Oscar Selfie

Oscar Selfie

The Academy Awards on ABC-TV is the quintessential modern media celebrity-driven event that celebrates celebrities celebrating celebrities.

Celebrity Ellen DeGeneres did her best to celebrate Hollywood and its movies and stars. The Academy Awards show was the ultimate opportunity for a global audience to gawk at, ogle, adore and celebrate the celebrities our culture worships afar via the intimacy of TV and social media.

On social media, everyone wants to get into the celebrity act. Best Supporting Actress nominee and celebrity Jennifer Lawrence doesn’t have a Twitter account, but there are several accounts that tweet daily updates on all things Jennifer. One, “Jennifer Lawrence” @JLDaily, has 112,000 followers, and whoever owns the account Tweets as if he/she were Jennifer.

Young people, especially teens, seem to use social media, in part, in search of their own budding identities. And whom do they identify with? Science prize winners, Harvard or Yale valedictorians or young writers for the New Yorker, The Atlantic or the New York Times?

No, they associate with celebrities – Jennifer Lawrence, other Hollywood stars, Grammy Award winners, rap stars, professional athletes, etc.

Does this fascination and identification with celebrities do any harm or make any sense in a culture and economy in which young people are finding it ever more difficult to find meaningful and reasonably well-paying jobs?  Shouldn’t young people be studying STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) topics rather than obsessing about celebrities?

In its January 18, issue, The Economist published an article about the future of jobs titled “The onrushing wave: Previous technological innovation has always delivered more long-run employment, not less. But things can change.” A sidebar to the article, titled “Bring on the personal trainers” listed jobs and the probability that “computerization will lead to job losses within the next two decades, 2013 (1=certain).”

Job (Probability)

  • Recreational therapists (0.003)
  • Dentists (0.004)
  • Athletic trainers  (0.007)
  • Clergy (0.008)
  • Chemical Engineers (0.02)
  • Editors (0.06)
  • Firefighters (0.17)
  • Actors (0.37)
  • Health technologists (0.40)
  • Economists (0.43)
  • Commercial pilots (0.55)
  • Machinists (0.65)
  • Word processors and typists (0.81)
  • Real estate sales agents (0.86)
  • Technical writers (0.89)
  • Retail salespersons (0.92)
  • Accountants and auditors (0.94)
  • Telemarketers (0.99)

OMG, this means there is better than a 50 percent chance that computers will replace commercial airplane pilots, a job I thought would be so cool.  And a young person looking at this list might say, “Let me see. What would be more fun: being a recreational therapist, an athletic trainer, a dentist, in the clergy, a chemical engineer, an editor, a firefighter, an actor, a health technologist or an economist?”

“Wow, I have a better chance of getting a job that wouldn’t be replaced by a computer if I were an actor than a health technologist or an economist.  I’d love to be an actor – a celebrity. I’d better do some research on the business of acting.  I’d better watch the Academy Awards and celebrate the celebrities I want to one day become – much better than becoming an accountant or telemarketer and being replaced by software and hardware.”

Makes sense to me.

About Charles Warner

Charles Warner teaches in the Media Management Program at The New School and NYU’s Stern School of Business, and is the Goldenson Chair Emeritus at the University of Missouri School of Journalism. Until he retired in 2002, he was Vice President of AOL’s Interactive Marketing division. Charlie’s book Media Selling, 4th Edition is an update of Broadcast and Cable Selling and is the most widely used sales textbook in the field. He has also written a companion book to Media Selling titled Media Sales Management that is available free on www.mediaselling.us.



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