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Prof. Kevin Howley Tells CBC Why People "Latch On to Celebrity"

September 8, 2006

Kevin Howley 2005.jpgSeptember 8, 2006, Greencastle, Ind. - Being photographed or the subject of news reports and being hounded for autographs is "part of the deal a celebrity who looks to achieve a sense of fame makes," Kevin Howley, associate professor of communication at DePauw University, tells the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation. "On the one hand, they wouldn't have the cachet in the absence of that type of attention. At the same time, once they get that attention, they're fair game. Is it fair? Is it right? No, but that's part of the deal they're making when they enter into this star system."

Dr. Howley's analysis is featured in a CBC online column, "Celebrity Stalking: Stop the Madness," by Georgie Binks. She writes, "Male sports celebrities get off much easier. Many have sex lives that make rock stars envious, but unless they call a news conference and announce it, you'll never hear it from adoring reporters. Howley believes there's a double standard when it comes to female celebrities and performers. 'There's an unwritten law at work,' he says, 'that has a lot to do with our Western ideals of gender differences. Guys are expected to sow their wild oats, but that's taboo for women.'"

Later in the article the professor observes, "Back in the 19th century, our lives revolved around certain institutions: school, church and family. But as we moved from a rural to urban society where those institutions were diminished, people felt less grounded, and we now look to autographs.jpgstars and sports figures as models of behavior. That's why we latch on to celebrity. There's something in modern living that's lacking."

Binks adds, "Journalists are to blame as well: Howley says covering the lives of movie stars is easier than doing investigative reporting. So true."

Read the complete column at the CBC's Web site.

Kevin Howley was recently quoted in an article in Texas' Austin American-Statesman examining the media response the events of 9/11.  Learn more in this previous story.

Source: Canadian Broadcasting Corp.

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