Author Topic: Small country vs. big country: fame  (Read 1372 times)

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jmarvellous

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Small country vs. big country: fame
« on: May 09, 2013, 09:56:55 AM »
We watched the Norwegian film "Headhunters" ("Hodejegerne") last night, and in it, there's a guy described as Norway's most famous police officer, something pretty foreign to me as an American -- our local police chief is well-known here but I wouldn't expect someone an hour away to know who he is; people often wouldn't know the name of the head of the FBI!

Now, it could just be a convenient plot element, but it got me thinking about how fame works in various places. Aside from movie/TV stars and the very top political leaders, who qualifies as "famous" in your country? How lasting is fame?

(For the latter question, I'm reminded of the recent US House election of Mark Sanford -- though he'd been in the news just a short while ago (2009) for his wild affair and stepping down as South Carolina's governor, many people I know didn't remember his name, or only vaguely did, when he was in the news this week.)

When is someone "famous" to you?

Thipu1

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Re: Small country vs. big country: fame
« Reply #1 on: May 09, 2013, 03:08:43 PM »
When I was a teenager, there was a local celebrity in our county for several months.  His name was Bill Vines and he was an unsuccessful candidate for sheriff.  His bid for office wasn't what got him in the news.  A bumper-sticker did that for him.

A very expensive car from the county was stolen in NYC. It was recovered when police officers stopped the driver for a minor traffic violation and got suspicious.  The car had a bumper-sticker that read, 'Elect Bill Vines'.  All the officer had to do was ask, 'Who's Bill Vines?'

I'm pretty sure every kid in the county who tried tried to lie about something they'd done would be asked, 'Who's Bill Vines?' for a good half a year. 

 


jmarvellous

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Re: Small country vs. big country: fame
« Reply #2 on: May 09, 2013, 10:09:47 PM »
I'm  not sure I get that story, sorry!

Ereine

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Re: Small country vs. big country: fame
« Reply #3 on: May 10, 2013, 07:40:09 AM »
I'm in Finland and we actually have a police officer who's gotten pretty famous. He's a pioneer of online police work (like having a presence on social media and making it easier for teenagers for example to report things like sexual harassment online) and so he's the expert (it seems that in a small country there's room for only one expert in a given field) for all sorts of information about children's internet use and things like that.

I assume that in some ways fame here is similar to larger countries, it's just probably easier to become a national celebrity (much of our media is national). There's fleeting celebrity often created by tabloids, people who predict the weather based on behavior of frogs (the Toad Professor), people who try to break records drinking soda on tv (Kola-Olli) and people who will drive across the country on a mini-tractor, if enough people like their Facebook page. People may remember their tabloid nicknames years later but the actual fame fades pretty quickly.

Then there are people who seem to be famous for strange reasons. There's for example a woman whose affair with a minister caused his resignation, five years later she's still famous for mostly behaving badly in public. Another example is an Estonian woman who married a Finnish designer and whose main job is to tell Finnish women how ugly and fat and unstylish they are (and how much better Estonian women are in every way, they even gain weight better). She sells a lot of magazines. Finns seem to like tragic stories, especially when it involves alcohol. Possibly the most famous of the tabloid celebrities is Matti Nykänen, once one of the most successful ski jumpers in the world, these days an alcoholic who seems to make his living by being in tabloids with his dysfunctional relationships, jail time (for assaulting his wife, among other things) and other screw-ups.

For lasting fame you probably have to achieve something. There are the politicians, actors, writers (like Sofi Oksanen who's a good celebrity on top of being a good writer, not really for the tabloids but she's recognizable and opinionated), musicians and so on. We possibly have more celebrities as politicians as some other countries, famous people will often get asked to be candidates by different parties as it's assumed that they will get votes just because they're well-known and because of the voting system they will benefit other candidates too and so we have had members of parliament who used to be athletes or models or actors or singers and one MTV Europe VJ.

jmarvellous

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Re: Small country vs. big country: fame
« Reply #4 on: May 10, 2013, 10:47:07 AM »
Thanks, Ereine!
My fiance says, "Tell her she just made me want to move  to a small European country!"

I guess we have semifamous "weird" people here, but it's people like the Octomom (had 8 kids, is kind of a mess at least in her public image; hasn't been in the news in a long time as far as I know), and businesspeople/entrepreneurs like Mark Zuckerberg (Facebook), Bill Gates or Warren Buffett.

TeamBhakta

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Re: Small country vs. big country: fame
« Reply #5 on: May 10, 2013, 10:53:59 AM »
Reminds me of something that comes up on my gossip boards: You'll see an actor or singer from FarFarAwayville billed as "Tommy NoName is FarFarAwayville's most beloved actor / singer. FarFarAwayville fans were sad to see him go, but are also excited he is branching out and has tons of fans in NewCountry. NewCountry is lucky to have him!" Cue snickering from people in FarFarAwayville + fans of FarFarAwayville music / film, since Tommy is either an extra nobody's heard of or he's known as "that d-bag who sings like a cat in heat and would show up to the opening of a letter."

