Clickbait Stalemate: Has technology ruined what it means to be a celebrity?

We’re all guilty of lusting over designer gowns, saving up for to-die-for shoes and obsessing over gorgeous bags worn by our favourite stars. Good looks, great wardrobes and fantastic lives all just seem to be wrapped up in one neat package that is: celebrity. The selfies, the red carpet photographs and the candid paparazzi shots show our favourite stars in every way possible. But as I pour over the style sections and scroll through Instagram, I can’t help but notice something missing from these pictures and I find myself asking; have we lost the glitz and glamour of old Hollywood?

Marilyn Monroe, a style icon to women and girls the world over was an enigma to many save from the seldom printed news stories about her private life. The Beatles, at one time, the most famous men on the planet, didn’t have their daily routines and family lives splashed across the internet for the world to gawp over. In fact, there was no internet, there were no digital cameras or smartphones and there was certainly no snapchat.

The mystery and magic surrounding movie stars of days gone by is to some extent without comparison in today’s Hollywood and the red carpets are somewhat less renowned than they were previously. There is less magic in the air at the MET Gala because there is less mystery behind how the sirens of film and television are so darn beautiful. Snapchatting the ‘glam’ experience has thrown any possibility of that in the recycle bin.

In today’s world, technology is everything. It’s everywhere and it’s all seeing. Celebrities really are just like us which we know from the constant coverage of their public and more disturbingly, their private lives, in tabloids and online. The most recent and transparent coverage of celebrities has come in the form of social media. The Kardashian’s attempts to document their every experience on their Snapchat stories has opened up a whole new connection between celebrity and fans and it seems the only way to stay relevant is by mass amounts of oversharing.

We’ve come to expect this from reality television personalities and the like, but now even our most celebrated Hollywood A-Listers are having their painful private lives laid bare in the name of knowledge and entertainment, albeit, not through choice. Brangelina’s divorce has led to mass speculation over whether Brad Pitt is a fit father, as well as their court proceedings being dissected by the tabloids. But weren’t they untouchable? Hollywood royalty? The way their relationship came to be would suggest that they are more suited to public news coverage than many of their Hollywood counterparts. However, their revere in their field led us to believe that they were above the scrutiny of the common press.

The way that many celebrities are constantly updating their fans on what they’re doing and who they’re with has fooled us into thinking that we are entitled to know everything and anything – no matter how painful, about our favourite stars. Technology has ruined celebrity in the way that we now know they are just like us, they are not sent from the stars or exempt from their own problems. Us mere mortals have been raised on too much knowledge, not enough privacy and a false sense of entitlement as to what we have the right to know.

We know what celebrities want us to know, their diets, their workouts, their ‘glam’ routine before an event and sometimes even their favourite family moments. But in giving us this access to their lives we can’t help but want more. We feel as if we know them, and friends share everything with each other, right?

The problem is a scary one, with Kim Kardashian West’s oversharing on Instagram leading to her being robbed at gunpoint in 2016. We have such a huge insight into the lives of reality TV personalities, musicians, models and even Hollywood movie stars that nothing is seen as crossing that boundary between public and private. The allure of old Hollywood where things were enigmatic and awe inspiring, is gone and in its place, is a Hollywood without the same mystery that previously surrounded the stars, can you imagine Gene Kelly taking a dog-filter selfie? Neither can we, but it’s the same premise as the celebrities of today doing the same thing.

In order to save the mystery of Hollywood, a little bit of privacy needs to be injected back into the lives of celebrities the world over. Right now, we have a sense of entitlement as to what we think we have the right to know. In future, we need to re-establish that aspirational sense of longing that comes only when celebrities keep the majority of their lives in the private sphere, and not at our fingertips.

[Written for application purposes in 2017]