What explains our fascination with celebrity?

Question: What explains our fascination with celebrity?

Fuller: You know it’s like a real life, ongoing soap opera that you can tune into every single day. I mean the lives of these people are . . . they’re just . . . they’re much . . . They’re more dramatic than anything that you can see pretty much going on in their own life. They’re more . . . They’re richer. They’re more beautiful. They’re more glamorous. They’re having romantic relationships, making . . . making up, breaking up; making new relationships with other rich, glamorous people. They’re . . . They’re just kind of endlessly fascinating and we don’t . . . All of . . . Through all of history, even pre-recorded history of people, of human beings, people have always been interested in the leaders and the rich, glamorous, famous people in their society. So I mean I’m sure back in caveman days, you know cavewomen were gossiping about the leader of the pack and which woman was gonna be his woman. And you know they were fascinated by royalty in their societies. And we don’t have royalty. We’re not . . . I mean you see in Britain still that obsession with the royal family. And I think for most of history it’s been the aristocracy and the royalty of society that are like our Hollywood. But we don’t have that, so we have to have a substitute, and our substitute is Hollywood and celebrities for us to be fascinated about. And also we all share these people. We don’t go . . . I mean our workplaces don’t give us enough people that we all know in common to gossip about. And gossip, I think, is in our genes. So we . . . If we sit down at a dinner party, you know you can’t say, “Well, you know, Joe Schmo from work, can you believe what he did?” You can’t say that to the person sitting next to you. But you can say, “Can you believe that Britney . . . that Britney is even rejecting this latest intervention by her parents? And that she’s got this paparazzi boyfriend who is selling photos of her and yet she’s still going out with him?” I mean you can say that to anybody you can sit down with. You have that in common. It’s like instantly bonding because everybody is gonna have an opinion about it. So they really serve a very useful community purpose. (Chuckles) Recorded On: 1/30/08

Gossip is a social glue, Fuller says.

Live on Monday: Does the US need one billion people?

What would happen if you tripled the US population? Matthew Yglesias and moderator Charles Duhigg explore the idea on Big Think Live.

Big Think LIVE

Is immigration key to bolstering the American economy? Could having one billion Americans secure the US's position as the global superpower?

Keep reading Show less

Landau Genius Scale ranking of the smartest physicists ever

How Nobel Prize winner physicist Lev Landau ranked the best physics minds of his generation.

Photo by: Photo12/Universal Images Group via Getty Images
Surprising Science
  • Nobel-Prize-winning Soviet physicist Lev Landau used a scale to rank the best physicists of the 20th century.
  • The physicist based it on their level of contribution to science.
  • The scale was logarithmic, with each level being 10 times more valuable.
  • Keep reading Show less

    Universe works like a cosmological neural network, argues new paper

    Controversial physics theory says reality around us behaves like a computer neural network.

    Credit: sakkmesterke
    Surprising Science
    • Physicist proposes that the universe behaves like an artificial neural network.
    • The scientist's new paper seeks to reconcile classical physics and quantum mechanics.
    • The theory claims that natural selection produces both atoms and "observers".
    Keep reading Show less

    Mystery anomaly weakens Earth's magnetic field, report scientists

    A strange weakness in the Earth's protective magnetic field is growing and possibly splitting, shows data.

    ESA
    Surprising Science
    • "The South Atlantic Anomaly" in the Earth's magnetic field is growing and possibly splitting, shows data.
    • The information was gathered by the ESA's Swarm Constellation mission satellites.
    • The changes may indicate the coming reversal of the North and South Poles.
    Keep reading Show less

    We studied what happens when guys add their cats to their dating app profiles

    43% of people think they can get a sense of someone's personality by their picture.

    Photo by Luigi Pozzoli on Unsplash
    Sex & Relationships

    If you've used a dating app, you'll know the importance of choosing good profile pics.

    Keep reading Show less
    Quantcast