Tom Hunt's Food for Thought – celebrities
PUBLISHED: 07:14 20 November 2011 | UPDATED: 20:19 20 February 2013
For readers of a certain vintage and taste in music, Noddy is a genuine, bonafide star that has toured the country and wrote THAT Christmas song. The rest, as they say, is history - and now he is rightly dubbed "a national treasure."
I met the celebrity Noddy Holder at an event last month. For readers of a certain vintage and taste in music, Noddy is a genuine, bonafide star. He learned his craft as a musician and singer, toured the country trying to get recognition, became famous - and then wrote THAT Christmas single. The rest, as they say, is history - and now he is rightly dubbed a national treasure.
We met at the National Sausage Awards, where Ludlow Food Centre picked up an accolade for the best sausage in the West Midlands. We are pictured above, right. My brief encounter with Mr Holder got me thinking about the nature of celebrity - and particularly how things have changed in the decades since Noddy first found fame in the 1970s.
The definition of a celebrity, according to the dictionary, is a famous or well known person. Forbes Magazine publishes its top 100 Worlds Most Powerful Celebrities each year. This year Lady Gaga earned herself the number one spot. She is not just well known - she has built a brand, and a business empire, off the back of a few pop songs.
The measure of celebrity power is not conventional; it is social and of the moment. For Forbes it is a complicated formula of earnings, column inches, TV and radio appearances, web hits and even Twitter followers. This model sees a top ten that includes US teen singer Justin Bieber, golfer Tiger Woods, Elton John and X-Factor guru Simon Cowell. What is it that makes them so irresistible to so many people - and what they are doing with their celebrity status?
I suppose it ought to be reassuring that on the Forbes list there are sportsmen and women, writers and genuinely talented actors who no doubt contribute a great deal to society. Forbes will tell you that Lady Gaga has earned $90 million and is the first person to reach 12 million Twitter followers. She has become a gay icon and is an inspiration to people all over the world.
Like many celebrities she donates time and money to charitable causes. She therefore uses her fame for good and, probably unlike many multi-million pound turnover businesses, she actually gives something back. But is she a role model? Her fans would say definitely; her detractors not.
At least she is famous for doing something. What is harder to stomach is the rise of the reality TV show star, and the semi-reality programmes such as The Only Way Is Essex, which are producing celebrities that have done absolutely nothing. They are not trained actors, writers, world beating sportspeople or hard working musicians. It seems today celebrity status can be earned for being illiterate, offensive and stupid, all at the same time. I wish this phenomenon would go away.
As a child of the 80s I was brought up on Steven Spielberg films (number 22 on the Forbes list) that had moral values and happy endings. This, I hope, has had a positive effect on my life. I pity the kids who are being raised instead on a diet of X Factor and Im a Celebrity...
The real celebrities today are people like Sir David Attenborough. At the age of 85 he successfully reached the North Pole. He announced it was a huge privilege to have reached both Poles in his lifetime; something he did not for ego or for money but for a love of wild places. He is the sort of celebrity we can embrace and be proud of, rather than embarrassed by.
What do you think about modern-day celebrities? Who do you love and who do you hate? Help us to establish a Top Ten of our own by emailing us with your favourites!