Is This the End of the Celebrity?

Brooke a. Anderson
4 min readMay 14, 2020

Like most people at home right now, we have been watching celebrities broadcasting from their homes. Jimmy Fallon’s at-home version of the Tonight Show has been welcoming us into his home with his adorable little girls, Nancy, and that cool slide that I’m now pretty sure I need in my house. Seth Meyers quickly followed suit, then SNL and every other outlet that wants to publish fresh material. This transition, however, just might be the death knell of the celebrity.

Celebrities typically have the ultimate curated experience of being human. While we see selected windows into their lives for publicity, thanks to rigid boundaries, we rarely have any true sense of their day-to-day. One of the byproducts of these boundaries is cultivating intrigue, and fostering this distance creates what researcher call “otherness.” Celebrities are positioned as “other” than we are, and the way they present their lives, reinforces their being different.

And yet here we are, during this pandemic, all stuck at home. Interviews on Fallon have included A-list celebrities, and after a few weeks, it has became commonplace to feel like we are in the living rooms and offices of household names like Will Ferrell and Halle Berry.

Communication theories tell us that self-disclosure is one of the main ways that we get closer to people by revealing more about who we are. Because our homes are one of the most personal expressions of ourselves, the culturally, highly-disclosive action of inviting friends into our homes means they learn even more about us.

As we began watching celebrities in their homes, it was amazing to see kitchen cabinets like our own covered in children’s art, pictures we own hanging from the walls, and books we read on the shelves behind these famous people. Our TV screens were inundated with well-known faces up close and personal without the assistance of makeup artists, stylists, and hair colorists. Despite their financial fortunes, we have been invited into these people’s boredom with a backdrop of their wallpaper and décor choices, and consequently all of these images and interactions serve to make us more familiar with who they are — more like our friends.

The people we usually relegate to celebrity status have not only transitioned to being like us, they have done so in a highly visible way that they have intentionally shared. Barriers and boundaries have been pushed aside in order to continue to create entertainment. If we didn’t know about their movies and successes, we might assume that that unkempt guy on the screen is one of us because there are no props, no wardrobe, no stage.

As celebrities continue to share their inner sanctums, some attempting to reinforce their celebrity life with rows of trophies lining the walls behind them and others hunkered down in cramped apartment corners, I wonder if “celebrityness” might cease to exist. In their disclosures of living rooms and kitchens and makeup-free faces, will we begin see that they are simply actors on the same stage we are all performing on? Have the formerly curated lives of the celebrities we adore become mundane, no longer worthy of our interest, and devoid of intrigue?

I recently read an article claiming that while we are seeing more of celebrities’ lives, the interactions are still very selected because celebrities are so good at being celebrities. I have no doubt that people are selecting what they show us, but maybe the selection doesn’t matter once the boundary has been breached.

Before the pandemic, celebrities famously selected out their humanity or their “we are just like you” persona. And while we may not see every room of their homes or their children’s photos on the wall, the erosion of boundaries and seeing celebrities at home like us, is enough to change our perception, erode intrigue, and challenge their status as “other.”

Undoubtedly we will still wonder what they are not showing us. Maybe we still imagine them to be different than we are at a fundamental level? But in any case, there is no doubt that this pandemic has shown us behind the scenes of celebrity lives, and it’s interesting to note that they look an awful lot like people we probably already know.

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Brooke a. Anderson
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writer, designer, marketer, biologist…mostly in that order. living and loving life in Boulder, CO. @bawriting