University of South Carolina sociology professor Mathieu Deflem developed a course in 2010 about Lady Gaga and the nature of fame, and has since made headlines — garnering attention globally and from Lady Gaga herself. If his college course wasn’t cool enough to begin with, the newly famous professor is now peppering it with a few things from his own experiences.
From The Guardian:
One of his conclusions is that the statement of pop artist Andy Warhol – that anyone can be famous but just for 15 minutes – is no longer true. In the age of 24-hour media and widespread social networking sites like Twitter and Facebook, basically everyone can be famous all the time.
These days, Deflem concluded from his own brush with celebrity, it is staying unknown that is the harder and more unusual experience. “Nowadays it more exceptional to be obscure,” he said.
And later, in reference to his own overnight fame:
He was also amazed at the lack of agency he had over his own fate and image as it spiraled out of control in the hands of hundreds of journalists. “You kind of undergo it. You experience it. You do not really have any control,” he said.
From the way this Guardian article reads, this isn’t a “blowoff” course, either. I think this is useful material, and it should be offered at the primary and secondary levels of education.
Not only would it be a popular class (kids are already talking about the likes of Kim Kardashian and Lady Gaga) but I think it would have a really practical application during childhood as well. Kids and teens seem to be naturally fascinated with fame. Maybe it’s something to do with that developmental milestone of needing to fit in and be loved by one’s peers — isn’t being famous the ultimate sign of being loved and accepted? Or maybe it’s a product of the internet, the entertainment industry and a fame-obsessed culture.
Either way, a class like this could teach kids what to expect from the media and paparazzi if they create a viral video or blog. It could even teach coping strategies for a negative backlash, like in the case of Rebecca Black’s notorious viral song, “Friday.” Maybe this kind of class would deter kids from making stupid choices in order to attain their own instant fame, or at least help them to stop and consider the consequences before posting questionable content on social media.
I guess a class like this might also run the risk of deepening children’s obsession with fame, but I still think it would do more good than harm, at least in the sense of making kids aware that early fame often comes with some degree of stress and even mental illness (hello, Amanda Bynes).
Plus, it just sounds like fun, and kids always learn the most when they’re interested in a subject. It’s like sneaking broccoli into junk food!