Many people today imagine they have a shot at being famous for being themselves. On the Worldwide Web that fantasy is coming true. The Internet allows fame, for the first time, to be self-appointed. Ordinary people point camcorders at themselves, broadcasting intimate details of their lives to anyone who's interested in looking. Those with opinions and perspectives that might not make it on traditional media venues use the Internet to promote their views and to try to capture or build a following of their own. Celebrities who are already famous can enhance their fame with their own Web sites, where they may comment on how they are represented by the traditional media and promote themselves any way they please. Online fame may look unspectacular at the moment, but it is free from the demands and influences of Hollywood studios, corporate tastemakers, and other arbiters newsworthiness. The advent of the Web has wrested control from the mass media, which no longer have the absolute power to bestow fame on the chosen few. And the Web has the potential to reach an enormous worldwide audience.
Web Cam Sites Fame is self-appointed on Web cam sites where anyone may create, control, and broadcast his or her own image. A camera hooked up to a computer records images of a person at regular intervals, which are broadcast to those who visit the Web site. Most Web cam celebrities are known only to people who frequently use the Internet. These sites turn viewers into voyeurs by offering tantalizing peeks at the private life of a "public" person. Jennifer Ridgley (www.jennicam.org), for example, has become famous online and off-line, with appearances on The Oprah Winfrey Show, Late Night with David Letterman, and articles about her site in the New York Times.
Celebrity Web Sites Until the advent of the Web, celebrities from film, television, and other visual media communicated to the public through the traditional media channels. The conversation was mostly one-way, from star to fan, and direct interaction was strictly choreographed by a public relations machine. A site on the Internet allows celebrities to sidestep traditional media: they can enhance and take control of their already existing fame by approving the pictures that appear on the site and by combining information about their personal histories with gossip about their latest accomplishments. They can exchange ideas with fans in chat rooms, and even comment on or correct the image that the media convey about them in print and on television.
Online Audiences Comment on Fame The Web is being used to broadcast perspectives about and responses to fame that the mass media would never consider. Some Web sites use photographs to spread underground, humorous, or extreme points of view about famous people; such sites allow fans and critics to respond to the media's idea of fame. Photographs of celebrities are lifted from the media, reworked, and transformed for distribution on the Web so that Web site visitors deconstruct the carefully fashioned images that audiences are meant to accept without question.
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