Internet Killed the Elusive Star


The title of this piece is a hint back to a 1980’s song called, “Video Killed the Radio Star.” I first heard the song over a decade ago in a documentary celebrating the creation of MTV. In the documentary, it was relayed over and over again how MTV’s creation ushered in a new era of music that demanded musical acts to not only sound good but also look good, providing stimulating and engaging imagery for their music.

Fast forward thirty-two years later and the internet is what dominates the tone in the music industry. It’s where we hear about upcoming projects, discuss our favorite artists’ career trajectory, anticipate what is to come next, and hear their music for the first (or hundredth) time. As surprising and jolting as it may have been to see Michael Jackson’s first music video on television thirty years ago, it is still mind-numbing to me that something so intangible as the internet can create a space that allows people to gather and influence a major industry and celebrities.

For most of the history of fame and entertainment, celebrities have been these elusive characters that appear to live in a galaxy far from ours. Their lives were enraptured with mystic. We didn’t know what their kids looked like, what breakfast foods they enjoyed, nor which one of their fellow industry peers they did not particularly care for. Everything surrounding their image was handled with great care. Most often when you saw a star was when they had a project they were selling to the public. Afterwards, they’d go back from whence they came doing their best to stay away from prying eyes. Paparazzi wasn’t a kind word. My earliest knowledge of them came from seeing photos of the late Princess Diana doing her best to shield her face from aggressive photogs.

Now, I can count on seeing a celebrity even when they have nothing to sell. Celebrity blogs, paparazzi opportunities, open Twitter feuds, subliminal messages on Instagram are all big business. It doesn’t take much nor long to tire of a pop icon these days. We see them everywhere. We know when they go shopping, when they went to the beach with their children, which salon they frequent for manicures, how long they stayed in a store on Rodeo and the last time they went to dinner with their mate. This is not solely due to the ever growing business of street photographers; celebrities now are inviting the public into their lives in a way we have never previously witnessed. Instagram and Twitter alone have helped the public feel as if celebrities no longer inhabit their own private world, but a community in which they are reachable and touchable.

Some may find this new phase of celebrity exciting and inviting. Not only does it help the stars of yesteryear stay relevant, it has also catapulted some everyday social media users into being well-known individuals. As the internet progresses and the media’s insatiable appetite for more celebrity news items grows, it’ll be interesting to see to what lengths stars will go to remain known to the public.

Valerie Charles is a writer based in Brooklyn, NY. She blogs at You can follow her on twitter @Vivaciously_Val.


  1. I remember how back in the day stars tried to be as elusive as possible. I remember watching something on VH1 about that as well. You wanted to be a mystery and make the public pine for you. Now it’s just the opposite. Elusiveness will almost render you irrelevant. Now you have to sell your whole life to the public to keep their attention, especially if you’re singer. Nothing is private anymore and every aspect of a celebrity’s life is for sell.

  2. great article. thank you for sharing. also, “video killed the radio star” is an earworm in my head. so thanks again 🙂

  3. I remember feeling like it were a treat to see TLC, Michael Jackson, Janet Jackson(still). Because you didn’t see them every day and they weren’t topic discussion in every day life.

  4. Great read!

    The sharing on social media is kind of getting ridiculous now with celebrities and people in general. The mystery of the artists from the past made you excited when they resurfaced again. Today…I feel like everyone is scared of being replaced. But the quality of your art…and your talent is what really should hold your audience.

  5. I too remember the days when you couldn’t wait until an awards show came on so you could see your faves. Now, it’s just overkill.

    I agree with the previous comment that talent and the quality of the art Should hold an audience. However, the people “consuming” the art have the attention span the size of an ant these days. That’s why these celebs are driving themselves crazy trying to stay out front.

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