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Why are we so obsessed with celebrities?

"Gods Like Us: On Movie Stardom and Modern Fame" by Ty Burr
Pantheon; 1 edition (September 18, 2012)

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Why are we so obsessed with celebrities? Our society has celebrated certain individuals more than others since its inception. We are obsessed and fixated with everything about celebrities and as film critic Ty Burr points out in his new book “Gods Like Us: On Movie Stardom and Modern Fame,” this obsession intensified with the development of movies and movie stars in the early twentieth century. Even the practice of comparing human beings to celestial sources of light and energy by calling them “stars” is symbolic of our profound fascination.

In his book, Burr examines this obsession by tracing the origin and meaning of modern fame from 1908’s Biograph Girl, Florence Lawrence, all the way to the likes of Kim Kardashian. The author uses real life examples of celebrities as case studies to demonstrate our relationship with fame and fame culture and to explain why we elevate stars to a god-like status. But, why do some stars continue to shine brightly, while others fade over time? And what do the chosen celebrities in any society signify about the values held by the masses who adore and idolize them?

Listen in as Larry takes a look at the fame game with film critic and author Ty Burr.


Ty Burr, author of “Gods Like Us: On Movie Stardom and Modern Fame” (Pantheon 2012); film critic at The Boston Globe since 2002