The six-stage celebrity life cycle

Stage 1: It’s all about the exposure

Following your big break, people begin to stand up and take notice that you have that certain “It Factor.” Everyone wants to claim status as being the first to have discovered you, and they clamor to introduce you as the new up and comer.

Stage 2: It’s all about the cross-branding

With your career in full swing, you are touted as the hottest thing since sliced bread. Your people stress the importance of striking while the iron is hot — meaning you are expected to take advantage of every endorsement opportunity that comes your way. You must publicly attribute every soft drink/cell phone/clothing line you are hocking as the secret to your success.

Stage 3: It’s all about the backlash

Inevitably, at some point an unflattering photo of you is taken. Impressionable youth suddenly do a double-take and realize that this cow in the sweat suit and bad acne is the standard of perfection I have been holding myself up to?! And make no mistake — they will feel lied to. Not by the magazines that air-brushed your photos, or the spin-doctors who made you seem oh-so fabu-licious — but by you. What’s that? You never said you were perfect? (Sorry – we couldn’t hear you over the sound of the laughter coming from the VIP booth at your launch party.)

Stage 4: It’s all about the lies! All lies!

Still reeling from the shock and betrayal of discovering that there is a difference between image and reality, the public begins to wonder what other lies you’ve been covering up. The tabloids feature “before and after” photo lay-outs of your body, speculating on your cosmetic surgeries and you are pissed. (Mostly because they didn’t seem to notice the work that you actually did have done – and you’re not paying through the nose for subtlety!)

Stage 5: It’s all about the privacy

It’s a good thing Hollywood careers are shrinking in proportion to people’s attention spans, because it’s probably going to take you the next twenty years to process how you went from being the most envied person in the world to the most ridiculed. At this stage you may also read up on the lives of other fallen heroes throughout history and take comfort in their trials and tribulations. You might even be tempted to speak openly about this and draw some sort of parallel between your life and that of Jesus Christ.

Stage 6: It’s all about the comeback/drug overdose/self-imposed exile

The choice is yours. Only you can determine how the story ends. But take heart in knowing that whether it ends in tragedy or triumph, you will still be commemorated on at least one more episode of Entertainment Tonight.

The Best of Popjournalism
Tanner Zipchen brings a bit of the Prairies to Hollywood
Media & AdvertisingMar 21, 2016
Finding balance with Dr. Marla Shapiro
NewsNov 4, 2006
22 minutes with Mary Walsh
Books & PublishingNov 25, 2004
Everybody Loves George Stroumboulopoulos
Media & AdvertisingSep 18, 2006
On the record with Wendy Mesley
Media & AdvertisingJan 24, 2004
The Return of Wild Strawberries
MusicSep 10, 2005
Law & disorder: Inside CBC TV's This is Wonderland
Law & PoliticsMay 30, 2005
Til Schweiger takes flight in 'The Red Baron'
CelebritiesMar 11, 2010