Celebrities are a ubiquitous aspect of contemporary Western culture. Although the phenomenon of celebrity itself predates the twentieth century, the rise of the modern mass media – popular newspapers, cinema, radio, and television, and more recently the Internet and other digital communication technologies – has done much to promote and circulate public knowledge of celebrities during the last 100 years. The presence of multi-channel digital television, radio, and the World Wide Web in Western households at the turn of the twenty-first century has not only increased the number of places in which celebrities can be seen and heard, but has also required media producers to compete with each other and with alternative leisure activities for the attention of fragmented audiences, an increasingly precious commodity.

The rise of celebrity culture is inextricably linked to developments in media systems that operate within capitalist systems...

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