By Thea Warren
To be a celebrity is to be known by people whom you do not know. To be so fascinatingly well known that a grainy photo of you in a hoodie walking the dog can fetch thousands of pounds. To be worshipped by people who will never actually meet you and who love you purely for the façade which your agents have carefully constructed. Who wouldn’t sacrifice their freedom, integrity and privacy for the knowledge that their every move would be photographed, documented and pored over by thousands of strangers? Facebook relies on it.
However, whilst the word “celebrity” has connotations of glamour, exclusivity and aloof cool, the everyday mortal should not be discouraged: it is getting ever quicker, easier and cheaper to have your fifteen minutes of fame. Those shamelessly jealous of Keira Knightley, Wayne Rooney, Lily Cole and Lewis Hamilton, celebrities who are barely older than us and already worth millions, should take comfort, whilst perhaps setting our sights a little lower – Big Brother 9, anyone? No, there is still hope for those of us who would rather not humiliate ourselves for the nation’s “entertainment” but also don’t have the talent or contacts to become a proper celebrity in the big wide world. We might as well try to achieve the status of College Celebrity and get a little groupie loving whilst we’re here, even if outside the Oxford bubble, no one can hear our fans scream.
One way to give the impression of celebrity is to add as a friend on Facebook anyone you’ve ever met. This can be awkward as it involves finding out the surname of everyone you’ve ever hooked up with, smiled at in Sainsbury’s or been introduced to by the friend of a friend’s girlfriend’s housemate’s tute partner. And in fact, Facebook celebrity is a dangerous game; it can be monumentally unconvincing if most of your “friends” know that they are little more than acquaintances and assume this to be true of your other 564 friends in the Oxford network.
The College Celebrity is that bloke who everyone gossips about in Freshers’ Week in the hopes of appearing well connected. The girl with the fantastic wardrobe who always looks as in control as she does busy, effortlessly balancing her work with nights out, netball and single handedly wiping out AIDS. The boy who was known for his fantastic eccentricity within weeks without even trying. He wasn’t on Facebook, wore his gown to Park End and became renowned throughout college for his bizarre taste in hats, penchant for listening to Bulgarian Diaphonic Singing and for that bop costume with the live goldfish and the frankfurters.
Those hoping to achieve college celebrity status have two options – become famous, or become infamous. One route involves more nudity and requires one to talk loudly about oneself at all the right parties. “Leaking” made-up stories about yourself to Evelyn might help. The other method is slower and requires much more effort (and talent) in the form of play rehearsals, training for sports teams, and weekly JCR meetings for those really keen political ‘slebs. Of course, it is best to be involved in University-wide activities in order to shine within your college and to attain that untouchable quality. Only very rare individuals manage to become college celebrities by force of personality alone and this is best only attempted by those exceptional social butterflies who are equipped with a sparkling wit and an impeccably casual attitude. The moment that someone looks as though they’re trying too hard, any ground already gained is lost. Desperation is to celebrity as a kebab flavoured burp is to romance, and the resulting success or failure can be exhilaratingly or catastrophically exponential. So develop a devil-may-care saunter and an insouciant glance. Your clothes (one word: stash) and hair need to look effortless. Learn to linger, lounge and laugh as though you were born in the limelight. Casual is your new middle name.
It’s not supposed to be easy. But of course if this all seems too complicated, we only need to turn to the example of the college celebrity who impressed everyone by doing a naked lap of the main quad within his first term and has since proved to several lucky ladies that it really was that cold that evening