Celebrities are a breed of people renowned for their talents, looks and social status. 'Celebs' are what happens when you revere apes as gods...
To witness the birth of the celebrity we have to go back several thousand years, to a tribe of emerging proto-humans, barely down from the trees and currently experimenting with language, tool use and fashion.
Meet Pug. He is the biggest and strongest of his tribe. He is renowned for his prowess at badger killing. In an environment where much of the economy is based on badger derivatives, Pug is big news. Soon all the tribesmen want to hunt with Pug, so that they can reflect in his badger slaying glory. The tribeswomen want their unborn children to be like Pug, and so flash their chunky cave-asses at him at every opportunity. And so Pug spends the rest of his prime buried in cave-tail and high fives. He is the first Jock, he is physically superior, and thus more attractive. His skills, directly proportionate to his physical traits, have become highly desirable. As the tribe talk about him and his badger slaying antics, we see the very beginnings of hero worship...
This is Shug. She is the most attractive of the cave-ladies. Her full breasts and giant ass shout of her child-bearing suitability. Her long, soft hair is highly sought after in a world where pillows and toilet paper have yet to be invented. Her silky smooth navel hair is the envy of her contemporaries. The other cave-ladies crowd around her, hoping that the excess male attention she attracts will divert to them. Shug spends her days surrounded by an entourage, who comb and groom her, knowing that the asset of physical attractiveness is the best way to secure the strongest, best hunters.
Eventually Pug and Shug get together and have cave-sex. It is inevitable. They are the two greatest specimens of the tribe, and everybody wishes them well. The tribe talk about them, showing just as much interest in the first celebrity love tryst as they do in their own lives.
Soon Pug and Shug have a child, the exotically named 'Brian'. Brian will not be quite as good at badger hunting as his dad, nor quite as attractive as his mother. He will not need to be, as he is the beginning of fame by relation, and he will spend his days enjoying a status he has done little to earn.
Meanwhile, the uglier and weaker of the tribe sit in bitter isolation, not understanding why they cannot attract the cave-ladies or earn the kudos of the hunters. They will eventually find other ways to elevate their status in society, like inventing fire. They are the beginnings of the nerd, forever doomed to be the under-appreciated saviors of their people. Eventually, when humanity becomes more sophisticated, the nerds will gain the coveted trappings of celebrity through the strength of their discoveries, but they will always have to work much, much harder than those with favorable badger-punching ass-having genes.
Historians generally agree that stuff used to be harder. If you wanted fast-food, you had to eat a cow while it was still alive. If you wanted to make a telephone call, you had to wait for the telephone to be invented. And if you wanted to be famous, well, you generally had to murder the absolute shit out of countless peasants.
Fame! I wanna live forever...
Thankfully, fame became easier to obtain as communication technology advanced, and people who weren't mass murderers were given the chance to earn celebrity status. Unfortunately, this had the inevitable knock-on effect of devaluing fame to the point where a tubby-boy failing to be Jedi can become the stuff of legend. However, is it fair to say that there is a direct correlation between advances in technology and the level of talent needed to be considered famous? Well, we here at Cracked aren't in the business of fairness, we're in the business of COMPARATIVE CHARTS MOTHER FUCKER!
Chart used with permission from the Board of Entirely Legitimate Charts
The correlations are obvious. Here is talent vs. technology in its very essence. At one end of the spectrum we have Gene Kelly, who not only out-danced a cartoon mouse, but decades later would go on to out-dance a cartoon baby, proving his talent more than superior to the visual technology of the time. At the other end of the spectrum we have Keanu Reeves, who, although making a promising start earlier in his career by defeating his robot duplicate in Bill and Ted's Bogus Journey, later succeeded talent to technology when he was replaced by a remote controlled puppet in all three Matrix films.
Now say "woah"
So there we have it, sort of conclusive proof that technology has retarded the necessery talent of the celebrity and thus his or her inherit worth. However, this is merely the tip of the iceberg. Keanu Reeves can, at least, play the bass, but the celebrity gene pool is in danger of being swallowed by a group of people who think that "playing the bass" is something they did with a fish in their last sex video. It is remiss of us to search for the notorious 'Celeb' in the hallowed halls of Hollywood celebrity. Indeed, to find the very essence of Celeb we must travel abroad, to a land where American values have been warped and twisted beyond recognition by a race of thankless orcs. I speak, of course, of England.
I like my coffee like I like my English. Pale, lukewarm and deeply bitter
Why England? Read on, brave Cracker, for it is time for us to go on a safari in search of the most spurious of celebrity specimens: The Katona.
Why are we talking about Kerry Katona? A brief English popstar who had about as much impact on the shores of America as a man pissing off the west coast of Ireland?
Or a man and a boy for that matter...
To be frank, we could have talked of, say, Paris Hilton, Anna Nicole Smith and all the other pointless, talentless whores who would have a had a more positive impact on society had they volunteered as speed-bumps, and yet who are/were more famous, rich and lauded than most of us will ever be. But, to define the very essence of what a Celeb actually is, you can't get better/worse than Kerry Katona.
