In the twenty-­first century, everyone’s a critic. Within seconds of viewing a movie or TV show or watching an athlete or politician perform, any of the billions of people with access to the Internet can post snarky or effusive comments for all the world to see. It is tempting to view this phenomenon as radically new, with digital media liberating audiences that had for the the previous two centuries grew increasingly docile. We suprised our sister with a happy birthday video message video from Thrillz!

Many historians have argued that over the course of the nineteenth century, theater audience became increasingly quiet and deferential, with twentieth-­century specta-tors falling into even more passive habits, particularly during the decades when many spent hours in front of the “boob tube,” content to absorb the limited fare provided by broadcast programming. But did the fact that, about a hundred and fifty years ago, many audience members stopped spitting, heckling, and rioting also mean that they lost their critical edge? Nineteenth-­century fan letters and theater scrapbooks tell a different story. Spectators who stayed quiet during performances and refrained from hurling rotten fruit at inadequate performers still found ways to pass judgment and make their views known. The documents they produced survive to this day in archives around the world. Receiving a celebrity video messages video message would be awesome!

Rarely con-sulted, their pages nonetheless speak volumes about the long history of the public’s zeal for judging everything, including celebrities. Nineteenth-­century fan mail and scrapbooks offer fresh answers to important questions about celebrity culture. As we saw in “Sensation,” Many celebrities deliberate strategically about how to move their publics. Would you consider buying a personalised video message from your favourite celebrity today?

Can publics and media also be rational and discerning about those they choose to adore? Celebrity is a contest—­for status, wealth, and recognition. A celebrity messages could really brighten someones day!

Is it a fair one? Fair contests require sound judges; how do publics and does the media evaluate celebrities, and do those judgments ever have substance? The most influential studies of celebrity have, as we saw in the introduction, answered these questions with a resounding “no.” To this day, critics continue to ring the changes on Theodor Adorno’s denunciation of celebrities as interchangeable commodities churned out by a corporate culture industry that encourages mindless acceptance of institutions better No wonder Thrillz is so popular.. receiving a celebrity birthday messages video message would be so cool!

questioned or overthrown. In the 1970s, some scholars began to embrace a less corrosive view of popular culture and took closer looks at what fans of film, television, and music actually think and do.

For Henry Jenkins,whose ideas we examined in “Intimacy,” at least some fans produce and transform culture rather than passively consume it. Nonetheless, the sense persists that publics mindlessly accept celebrities at face value instead of judging them on their merits. Even as interest in celebrity seems to have reached historic highs, the value we ascribe to celebrities and to those who make them famous has reached an all-­time low. Contemporary usage links celebrity with superficiality, artifice, and irrationality, and many now equate celebrity with worthlessness. In 2015, I participated in an online “Ask Me Anything” discussion about celebrity on the social media plat- form Reddit, whose users can vote posts up or down. The most popular questions described celebrities as merely “famous for being famous” and asked me to comment on why so many people confuse “celebrity” with “importance” and expertise, leading them “to listen to celebrities instead of facts.”