Today, a majority of the faces you see in gossip magazines are there for something other than talent. These publications, in addition to TV and the internet, have proven that you don’t need to be a great actor or singer to get celebrity status. Those with parents and/or siblings who are already mixed in with the Hollywood crowd have an opportunity to join them, and when they do, it’s usually to a bad result. Aside from this, the creation of reality television has people getting famous for things like their luxurious lifestyle, their bad habits, their family drama, and much more. The programs aim to follow their subjects as they live their everyday lives and deal with their problems (i.e. mental health disorders, addictions, occupational hazards, and so on). All this considered, talent is not a prerequisite for a reality show. The same goes for celebrity children and/or siblings, who don’t need that big break since their last name alone gets them recognized.
For the offspring of famous musicians and actors, their last names automatically give them a foot in the door. As members of the public we want to see how these lucky kids turn out, and we usually anticipate train wrecks since they were raised in Hollywood. No matter which way they go, family members of major celebrities are almost always guaranteed fame if they step out with their already-established parents and/or sisters/brothers. When they embrace the spotlight, these people have a much better chance of making the tabloids. Without a doubt the best example of a celebrity whose taken this route is Paris Hilton. The innocent looking blonde gets VIP treatment wherever she goes, and her brand has become a billion-dollar empire. Paris originally got the chance to party with Hollywood socialites because her last name represents the well-known Hilton hotel chain, a business founded by her great grandfather. At first, the 29-year-old heiress became a tabloid regular as a result of her partying. Her celeb status took off after the Fox reality series “The Simple Life”, which co-starred Nicole Richie, her BFF at the time (2003). Richie was another celebrity baby per say, as she was adopted and raised by songwriter Lionel Richie. “The Simple Life” plotline used the girls’ upbringing as the basis for the show, as they attempted to adjust to life outside of Beverly Hills by living and working on a farm.
Following the show, Hilton embraced her status as a ditzy partygirl, making frequent outings carrying one of her small pets and acting friendly towards the paparazzi. In 2003 the seemingly innocent Hilton endured a sex tape scandal that threatened to destroy her image. Just one week prior to “The Simple Life” premiere, Vivid Entertainment published a tape of Paris Hilton and then-boyfriend Rick Solomon titled One Night in Paris. Sadly, the film would make the heiress even more popular. As years passed, the public would get over her behavior, and a baby-voiced Hilton would continue to enjoy the adoration of fans around the world. To date she’s had multiple product endorsement deals and paid appearances. She’s also starred in movies, authored a book and starred in two seasons of her own reality show. This was all made possible as a result of being the great granddaughter of Conrad Hilton.
In addition to Nicole Richie, Hilton also introduced another face to Hollywood, and she’s since become a superstar. As the daughter of the late Robert Kardashian, one of O.J. Simpson’s defense attorneys, Kim Kardashian was initially unknown to the American public. During her E! True Hollywood story, the 30-year-old brunette bombshell relives the moment she felt like somebody in Hollywood. After nights of clubbing with then-BFF Paris, the paparazzi were taking pictures of the two on the red carpet when one photographer yelled “Over here, Kim!” The reality star couldn’t believe they knew her name. Unfortunately for Kim and her family, all of America would know more than her name after a sex tape surfaced in 2007 that featured the brunette and then-boyfriend Ray J. Just as it had done for Paris, the sex tape scandal multiplied Kim’s celebrity. Now, years later, “Keeping Up With The Kardashians” is one of E!’s most popular shows. The success even got Kourtney and Khloe their own gig on the channel as well as a number of endorsement deals and appearance requests. The three Kardashian sisters are definitely among the most sought-after stars in Hollywood right now, and it all started with Kim’s family ties and her friendship with Paris Hilton.
As proven by the two scenarios mentioned previously, a famous family name combined with scandal makes for the best tabloid fodder. An example that clearly illustrates this is the case of Bristol Palin, daughter of former VP candidate Sarah Palin. The 20-year-old just finished a successful gig on “Dancing with the Stars”, where as a shy newbie she shocked everyone by placing third in the finals. A spot on ABC’s hit show came after six years of being known only as Sarah Palin’s 14-year-old pregnant daughter. The expectant teen mom could be seen joining her own mother on the Republican campaign trail in 2008. Bristol’s experience has been documented in numerous magazine interviews, and she also starred in a commercial where she advises other teenagers of the hardships that come with having a baby at such a young age. The popularity of Bristol Palin was matched by the father of her son, who proved to be quite the attention-seeking character. Levi Johnston is known as being Bristol’s baby daddy. After the 2008 presidential campaign, Johnston tried to take full advantage of his 15 minutes of fame, and he continues to put it before fatherhood. Earlier this year he was shopping the idea of his own reality show, which, according to Levi, would follow him and his friends as they horsed around in Alaska. Luckily for Bristol and the public, Johnston has not yet succeeded in this endeavor.
American Idol is a great example of how a lack of talent can make someone famous. When the show’s participants appear on national television, their auditions get exposed to the world. At the same time the memorable contestants are handed over to the chopping block. They quickly become “YouTube” sensations. For these overnight celebs, fame isn’t as enduring. The public scrutiny can also be harsh, since it’s something they are not accustomed to handle.