With a chiseled physique to rival Thomas Jane’s and hair that might make Donald Trump cringe, John Basedow has been all over cable TV of late touting his “Fitness Made Simple” workout and nutrition videos. There’s an indecipherable charm to his “before-and-after photo”-laden spots, which one might describe as “hand-crafted” (read: They look like they were made in the basement). But there’s less charm in the way this Lord of the Regimens is touted in the commercials as “fitness celebrity John Basedow.”
TV has the capacity to lift ad characters into the pop-culture pantheon of Oft-Recognized Icons. But you’d be hard-pressed to find one whose popularity is generated entirely through self-promotion. If Basedow—who might be little-known outside the fitness or nutrition arena—is a fitness celebrity, does that mean anyone can be a celebrity if promoted as one on the tube? Hey, we could have a haberdasher celebrity! A food-taster celebrity!
It’s unfortunate that the celebrity moniker sometimes does spontaneously generate (see Top, Carrot). Still, there is something to be said for Basedow’s chutzpah in self-attaching this complimentary label. Perhaps that’s the kind of self-assurance that comes from having great abs rather than great advertising.
–Posted by Simon Butler