In high school the only celebrities were the athletes. I occasionally used to go to football and basketball games and was impressed at the huge crowds cheering at the games. I still have a vivid memory of it – the crowds cheering wildly when a player scored.
Even today the biggest celebrities are the entertainers - actors and athletes. The media even asks them their opinions on things they know nothing about. Who in their right mind cares what George Clooney or Lebron James thinks about politics? Or anything else? If they weren’t celebrities no one would give a thought to any of their opinions.
One of the reasons Trump won is that he was far more of a successful celebrity than Hillary Clinton. The Mainstream Media has lost its power to make candidates into successful celebrities, the way they failed with Hillary - and it's driving them nuts. Very few people take them seriously anymore. They’ve lost their celebrity status and their influence.
Society organizes itself around celebrity. Perhaps it always has – think of all the Kings and Queens and Princes and Princesses and other heroes of old, and of their portrayal in folk tales (it doesn’t surprise me at all that some people refer to Trump as “an emperor,” which is a version of a king).
Now as to why society does this I really don't know. I do know a lot of people imitated celebrities because they admired them (and even put them into stories as models to imitate), which they do even today. Imitating people means, “I want to be like them!”
Yet when someone becomes a celebrity some people try to destroy them. And they enjoy seeing them destroy themselves, the way Tiger Wood did.
I have mentioned such celebrities as Albert Einstein and Stephen Hawking and some of my posters have denigrated them. Since they are not celebrities themselves they are eaten up with envy (which they always deny) - and envy always wants to put people down (envy is just a greatly degraded form of admiration, and admiration is the benign form of envy). For example, when I was little my hero was Sean Connery as James Bond, who, as far as I am concerned, is still the best one – and he was supposed to be a hero. A mythological hero.
Celebrity is more about getting attention from other people than anything else. I assume it’s an attempt to seek happiness, what the Greeks called eudemonia (which I’ve written about before) i.e. well-being, which comes about through arête – excellence. And people can’t achieve excellence themselves at least want to watch people who have.
Nobody wants to be utterly ignored. That means not to be taken seriously at all. And everyone wants recognition and appreciation.
I’m sure in the past, now, and in the future, are people who said, “I’ll show them.” And even if they don’t articulate it, or aren’t even totally aware of it, it means to be successful – to be a celebrity.