According to Wikipedia, the fourth wall is “the imaginary ‘wall’ at the front of the stage in a traditional three-walled box in a theatre…Speaking directly to or otherwise acknowledging the audience through a camera in a film or television program, or through this imaginary wall in a play, is referred to as ‘breaking the fourth wall‘ and is considered a technique of metafiction, as it penetrates the boundaries normally set up by works of fiction” (Wikipedia). For this project, I want to analyze the fourth wall of celebrity culture and how the boundary is very blurred in current society. Through new media, fans and individuals are able to break the celebrity fourth wall through different outlets of interaction. Social media provides a false sense of connectivity to these celebrities and it breaks the barrier between simply knowing of a celebrity and feeling like you actually know them. This makes fans feel like they are actually a part of that celebrity’s life and that they have an ownership over them. Pop culture has definitely influenced this because social media has become a prominent form of communication. Another way that the introduction of social media has changed our society is that it influences the feeling of being famous. If a person has a lot of followers on either of the outlets, likes, or favorites, users often feel a sense of entitlement and feel like they themselves are famous. They feel like they have a sense of worth in the discourse community, which only gives a false pretense of fame.
The point behind this project is to simply raise awareness of this. I can see this as being detrimental to the future of our culture and we need to come to terms with this notion in order to change. I have provided examples from two social media outlets, Instagram and Twitter, and both can be found on their respective pages. You will see on each page the amount of comments or replies that fans have made towards the celebrity. This breaks that boundary between a celebrity and a fan because of the ability to interact with one another. Celebrities rarely respond, but when they do, fans go crazy. They brag about it, but it is all so meaningless. Channing Tatum retweeted you saying “O.M.G. Channing, I am ur biggest fan. PLEASE RT! I would love u 4ever!!!” So what? Does that give you a sense of euphoria? Do you feel like you are now Channing’s best friend?
It’s crazy to think just how progressive this ideal has been. In the past, a simple autograph gave a person the same feeling of craze as a favorite on Twitter or a comment back on Instagram. These little things increase our adoration for our favorite celebrities, which only adds to the need for pop culture in our lives. Being a student studying public relations, I’ve learned that it’s all about your image and publicity. If a celebrity is good at gaining publicity, they don’t need to be talented whatsoever. As long as you are able to maintain a loyal following as well as keep a good image, people will keep talking. The one thing celebrities worry about is becoming irrelevant. Being surrounded by so many of the same types of people, jack of all trades (actor/musician/model, singer/dancer/performer, model/philanthropist/designer, etc.), how can you stand out? In order to be unique in this large pool of fame, celebrities take to social media for free PR. They maintain their fans and followers’ adoration through these simple acts of clicking a button to reply or like a photo. That one minute of getting noticed by your celebrity crush will create a lifetime of obsession for him or her and realistically that’s all you need to stay relevant.
After working at many entertainment-driven companies and firms, such as a social media firm, you are often not even talking or interacting with the person you think you are. A task I had at my job was to create content for different clients of ours. From individual people to boutiques and hair salons, we were the image of the brand, social media-wise. So if you thought that Kelly Cutrone actually favorited or replied to you, that wasn’t her, that was us. Celebrities and brands don’t have the time to take on social media unless that is something they strive on being true and real about. This made me realize that even when I tweet about companies or brands and they respond, it’s not like the president is actually talking to me, but its PR team. I ate at one of Wolfgang Puck’s restaurants at Hotel Bel-Air one time and he responded back, but the likelihood that it was actually him is slim to none. So as much as I would love to say that I interacted with Mr. Puck himself, there is no way I did.
As I have brought up in the majority of my blog posts, namely ‘Are We Famous Yet?‘, is how we so wish to be a part of our favorite celebrities’ life. We give pop culture a reason to take advantage of our thoughts and actions because we are so captivated by it all. We want the same kind of attention that Miley Cyrus gets for bleaching her eyebrows for simply a new hairstyle.
We want over 100 ‘Likes’ on our Instagram selfies because that is how we are validated in society. We need the affirmation of being popular and feeling like a celebrity. Yet, is that really what our society is turning into? We are not only breaking down the fourth wall of interaction, but we are feeling famous ourselves. Why break down that fourth wall when you are the one on stage? Well, that’s our mentality at least. Regardless of if you are susceptible to this sort of mentality or action, I only wish to start seeing a change among our pop culture-obsessed world. As soon as we allow for the entertainment industry to validate us for us to feel worth something, the easier it will be for that industry to take over. They want people talking, engaging, and responding, and the more often we do, the more power the industry gains.
Without our contribution, do you think a celebrity’s influence over us would mean anything? It’s through constant interaction and this obsession with fame that they are successful. We are buying the tabloids, we are following them on Twitter, we are wishing we were them, and in turn they have the power to shape or transform us. As previously mentioned, one must be aware of this in order to change, and that is what I hope to do with this project. Be sure to check out the two other pages I have regarding breaking the fourth wall. They can be found here and here.