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Celebrity Influence: How are the Rich and Famous Coloring Our Lives?

Celebrities are not a unique phenomenon in the global sense, but today’s definition of celebrity is perhaps an unusual result of society and culture over the last few hundred years. Influencers are king, as social media platforms continue to expand beyond other creative and public-facing industries to define entertainment for many. It is no secret that celebrities have their own impacts on people, but what does today’s landscape mean for consumers of culture?


A New Media Age

We are well and truly living in a renaissance period for media and communication. Social media has become ingrained in our daily lives, while touch-interactive communications devices and instant worldwide connections have been accessible to younger generations from birth. This has had an undeniable impact on the way our society is shaped – and the way we interact with notions of celebrity.

One particularly massive change has surfaced through the emergence of parasocial relationships as phenomenon. Parasocial relationships describe the one-sided connection that media consumers can feel with content creators, to the extent that fans of a particular YouTube personality or social media influencer will feel kinship, or even friendship – despite no personal connection existing.

Parasocial relationships – or, at least, their increased likelihood and profile in today’s media landscape – are new and fertile ground for aspirational living. This can run at odds with what real life looks like, though, as influencers and celebrities are incentivized to show their best side. Just as cinema seeks to achieve an image, so too do social media stars, whether it’s the perfect home, perfect car or perfect day in the Miami sun.


Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous

Speaking of which, lifestyle content has exploded in popularity with the emergence of social media platforms. Celebrity lifestyles were already highly coveted, as red-carpet appearances and A-list parties routinely made magazine and tabloid covers. Today, when jet-setting celebs take private plans to beachside locations with their celeb friends, the evidence is there for all to consume immediately.

While aspects of this aspirational lifestyle are attainable, whether through private jet providers like Vista or clubs and venues that offer more VIP style treatment, the living of this lifestyle day-in day-out is untenable – and often not even true for the influencers sharing those images in the first place.


Products and the Cult of Celebrity

This lifestyle aspiration naturally creeps through into more tangible products, too, with fans and followers more likely to invest in things tacitly endorsed by the celebrities they enjoy. Brands and marketing agencies alike have taken notice, with product placement and sponsored content now commonplace in influencer timelines and other forms of celebrity content.

Influencer marketing has become so prevalent that legislative bodies have already had to intervene, with the FTC examining routes to more formal lawmaking around the signaling of sponsored content. This is because younger audiences might not see the difference between an organic post and an advertisement, further skewing aspirations.


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