How do we decide who makes up the celebrity A List?
I’m going to go slightly off-topic here this morning.
Last night, while listening to the Howard Stern show (you can listen to the show 24 hours a day now thanks to Sirius Satellite Radio, which is wonderful), I heard mention of someone referred to as an “A List celebrity.” You hear this all the time, of course. Angelina Jolie and Brad Pitt and Matt Damon and Scarlett Johansson are A Listers, and so on.
But who gets to decide who is included on this exclusive list? And going on down the logical line, we never really talk about who is part of a theoretical B List or C List, right? Usually the lower tiers of the metaphorical “list” are reserved for has beens, wannabes, and former stars, which comedienne Kathy Griffin self-mockingly references in her reality show My Life on the D-List. What about Jason Alexander, who played the wildly popular George Costanza on Seinfeld. What is he these days, B List maybe?
So this is a long-winded way of saying that we have a vague collective sense of who our biggest superstars are, and we kind of know the lowest tiers of fame when we are provided with examples.
Now, let’s tack back to the online media realm.
The appetite for celebrity and gossip content online is voracious and unending. Gawker, Defamer, Perez Hilton, TMZ, and the like are merely the biggest fish in a vast ocean of websites and blogs keeping a panting public updated on the goings on in the celebrity universe. We also know that people interested in gossip tend to be young, so it’s not a huge stretch to say that many are on social networking websites like MySpace, Last.fm, imeem, and so on.
So here’s my idea, which I’ll throw out there for public consumption and discussion.
What if there was a social media platform that focused on allowing its community to decide who is an A List celebrity? Taking this further, why not let people decide who exactly is B List, C List, and all the way down the line? A ranking system could allow the community to vote celebrities (and barely celebrities) up-and-down in real time. A social news engine could bring the hottest (and coldest, I suppose) celebrities to the front page, Digg-style. People would be able to comment about their beliefs on the topic and argue out their opinions with others.
Breaking celebrity news stories would drive people to this website to give and take away “votes” within the ranking system. Britney Spears drove a school bus full of kids into a lake? She’s dropped from B to C for sure, some might argue.
Take Steve Guttenberg as another random example. He was a big star in the ’80s, with the Police Academy movies and a bunch of other high profile projects. He’s still around these days, but you don’t hear about him that much. Is he B List today? C List? And what about someone who got eliminated from Flavor of Love 2 after the third week, thus ending their 4.5 minutes of fame? Maybe they’re F List (for Flavor)?
If done right, this website could become something of an arbiter for who stands where in the celebrity landscape. It could encompass an elegant combination of commenting, profiling, voting, and content features. It would have an enduring ability to track the celebrity/gossip world and become a natural home for fans worldwide.
Maybe someone is doing this already, someplace. But maybe not.