Hollywood Shares its Power with Web 2.0

It’s the season of red carpets, glamour, awards...yes, it’s the film season and now Hollywood has to share its power with web 2.0 and the digital world. The Oscar’s are nearly here and it won’t just be TV and the front pages of celebrity magazines that will be covering the event. The web too will be crammed with celebrity focused posts, blogs, tweets, and websites...all forecasting and gossiping. Web 2.0 has transformed our relationship with celebrities. The power of who decides if someone is a star no longer rests in the hands of the media moguls; instead the power is now vested with us the audiences.

Though old style Hollywood did suffer with scandals and gossip, the stakes have changed with the added elements of long camera lenses, social media platforms that broadcast to the world in real time...and so web 2.0 and digital technologies have altered the balance of this highly strung and fickle industry; the web cannot be controlled by the big film studios or backers. The audience is in charge, armed with their phone devices and Wi-Fi connection; making it a heady cocktail for a celebrity and their army of agents and publicists to deal with, as now fans can zoom into the homes via Google Maps or report a star sighting on justspotted.com. The stars of Hollywood have lost their personal privacy. Instead, we have acquired more control over their glittering careers, as previously the duration of their fame was determined by a story created and spun by a studio executive; now the studios have to fire fight the stories that creep out about their stars.

Web 2.0 has dramatically changed how we interact with our idols, as the audiences also have been vested with the power to create and make celebrities, taking this power away from the traditional talent spotters, scouts, agents and star-makers. Instead aspiring talent now have the freedom and opportunity to act outside the system, promoting themselves on YouTube, MySpace, Facebook... carefully placing pieces of media and cultivating followings among specifically targeted communities.

Web fame is a moving target and utterly unpredictable. David Weinberger, fellow at the Harvard Berkman Centre for Internet & Society, thinks the people who are successful at chasing online fame do it by seeking 15 followers, rather than Warhol’s 15 minutes. At a conference about internet trends in 2008, Weinberger said it was about cultivating those personal connections by engaging with communities and by getting mentioned on important blogs for your particular niche.

Finally, web 2.0 has given us the accidental celebrity, where people are suddenly catapulted unwittingly into the spotlight like Stephen Holmes from the UK who was the only person followed on Twitter by Kanye West last year. Stephen Holmes is the accidental celebrity who had to deal with unexpected media intrusion and acquired about 1,600 new followers. Holmes said, “I feel pressure to say amusing and witty tweets now.” Hmm, they do say never meet your heroes...maybe in Tweetdom its okay.

Photo Credit: Dave_B_