at once.

Posted by: Curmudgeon | August 25, 2008 4:59 PM | Report abuse

Possum, you mean FOD like the Aussie who won the men's 10-meter platform event, who's publicly out? The guy who was the only non-Chinese man to win a diving gold medal? Yeah, FOD like him is pretty cool.

Posted by: BxNY | August 25, 2008 5:03 PM | Report abuse

Thank you, Liz, for considering my question. I suspect that celebrity-ness (?) occurs when celebrity publicity machines crank up, or when celebs start taking their own words and actions in public too seriously.

Posted by: Nosy Parker | August 25, 2008 5:05 PM | Report abuse

BxNY, I suspect the reference to platform diving was probably meant to be the synchronized platform event. Those boys have to be VERY close.

I agree with you--anyone with the nerve to jump off a three story building and do flips and twists into water is a total stud in my book, be they male, female, FOD or not.

Posted by: hermespal | August 25, 2008 5:55 PM | Report abuse

Oh don't misunderstand. I loved the platform diving and was screaming my head off for the gold medal winner.
But rhythmic gymnastics with all the crotch shots skeeved me out. Or maybe it was just the hoola-hoop event that was worse than the others.
Anyway, I'd rather watch a bunch of mans in Speedos.

Posted by: possum | August 25, 2008 6:23 PM | Report abuse

Well, possum, I certainly have to agree with you there. I detest rhythmic gymnastics and can't for the life of me figure out how it maintains status as a "sport". But the same could be said for a lot of summer Olympic events.

Posted by: hermespal | August 25, 2008 6:36 PM | Report abuse

"You just gotta be pushy and trashy to at least reach the outer orbit."

EP, that so reminded me of high school. Most of the popular girls weren't the nicest people. I recall thinking even back then, jeez, all you need is a big mouth to get people to pay attention to you. Most of them were loud, phony - attention seekers. As an adult, I recognized how that dysfunctional neediness prompted them to crave attention and what they thought was adulation. They were also very narcissistic in that they only acknowledged those within their sphere and acted s though everyone else invisible. Funny thing is, while some wingnuts may have idolized them, most people outside of their realm couldn't stand their obnoxiousness.

The media has much to do with celebrity. There is a dysfunctional relationship between the hunted and the hunter. You also can be sure who is in what role.

There is also a need on some of our partss to be able to say, tsk tsk - look at that bozo. All the $ and talent in the world and they're so effed up. What losers. I wonder if the more stressful life is, e.g., heat oil prices, gasoline prices, etc - the more we need to giggle over the foibles of some jerk who lives in a $18M mansion who is on his 6th divorce. If we can't control all the events around us, look at this butthead who can't control himself. Life isn't so bad after all.

Funny how some actors - Meryl Streep, Pacino, et al, manage to live pretty private lives. Generally it seems, the more talented/gifted you are, the less you need all the hoopla. You do your work and back off into your real life.

I was just thinking also that many years ago, there was Photoplay and similar magazines with stories about "Hollywood stars." The Kard-ass-ians and Hiltons of the celebrity world didn't exist. I think the studios and publicity agents pumped out most of those stories to keep up movie attendance. There was little scandal that I can recall. It's not that tacky, tawdry stuff didn't happen, it was controlled. Now it's anything goes. Reflection of society, eh?

Posted by: thinking one | August 26, 2008 7:59 AM | Report abuse

Opps - typo

re the hunter and the hunted... You also can'T be sure who is in what role.

Posted by: thinking one | August 26, 2008 8:07 AM | Report abuse

I'm kind of suprised that Britney Spears wasn't anywhere on that graphic...or did I miss her?

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