Kerry Katona: pictured in a brief moment of not being an abomination
After a childhood spent between various foster families, Kerry left school at sixteen. Rather than farm potatoes or manufacture misery, (which are the typical employment routes for British teenagers,) Kerry exceeded everybody's expectations by becoming a lap dancer. Here we have the first rung in the ladder of potential Celeb- having the genetic makeup sufficient to make you sexually desirable. It is debatable how much of this genetic advantage Miss Katona had, however, as she later failed in her ambition to become a glamour model; going as far as to have nude pictures taken of her, but neglecting to get paid for it.
Kerry hit the Celeb jackpot by joining shit-pop group Atomic Kitten, who went on to have four top-twenty hits in the U.K. (to translate this into American, simply substitute the latter half of the previous sentence with "failed to crack America.") And here we have the second necessity of the Celeb; must have the ability to barely be able to sing and dance.
However, apparently miming to bad music was too much for Ms. Katona, and she fell pregnant to a member of an equally shit pop band, Westlife. Now married, Kerry's days of pretending to be a singer were over. Here is yet another hallmark of the Celeb, the wisdom to decide, after becoming an icon to teenage girls everywhere, to jack in your job and get married as soon as somebody knocks you up.
Now we approach the tail-end of the Celeb lifecycle, with Kerry appearing on the 'light entertainment' circuit (junk television) and the reality television circuit (really junk television) and eventually endorsing economy supermarkets (officially the bottom rung of all television ever.) Her showbiz husband leaves her, and she marries a taxi driver. She loses her endorsement deal after photos of her doing cocaine in her bathroom materialize. She is rejected from appearing in Celebrity Big Brother due to questions about her mental health. She is criticized for drinking during pregnancy. She appears drunk on morning television. She assaults her accountant. She causes criminal damage. She films her plastic-surgery procedures for a reality TV show. Eventually her taxi driver husband leaves her. She is bankrupt and her home is repossessed. It is here, in the midst of a tidal wave of failure, that we see perhaps the most important factor of the Celeb makeup; the ability to be a horrible, horrible person.
7:46 am? Who does she think she is, a Cracked columnist?
These days Kerry Katona supplements her income entirely by appearing in cheap gossip magazines, alternately gaining or losing an unhealthy amount of weight. Her fame was like a bee sting- brief, surprising and painful. It is here that we see the true difference between the celebrity and the Celeb. The Celebrity may retire or die with dignity on the strength of his or her achievements. The Celeb, with no real achievements to speak of, is destined to leave his or her much documented self-destruction as their only legacy.
So, with our incredible detective skills we have learned the primary definition of 'Celeb'; somebody whose fame isn't just undeserved, but totally and completely baffling. It is very easy to look at somebody like K-fed and conclude that if there is a God then he is a total dick, but we must remember that nothing happens without a reason. Not even K-fed.
"Muuuuhhhrrgh"- Kevin Federline
You see, fame is money. Not just for the person who is famous, not just for their manager, or agent or entourage. One famous person is an entire industry. From the people who manufacture products with K-fed's face on it to people who sell those prducts, to the people who deliver them, to the people who store them, to the people who advertise them, to the people who clean the office of the people who advertise them. And lets not forget the photographers, the publishers, the licensers and the lawyers and the personal trainers and the endless array of drug dealers. One famous person can generate work for thousands.
Is it any wonder that famous people are created?
"Wait!" You say. "Famous people aren't created, they're discovered! Stop talking shit or I'll kill you!"
Well, you're sort of right. Except, you're not. You might get a band like the Beatles, who get together and write and perform their own music resulting in a grass roots popularity movement that captures the interest of music executives, or you might get a band like the Monkees, who are purpose built by music executives. Either way, as soon as those bands enter the lime light, they are handled and promoted by a myriad of people whose own financial success depends upon the success of the group. They are a product, an idea, something that is bought and sold.
So we create famous people- and they can't all be Elvis. Some of them are K-fed.
"Blaaaaaaarrrp"- Kevin Federline
Now, it doesn't take the public long to realize when a non-talented person has exceeded the limitations of their non-talent, so that's when the Celeb, rather than retiring gracefully, begins to flash their vagina whilst getting out of cars. If these Celebs can no longer be exploited for their talent, they will be exploited for any other reason- providing it sells.
Can anyone even remember the name of Courtney Love's single that was released after Kurt Cobain's death? Can anyone even remember the name of her band? Isn't it more likely you know her for being a gad-about slag? That's because she is not a celebrity- she is a Celeb. And the distinction is an important one.
Feel free to supply your own "Courtney Love looks like shit" caption
When an alien explorer sifts through the ashes of our planet and finds a glossy magazine loudly speculating on the amount of cellulite present on a non-remarkable woman's ass, this alien will no doubt bury it deep and fly away, scrubbing the earth's co-ordinates from his futuristic GPS. He will never return, and occasionally, when drunk on space vodka at the end of a long night, he will mumble something cryptic about the end of worlds. And K-fed.
"Cower, brief mortals. Look upon your fate and despair."- Kevin Federline