Snooks

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Re: Small country vs. big country: fame
« Reply #6 on: May 11, 2013, 04:01:13 PM »
My favourite example of this is a glamour model in the UK named Jordan who is mainly famous for, well I'm not really sure but she's had lots of reality shows made about her.  Last year maybe she got married for the third(?) time at an "exclusive" Sandals resort.  She tried to claim that the staff at the resort tipped of journalists and insulted her.  The manager responded basically saying they had no idea who she was or that she was famous but that they'd give her a refund if she promised never to come back.


Ereine

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Re: Small country vs. big country: fame
« Reply #7 on: May 11, 2013, 04:37:45 PM »
There's a singer here who isn't very popular, not A list by any means. I read some interview of him and he talked about how he used to sell stories of himself to the gossip magazines but these days he he's successful enough so that he doesn't have to do it anymore and so now the stories are "pirated" (he doesn't seem to get the idea of the magazines). He also said that his public personality is completely different from his private life and the fame doesn't match his real life. Unfortunately what you read about him is that he abused his former wife for years (with whom he cheated on his first wife) and abandoned his pregnant girlfriend, that's not just trying to make your life seem crazier when you're actually a homebody.

I almost forgot one strange celebrity. There's a man who owns a giant discount store in the middle of nowhere that's a popular tourist attraction. He's added a hotel and some other things, based on his idea of American Dream. Here's pictures of the hotel, which is pretty grandiose considering the location. The owner is pretty famous, even before he got a reality series, partly for his business ideas, partly for some drunken idiocy (it is Finland after all) and his quest to find a worthy girlfriend somewhere outside Finland (the latest stop was in Gambia, where he traveled with his friend, the singer from above).

Thipu1

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Re: Small country vs. big country: fame
« Reply #8 on: May 11, 2013, 05:51:47 PM »
I'm  not sure I get that story, sorry!

The car was only about a year old when it was stolen  and it had an 'Elect Bill Vines' bumper sticker.  When the car was stopped and the driver didn't know who Bill Vines was, the cops knew they were talking to the driver of a stolen car. 

Library Dragon

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Re: Small country vs. big country: fame
« Reply #9 on: May 11, 2013, 07:35:35 PM »
When is someone famous for me?

Perhaps when there is an instant name recognition.  The Kardashians come to mind.  I've never watched one episode of their shows, bought anything related to them, but I know the names and know they were on a reality TV show. This is cult of famous for being famous. 



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CakeEater

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Re: Small country vs. big country: fame
« Reply #10 on: May 11, 2013, 09:24:14 PM »
Australia here. I hate watching sport and the whole culture of professional sport, but I would have to say that sportspeople are among our most famous people.

baglady

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Re: Small country vs. big country: fame
« Reply #11 on: May 16, 2013, 07:05:15 PM »
I don't know who the head of the FBI is now, but when it was J. Edgar Hoover, everybody here in the U.S. did.

I think every country has people who are famous for weird reasons -- i.e., being something other than a newsmaker or entertainer. Since Hoover died, we no longer have a most famous police officer, but we do have a most famous airline pilot: Sully Sullenberger, who brought that plane down in the Hudson River a few years ago.

Of course, with reality TV now, everyone can be a "star." Who'd have thought 20 years ago that a chubby kid from Georgia who competes in small-time kiddie pageants would have her own TV show? Or that the daughters of a deceased Hollywood lawyer/stepdaughters of a former Olympian would not only have multiple TV shows but be on all the magazine covers month after month?
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TeamBhakta

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Re: Small country vs. big country: fame
« Reply #12 on: May 16, 2013, 07:36:57 PM »
Or that the daughters of a deceased Hollywood lawyer/stepdaughters of a former Olympian would not only have multiple TV shows but be on all the magazine covers month after month?

Expect them to get even more covers soon, since people are asking why Kanye and another famous man keep getting apartments near each other + spending long hours together while pregnant Kim gets left behind.  >:D

baglady

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Re: Small country vs. big country: fame
« Reply #13 on: May 16, 2013, 07:39:35 PM »
Or that the daughters of a deceased Hollywood lawyer/stepdaughters of a former Olympian would not only have multiple TV shows but be on all the magazine covers month after month?

Expect them to get even more covers soon, since people are asking why Kanye and another famous man keep getting apartments near each other + spending long hours together while pregnant Kim gets left behind.  >:D

Aha! I knew it! Kanye is a gay fish!

(Not that there's anything wrong with that.  ;))
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Ereine

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Re: Small country vs. big country: fame
« Reply #14 on: May 16, 2013, 11:21:23 PM »
I just remembered a fame in a small country sort of story (though Finland isn't like Iceland where everyone seems to know everyone). Our current president's wife is about thirty years younger than he is, a few years older than I am. She's from a small town where my aunt and uncle live and my aunt taught her Swedish at school. She was later involved in a poetry movement and got to know my cousin (son of another uncle). These days she's the head of a book fair in my town and my stepmother is on its board. I've seen her a few times (only seen, I have no personal connection), at the book fair and when she and the president came to dedicate a statue here. Seeing the president is a pretty big deal here too, there were lots of polica but it's still very different in a small apparently safe country. I once saw our previous president shopping at a market. She did have bodyguards but other than that she was like anyone and people weren't paying much attention as she was known to shop there often.