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Celebrity vs. Star

Posted by R. Berg on December 04, 2002

In Reply to: Celebrity vs. Star posted by Steve Thorne on December 04, 2002

: : : : : : : : : Can anyone tell me whether 'star' can apply to anyone who is famous/talented/successful in any given field or if it is more specific? I had a heated debate today with colleagues who thought that Kirsty Wark (a British presenter on a news programme) was not a TV star because they thought she was not a 'celebrity'. I argued that since she is very well-known and appears on TV she must be a star. To me, star, celebrity and personality are synonymous. Can anybody help????

: : : : : : : : Here's my (American) understanding of the difference: All stars are celebrities, but not all celebrities are stars. A star is a glamorous celebrity. A well-known politician or author or physicist may be a celebrity but not a star. I have little notion of what a personality is in that sense.

: : : : : : : : The definitions of "star" in the American Heritage Dictionary include these:
: : : : : : : : (As a noun) An artistic performer or athlete whose leading role or superior performance is acknowledged.
: : : : : : : : (As an intransitive verb) To play the leading role in a theatrical production.

: : : : : : : A "star" is more exalted and permanent than the more ordinary actor/personality/celebrity. But the word was used so often that someone came up with "super star."

: : : : : :
: : : : : : I am afraid I am with your colleagues on this one. Ms Wark is just a TV presenter and *maybe* a "media personality" at a desperate stretch. I say this because although she is well known from her appearances on television, as far as I know, her opinions are not sought nor is she invited to appear on programs soley on the basis of the interesting and profound things she has to say. AT least this was the case when I was last in the UK. I also agree that "star" tends to be closely identified with art and entertainment.

: : : : : I'm jumping on this particular bandwagon, and think that, strictly speaking, things are even more limited than have been currently discussed. Stars certainly aren't defined by having an interesting point of view - it's an entirely unnecessary criterion. These days, stars are in my opinion limited to the world of film, and maybe theatre at a stretch - a star of stage and screen being my reference expression. Isn't the origin of star tied up with theatrical advertisement posters, anyway? Can you have a sports star? I'm not convinced. You can't have a musical star, that's for sure - nobody would call Mick Jagger or any other pop icon you'd care to mention a star, though I fully grant you that there are plenty of divas. The situation is confused by usage of combined expressions like star performer, star turn, rising star and so on.

: : : : : Regardless, Ms. Wark is absolutely not a star, any more than Trevor McDonald (a well-seasoned British newsreader) is, and he'd deserve a star accolade far more than she would.

: : : : Okay okay - pop stars. Music *can* have stars.

: : : "Rock star" is extremely common in the U.S. "Classical star" isn't; a classical musician, however talented, can only become a virtuoso. Use of "star" in sports seems uneven. "Track star" is a standard phrase, but not "swimming star" or "golf star"; commentators sometimes say "golf great." Not "baseball star," either; but "star pitcher," "star first baseman," when referring to an outstanding player on a particular team.

: : Somebody (I can't remember who) defined "celebrity" as someone who is famous for being famous. A star evidently needs to have some discernable* (if sometimes minor) skill that's meaningful to some audience segment.
: : So, a celebrity is someone who appears on the Larry King Show, or one of the other epidemic of talk shows. A star is someone the fawning host sucks up to.
: : I am assured that Adam Sandler is a star. I have not been able, however, to detect the existence of his purported talent.

: I thoroughly concur with this last remark. I'm beginning to think that in this day and age, when you can instantly become feted in the media with or without any discernible talent, the 'star' label can be and very often is attached to just about anyone who is famous. It's only the notorious to whom the star label does not apply.

I suspect the publicists are responsible.