chapter  1
16 Pages


Contestants on a reality television show have no conspicuous talent, yet they often get status, if only for a short period. Once they are in the celebrity labor market, they can start dispensing the same resource that makes Hollywood actors and global rock stars celebrities: not talent, but presence. The entertainment industry had previously controlled the release of information on stars' private lives. By wrapping the world in an invisible network of communications, satellite broadcasters were able to bounce information off satellites and send it literally anywhere. Satellite television companies recognized no national boundaries. This effectively meant that virtually everyone on earth was part of one huge market. From nineteenth-century minstrel shows, through ragtime, the British music halls, silent film, radio and, of course, theater, popular entertainment forms invariably provided a showcase for figures who distinguished themselves from their contemporaries.