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Whatever happened to Hollywood stars?

It's time to say goodbye to the "DiCaprio generation"

Whatever happened to Hollywood stars?  It's time to say goodbye to the DiCaprio generation
Paris Hilton & Kim Kardashian
Addison Rae
Brent Rivera
Brooklyn Beckham
Evan Mock
Jacob Elordi
Jules LeBlanc
Logan Paul
Manu Rios
Paris Hilton & Kim Kardashian
Paris Hilton & Kim Kardashian
Paris Hilton & Kim Kardashian
Paris Hilton & Kim Kardashian
Paris Hilton & Kim Kardashian
Paris Hilton & Kim Kardashian

This week, Brooklyn Beckham's wedding photos have been making the rounds on the Internet - an event that received such intense press coverage that some wondered why Brooklyn Beckham deserved so much attention as a public figure. Without a doubt, David's eldest son is a modern celebrity, present on social media, in fashion campaigns and in tabloid headlines - yet his fame seems to feed on its own, without being the consequence of any output. If in the past celebrity status was the consequence of a specific role or profession, today that dynamic has changed and sees fame precede professional achievements and not follow them. If we wanted to define "Hollywoodian" celebrities of the past, in reference to the pop myth of Hollywood and its studios, we could speak today of post-Hollywoodian celebrities, who do not belong to the mythology of Hollywood cinema and its stars, now in crisis, but instead work on the interdisciplinary connection between television, digital media, fashion, publishing, gossip. An example of a post-Hollywood celebrity could be Jacob Elordi of Euphoria, incensed as a modern Brad Pitt but with a much smaller filmography; but also the creator/model/actor Manu Rios who has millions of followers on social networks, is invited to all fashion weeks and is featured on magazine covers despite having only two roles in two Spanish TV series; another post-Hollywood celebrity could be considered Evan Mock who is not precisely an influencer, not precisely an actor, not precisely a model but paradoxically all three at once. The list could go on. 

Brooklyn Beckham
Jacob Elordi
Evan Mock
Manu Rios
Logan Paul
Addison Rae
Brent Rivera
Jules LeBlanc

Those who have memories of the first decade of the 2000s are aware of how the celebrity system worked in a very distinct way: at the top of the food chain were movie stars, music stars, athletes and supermodels like Kate Moss and Naomi Campbell. Then came the TV personalities who, from time to time, tried to make the leap to the "Champion's League" of cinema, and then the various personalities of the entertainment world. Things changed with Paris Hilton, probably the first post-Hollywood celebrity of all, and in whose story is highlighted the feature that would have united all the celebrities of this type in the next twenty years: Paris was famous for being famous. One day the heiress was singing Stars Are Blind on MTV, the next day she was the star of a reality show, then she was creating a perfume, then the tabloids were talking about her, then she was starring in the cult-trash film House of Wax and then she was appearing in The O.C. She had celebrity status but it was not clear where this status came from exactly, because of her being famous the world was watching even when she went out in her tracksuit to have a coffee. In the same way, the entire career of Kim Kardashian, perhaps the most post-Hollywoodian of post-Hollywoodian celebrities and who took her first steps in the shadow of Paris Hilton, has developed in a unique confluence of social media, reality shows, fashion, tabloids, but it is impossible to determine exactly which is the most dominant. There are those who haven't seen a single episode of her reality show but know all about her for having seen her on social media, there are those who buy all the Skims collections, those who follow her on social media for her outfits. 

Paris Hilton & Kim Kardashian
Paris Hilton & Kim Kardashian
Paris Hilton & Kim Kardashian
Paris Hilton & Kim Kardashian
Paris Hilton & Kim Kardashian
Paris Hilton & Kim Kardashian
Paris Hilton & Kim Kardashian

It is clear that we are at a historical juncture where all the traditional categories are being reshuffled. The osmosis between digital media, publishing, fashion, music, cinema and streaming, the progressive and extreme segmentation of the public into a thousand niches and sub-niches, the possibility to build a career and get income from collateral deals as in the case of the many celebrity brands or podcasts, are calling into question the way we conceive the concept of celebrity - which is becoming less and less unifying and univocal and ends up dividing into fandoms, communities and followings. If virtually anyone in the early 2000s would have been able to say who Leonardo DiCaprio was, today we would find large swathes of the population unaware of who Charli d'Amelio is, who have never listened to a Lil Uzi Vert or Olivia Rodrigo song, or who don't know about the existence of Jeffree Star, who has 13 million followers on Instagram alone.  

And yet the question stays: «Will there be a universally known celebrity like Leonardo DiCaprio again?». The obvious answer might be Timothée Chalamet - yet it's impossible not to miss that milieu of many multigenerational stars capable of boasting a consistently excellent filmography for decades and uniting entire generations of viewers like those we knew in the early 2000s. If at one time a ceremony like the Oscars united because it was a parade of the famous and the very famous, today you would have a hard time recognizing all the actors on the red carpet, including stars of miniseries, actors famous for a single role or artists followed by millions of people who, outside their niche, no one has ever heard of. The main problem is cultural: one might wonder what will be left in the future of these celebrities and, above all, how long these figures will last if they do not produce a professional legacy that can survive them. Today's celebrities build tomorrow's pop culture - but today a great fame, inflated by social algorithms, corresponds to an ephemeral legacy: a few campaigns that we will have forgotten about in a year's time, a Netflix series seen and forgotten in a week of binge watching, a magazine cover. The recycling of these figures, by the way, is worrying - so much so that none of them have a chance to make their mark on the culture.

Paradoxically, celebrities seem to be fewer and fewer and yet there are more and more of them. Perhaps these great figures of artists, actors and singers have lost their ability to unite people in a social scenario that is based on personal following, on daily dialogue with a community that, however large, remains separate from the rest of the audience, on a relationship that between daily TikToks, chats about beauty routines or gym workouts becomes increasingly intimate and open. Perhaps we are so used to seeing these stars in their daily lives that we can no longer make them mythological figures in our collective consciousness: the abundance of exposure trivializes them. Or maybe it's our scenery that has changed, our entertainment channels become too many to be filled by a relatively small group of A-Listers. The multitude of these post-Hollywood celebrities gives us not only the measure of how many of us there are, but also of how and how much our culture has been fragmented and dispersed in its expansion towards the boundless and flat horizons of the digital future.