For better or for worse, there’s a fairly well-established status hierarchy for professionals in the US, with doctors near the top, and janitors near the bottom. Is there a similar status hierarchy for celebrities?
I happened across this old interview with Death Cab for Cutie’s Ben Gibbard, in which the following exchange was made (irrelevant parts elided for clarity):
IGN: What do you think of people who start dating actresses when their bands make it super big?
Ben Gibbard: What’s my opinion on that? You know what’s really strange is Death Cab played in Washington last May. Coldplay headlined the thing. So, all these guys from Death Cab were in the backstage area getting ready to go on and the bus pulls up and Coldplay gets off and of course Chris Martin is towing Gwyneth Paltrow through the crowd and everybody’s trying to do that thing where nobody wants to look, like everything’s normal, but this is probably going to be the only time that we’re ever going to get to see someone like this up close. She makes her way through the crowd and back and our friend Jed that works at Sub Pop had the best quote of the entire evening, “Great, the one chance I get to meet Gwyneth Paltrow and I’m in a f@#king bunny suit.”
I feel that levels of a celebrity are like similar to military rankings, you know? If you’re like a movie star, that’s like being an officer, but if you’re a rock star, it’s still like being enlisted. You can only go so high in the enlisted side of the Army. Even if you’re the biggest rock-star and you’re dating a movie star, even if it’s a low rent movie star, you’re like way lower than them. It’s a weird way to date up, but you’re still not ever going to be on their level.
Now, Gibbard’s view may be slightly biased — the people backstage at the show, being in the music industry already, are probably not going to be as impressed with seeing Chris Martin as you or I might be — but I think it hits home pretty well.
Among celebrities, who has the highest status? Let me rephrase this question to make it more concrete: if you were to run into several celebrities in a mall — a movie star, a rock star, a reality TV star, a sports star, and a supermodel — who is the first you’d mention you saw to your friends when you got back home?
Of course, individual preferences may vary, but my guess is that if you took a national average, you would find the following order:
1. Movie star
2. TV star
3. Sports star
4. Rock star
Movie stars get the edge over sports and rock stars because they have the unique combination of broad public appeal, longevity, and face time — everyone knows what they look like up close, so actually seeing them up close is more of a validation.
What do you think?