America's increasing reliance on celebrities may cause severe shortages in the next five to ten years. Our appetite for celebrities may be limitless, but the supply grows at a much slower pace than many realize according to the US Department of Commerce. In a report titled Can We Survive Post-Britney?, researchers point out that our celebrity culture is driven by a handful of mega-stars. Developing new celebrities is costly, time-consuming, and often results in "dry holes".
Both the US economy and social structure are heavily dependent on celebrities. Britney Spears alone is responsible for 10% of the GNP nearly half of all media content. This does not include porn, where accurate data is not available. Even President Bush has reportedly told friends that he is "addicted to Britney". According to the report, most of Americans would have little to talk about were it not for celebrity antics. "Worship of Britney and Lindsay is what unites our increasingly diverse and divided nation," warns the report.
Very little is being done to develop the next generation of celebrities. "Eventually Britney will gain 30 pounds or become a Jehovah's Witness," says Dr. Gifford Goldman, who studies celebrities at Yale, "and then whose skirt will we look up at?" Ironically, the success of the current crop of celebrities tends to crowd out newcomers.
The Department of Commerce suggests investment in the development of alternative celebrities, but critics maintain it would be cost-prohibitive. Goldman cautions that "We do not have enough time to let the free market resolve the celebrity problem."
The solution to the celebrity crisis may ultimately lie with the American people and the choices we make every day. As Dr. Goldman says, "The answer lies more in ourselves than in our stars."