It used to be that “famous” was “famous,” with no explanation necessary. A Hollywood star was famous, a musician on the radio was famous, a Nobel Prize winner was famous. But in this Internet era, and especially the social media era, what is “famous?” What do you have to be or do, to be considered famous? It means more than what Merriam Webster defines it to be:
1. Known about by many people.
According to this definition, Rebecca Black is famous and so is Antoine Dodson. Antoine Dodson acquired so many fans with his Bed Intruder YouTube video that he was asked to perform at the 2010 BET Awards. Rebecca Black’s Friday YouTube video got her 167 million views and interviews on morning news shows. Have 167 million people watched a movie starring Hollywood actress, Rooney Mara? Probably not. Does that make Rebecca Black more famous than a Hollywood actress? It depends on your definition of famous.
After Kanye West recently declared that his girlfriend and reality television star Kim Kardashian, deserves to be on the Hollywood Walk of Fame, spokesperson for The Hollywood Chamber of Commerce, Ana Martinez, shed some light: “I hate to say it, but a lot of people just don’t like her. No one has ever nominated her.” So what is Kim Kardashian? Dare we call her infamous? What about sports professionals like Tiger Woods and Lance Armstrong who are struck with intense scandals that mask their professional talents? Will they go down in history as being famous or infamous professional athletes? Perhaps they take another form of infamous that we have not yet coined.
We created these words, “famous” and “infamous,” in the late 14th century to distinguish between the good and bad natures of fame. It was black and white back then: Al Capone was infamous, Frank Sinatra was famous; Lee Harvey Oswald was infamous, Albert Einstein was famous. But we have so many gray areas in today’s world of fame; these two terms don’t seem to cut it anymore. We need a suite of words to help us better differentiate between the many types of “famous” and “infamous” in today’s Hollywood society.
Here at Sylvain Labs, we’ve tossed around a few. What do you think? Are there any other types of famous?