Nobody Here But Us Celebs

It’s been a source of puzzlement in recent years: Why are Americans so fascinated with celebrities who, by any objective standard, are unfascinating? The chart below points to a possible explanation: Maybe we’re indulgent toward celebrities because so many of us expect to be celebs ourselves, however briefly. The figures come from a Harris Poll conducted this summer. People who’ve made it to age 65 without becoming famous are mostly resigned to finishing their days in obscurity, though a burst of fame still seems “very” likely to 6 percent and “somewhat” so to 8 percent of this cohort. By contrast, an outright majority of 25-29-year-olds think it “very” (24 percent) or “somewhat” likely (35 percent) that they’ll get their 15 minutes of fame. Just 9 percent in that age bracket think it’s “not at all likely.” The 18-24s are more modest, with 15 percent in the “very” category and 29 percent in the “somewhat” ranks. Celebs-in-waiting have their noblesse oblige ready, just in case: 84 percent of respondents said they’d probably use their fame “to help others who are less fortunate.” Just 30 percent said they’d use it to promote their “personal or career accomplishments.”