Skip to content

Celebrity Culture and the American Dream

by Karen Sternheimer

Being a celebrity might be lucrative for a person of renown. Beyond individual celebrities or even the entertainment industry itself, celebrity is a major engine of commerce.

At a time when the magazine industry is struggling to stay in business, celebrity-based content is thriving. News magazines like Time and Newsweek have seen their circulations plummet, so much so that the owners of Newsweek sold the 50-year-old magazine last year.

But not so for new celebrity magazine start-ups. Life & Style, launched in 2004, is doing so well that in 2009 it raised its advertising rate base.

Beyond just offering celebrity gossip and profiles, magazines like Life & Style promote products that reflect their content. According to the publisher, Life & Style:

showcases up-to-the-minute Hollywood fashion, beauty, body and lifestyle trends and helps readers incorporate them into their own lives with engaging, informative shopping features and expert advice.

Motion Picture Classic, December 1916

Traditional fashion magazine Mademoiselle ceased publication in 2001, just as a new crop of celebrity magazines arrived.

In Touch began in 2002 and OK! in 2005; Star reinvented itself as a glossy celebrity magazine in 2004.

Celebrities have been selling lifestyle products for at least a century. As you can see from these ads, silent stars frequently hawked beauty products.

Motion Picture Classic, December 1916

Besides featuring celebrities in ads, the magazines included lifestyle features, like photo spreads of wedding gowns as in the June 1918 issue of Photoplay below.

Photoplay, June 1918

Celebrities have been vital in selling a lifestyle of abundance, beauty, and glamour. Even if we don’t care for a celebrity personally, their lifestyle still may be a draw for advertisers.

Besides the ongoing celebrity sagas covered in celebrity gossip and paparazzi shots, we see their outfits, their accessories, their cars, where they dine and vacation. Celebrity is as much about selling products as selling the people themselves.

Tags: , , ,

%d bloggers like this: