My favorite show on television is Oprah: Behind the Scenes. I’m anticipating a restraining order from my DVR for watching it so often. Whether you like her or not, she’s kind of friggin’ fascinating.
What enamors us about Oprah and, more broadly, celebrity, is that members of the glitterati are empires unto themselves—fragile giants built on social capital and, occasionally, talent. They are living showcases of glamour, fortune, empowerment, and aspiration. They lead the fantasy life—at least from afar.
Besides the A-List, there’s a group of interesting smaller-scale celebrities called the Local Celebrity, composed mostly of broadcast-network-affiliate anchormen and women.
In addition to their informing-the-public responsibilities, these folks help guide charitable fundraising for their communities, emcee dinners and silent auctions, make appearances at state fairs, and (attempt) to brighten our day with cheerful banter over the morning news desk.
The Local Celebrity is the most delicate version of their species. While Oprah must appeal to an entire demographic, the Local Celebrity must appeal not only to the tastes of a smaller demographic, but also to a regional one.
Also, the anchorman’s industry competition is a tough cookie to break considering there are only so many lenses with which to view the news (and how many more adjectives can we find for Doppler radars?).
The Local Celebrity, then, must have that sparkling personality to set one apart—a personality that not only influences his or her audience, but also exceeds his or her expectations in such a way as to outdo the competition. This applies to all local celebrities, from the anchorperson to the socialite.
So, Oprah is that former-Local Celebrity-turned-American Queen. In my heart, she’s still leading the life of a Local Celebrity, but on a much, much larger scale—which is why she’s become, well, Oprah. Something can be learned from her, and from all local celebrities.
We each have a network of friends and acquaintances (our “demographic,” if you will) who love us for who we portray: ourselves. Like the Local Celebrity, we influence our networks with words, and with the examples we set with our actions.
Over the next year-and-a-half especially, we’re all Local Celebrities. Keep this in mind. An amendment battle is brewing.