A Taxonomy of Celebs
The other day in a discussion with someone it was mentioned how much they hated Kanye, a thought that does not seem too out of the ordinary – he is a polarizing figure; yet he is a figure who is probably amongst the five most recognized celebs across the world. I later had another discussion about his wife Kim Kardashian and her rise to fame. This got me thinking about celeb types, how each person rises to fame, and how they evolve within celeb types. From there I began to develop a taxonomy for celebs, meticulously coming up with categories and examples for each one. Listed below are the results, feel free to argue against any type, offer suggestions for new types, and develop debates as to where certain celebs should go. (You may ask what the point of this is and my point is that there is no point other than to create a fun game to discuss while hanging out, which to me is better than small talk itself.)
All Press is Good Press
This is the person who creates buzz by creating buzz. They are often small time celebrities who have worked their way into being starlets through being starlets. They can do this by doing crazy things on reality tv, making sex tapes, dating certain people, etc… These celebrities start out as nobodies, but after getting enough mentions start to become somebodies.
The most obvious example is Kim Kardashian who lived this celeb format out: she started out as the daughter of someone who had 15 minutes of fame during a trial and leaped off of it into the greatest All-Presser of all time. Becoming friends with another All-Presser, Paris Hilton, and dating a b-list rapper, her name started getting floated about. After the release of her sex tape she then gained an E! reality show and posed for Playboy. None of these are particularly touted things, there was no reason for her to really take off, but little by little the press started to add up with more and more reasons to know her name. Next she hit a competitive reality show, Dancing With the Stars, again giving more people a chance to recognize her, followed by guest appearances all over TV. Her reality show rocketed, she made some songs, created products, and married an NBA player which of course lasted 72 days – a blemish on her character, but All Press is Good Press.
At this point Kim K. is a bonafide international celebrity, so what does she do? Goes after someone perhaps bigger than herself, Kanye, to which the two remain a couple and Kim has cemented her place into American pop culture for decades to come.
Examples: The Kardashians, Paris Hilton, Farrah Abraham, Tila Tequila
The Controversy Creator is somebody who is in some sense respected even if they are not liked. They are people who command your attention and everything they do creates headlines. You don’t have to like them in the least, but chances are you are going to hear about what they’re doing. They often do big and bold things causing people to either fall in love with them or despise them. Nearly all of them have immense talent otherwise they would likely end up as All-Pressers or Washouts.
Examples: Kanye, Eminem, modern Miley
Do No Wrong
These are America’s sweethearts, often big box office draws or people who are headliners. These are usually people who can cross demographics, having a certain charm that draws your mother, grandmother, and sister into adoration. For the most part they keep a clean sheet and only occasionally go off into dangerous PR territory.
Examples: Tom Hanks, Julia Roberts, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Justin Timberlake, Will Smith
These are people who gained their fame through being really talented at what they do. They do not really trend toward the spotlight, but gain it because they are so good at what they do. Some may drift toward other categories after they have gained fame – these are forever known as sell outs. The Talent can be found gaining awards, though at times they can go unrecognized by the mainstream and settling for more cultish followings instead.
Examples: Leonardo DiCaprio, Daniel Day-Lewis, Kendrick Lamar, Adele, Meryl Streep, Kate Winslet
A fairly obvious category that perhaps is the opposite of the one before it, The Hottie exists in celeb culture only because of their looks. They may originally have been models, cast into reality tv because of looks, or cast as side characters in movies because of how attractive they are. These people can leave this category (someone like Scarlett Johansson or Channing Tatum may have worked their way into being a Talent), but some are forever doomed to being susceptible to “(Insert hot celeb name here) young” on Google search predictor.
Examples: Jessica Alba, Kate Upton, Heidi Klum, Ryan Reynolds, Josh Duhamel, Orlando Bloom
The Washout is a formerly famed person who through bad choices both in their career and with their words/actions loses respect and privilege. Unlike the All Press is Good Press and Controversy Creators they do things that cause them to be ostracized from their fans. These are people who are prime contenders for a comeback and when they eventually do something good the magazines will be all over their rise back into the spotlight (remember when Mickey Rourke came back with The Wrestler?) Child stars often fall into this category when past their prime.
Examples: Mel Gibson, Lindsey Lohan, Shia Lebouf, Charlie Sheen, John Travolta, Kirstie Alley
The Child Star
Another obvious category, this person is famous because of something they did as a child, as they grow older they may transition into another category or else they may be forever memorialized in “where are they now” lists advertised at the bottom of various web pages.
Examples: One Direction, Justin Bieber, Selena Gomez
Agree? Disagree? Hit me up. Play this game with your friends and enemies alike. Maybe in a few weeks I’ll list some of the ways that people have transitioned from category to category over the years.