The Unending Confusion Over ‘Who Is A Celebrity?’

By Arnold Asamoah-Baidoo

The Inspector General of Police (IGP), George Akuffo Dampare and the hierarchy of the Ghana Police Service had a meeting with some members of the creative industry and one of the many intriguing issues that took the highlights of the show was who a celebrity is.

DCOP Kofi Boakye, in responding to varied commentary from some personalities from the industry expressed his frustration by stating how Ghanaian celebrities feel entitled and crave for leeway when it comes to the law. He also quizzed, “Who is a celebrity? What is the operational definition of the word celebrity? I think we should get that because I am confused. We are confused. Is it that when you appear in one film, or you do one song, you qualify to be called a celebrity or what? And you see, because we are confused, we do not know what you want.”

Confusion over Celebrity Tag

The conundrum that has shrouded Ghanaian entertainers and the celebrity tag did not start with DCOP Kofi Boakye and it would definitely not end with him.

The Police Commander is not the first person to question the celebrity status of persons within the creative industry. The concern on whether most of the personalities within the industry can be called celebrities has been raging on, especially in the public domain for years.

A large of section of the public and most followers of the creative industry are quick to scowl at the description of some entertainers as celebrities and they have their reasons.

The puzzle on who best fits to be called a celebrity even pervades into the media landscape, where the media tends to get confused on who and how to utilize the tag for entertainers.

Who Is a Celebrity?

The definition for a celebrity is clear; it has been so since the word was captured in the Dictionary. The description of a celebrity is the same for every country and every industry across the world.

The US tag of a celebrity is not different from the moniker in India and the narrative of who a celebrity is, is the same in UK as it is in Nigeria.

According to the Oxford Dictionary, a celebrity is a famous person, especially in entertainment or sport and the word ‘famous’ also mean the state of being known.

In solving DCOP Boakye’s challenge with any personality being called a celebrity for starring in one movie or producing one song; the answer is yes – an individual can become a celebrity for just a movie or a song. Once the fellow becomes well-known or famous for starring in one movie or producing one song, he/she can be tagged as a celebrity.

Poor Reception

A chunk of the populace have pooh-poohed the idea of some entertainers being regarded as celebrities. Such disdain for the celebrity tag is exhibited in commentary expressed by observers anytime any related matter on an entertainers comes up.

Commentators on social media and on mainstream media reject the celebrity status of some of these entertainers and such rejection emanates from how they (observers) feel about the entertainers and their lifestyle.

To many, the lifestyles of some of the entertainers do no merit the description of celebrity and the media and blogging frontiers take the blame for ‘inappropriately’ according celebrity tags on these guys.

To some extent, some of the critics of celebrity tags are right. Bloggers and most disapprovingly, entertainment journalists loosely offer the tag to any entertainer that doesn’t deserve it, especially when the person has not attained the level of fame and popularity.

Role Model

There’s nothing ambiguous about the meaning of celebrity and based on that, there are indeed entertainers in Ghana who are celebrities. They are famous in entertainment!

Most people reject the description of entertainers as celebrities because they are confounded with the nuance of role models. For many, when entertainers are tagged as celebrities, the interpretation is that, they are being classified as role models.

A role model is someone others look to as a good example. It is someone who is worthy of imitation.

Role models can be either positive or negative. Positive role models offer a range of helpful or useful behaviors while negative role models, on the other hand, offer examples of harmful or disruptive behaviors.

Visibility plays an important part in making someone a role model. The most visible examples, like athletes or actors, involve individuals for whom public visibility is part of the job. Since many people can observe these individuals’ behaviors, it is likely people will imitate their behaviors and attitudes.

Celebs Are Not Necessarily Role Models

There is an age-old debate that has swirled around over the period on whether or not celebrities have a responsibility to their fans/followers to act as good role models.

Some argue that because celebrities are in the spotlight, they have an obligation to the public to act right. They have huge followings, so some do feel they have a certain sense of responsibility to be on their best behavior for the public. That’s germane but not mandatory!

Celebrities are celebrities; they didn’t sign up to be role models to anybody!

Celebrities’ main jobs are to entertain. They never signed up to be role models, neither good nor bad. Although they may influence many kids, youth and young adults, parents are to take the responsibility of parenting and serve as better role models for their wards. It is also important for people in society to focus on themselves and less on famous celebrities.


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