As an active, social participant of many facets of popular culture, spanning from literature, to film, radio, social media and music, I have been noticing a definite trend as of late; a surprising one that is becoming more prominent. I put this out there as I wonder if others are seeing the same thing as I am.
I have noticed that celebrities and new expressions of mainstream popular culture are sliding toward focusing on stars and celebrities that reflect “the average person”, rather than the flashy unreach-ables that they used to be. I appreciate that this is a long standing trend within the alternative, indie culture, but it’s a fairly new concept for mainstream media; what were once a collection of celebrity gods who provided an aspirational aura of envy and awe to the masses, are now starting to become more like the rest of us.
In film, young stars like Jennifer Lawrence and Shailene Woodley are fresh faces, continually praised for their ‘down-to-earth’ attitude to celebrity. They trip up stairs when accepting awards and give the impression that they are simple, happy-go-lucky people on and off the screen. In addition, the widely popular movies they star in, such as The Hunger Games and A Fault In Our Stars, are stories based on books about the average person overcoming obstacles they are faced with inside a non-magical, humanistic society; i.e.: the leading character could be any of us, struggling with simple mortality. The edgy bad cops and flawless superheroes are out, and the average, flawed achievers are in.
In music, newer, successful artists have shifted from the flashy Lady Gagas and Beyoncés, who were very relevant a few years ago, to far more conservative, genuine artists such as Ed Sheeran and Adele, who have cut their teeth tirelessly making their way to the top, singing songs they’ve written about university and the pain of lost loves. The Havana Brown image with her skimpy dress and porcelain doll look, having ink poured all over her, singing the same repetitive songs as everything else out there is out, and the curvy, soul singer or the guitar slinging, redhead boy next door is in.
Even the push with new reality TV shows, such as The Block and My Kitchen Rules, sport a full cast of average-Joes, each with their own laundry list of flaws, entertaining us through being ‘one of us’, rather than the traditional, beautiful, out-of-reach celebrity. Whilst reality TV is nothing new, having civilians like us perform tasks of normalcy, such as renovation or cooking, gives the audience an easy way to completely relate to the real people we see on our screens; they’re not just sitting in a house like traditional reality TV, they’re performing DYI jobs and cooking just like we all do almost everyday. The make-up polished superstar bathed in lights is out, and the batter mixing house wives and bickering creative couples are in.
This is an interesting trend, as ‘celebrity’ has always been defined as a person with a status symbol, so distant from the average person (with all due respect), so far as to say that their talent, wealth and connections are what most of us dream about. When you go to a music concert, you pay to see this amazing rock star on stage, waltzing around amongst all the glitz and glamour, then leaving in their private, black windowed car to escort them back to their penthouse suite within the best hotel in the city, alongside a complete entourage. Those celebrities go out and buy an island, or ten Ferraris. Now, we have singers like Guy Sebastian who, upon obtaining his first royalties cheque, buys a boat to go fishing with his family, or J. K. Rowling who discovered success on the brink of poverty and gives significant amounts to charity.