Cover image for What price fame?
What price fame?
Cowen, Tyler.
Personal Author:
Publication Information:
Cambridge, Mass. : Harvard University Press, 2000.
Physical Description:
248 pages ; 22 cm
Subject Term:
Format :


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BJ1470.5 .C69 2000 Adult Non-Fiction Central Closed Stacks

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In a world where more people know who Princess Di was than who their own senators are, where Graceland draws more visitors per year than the White House, and where Michael Jordan is an industry unto himself, fame and celebrity are central currencies. In this book, Tyler Cowen explores and elucidates the economics of fame.

Reviews 1

Publisher's Weekly Review

Primarily a look at the economic implications of our fame-driven culture, this compelling book, which reads like a long essay, also offers a philosophical meditation on the social and moral impact of fame on our public and private lives. Drawing on such diverse thinkers as Plato, St. Augustine, Jurgan Habermas and Pierre Bourdieu to bolster his arguments, Cowan, an economics professor at George Mason University, rambles through a wide variety of interrelated topics with varying success. While he engages the reader with some provocative ideas (such as that "diminishing privacy limits the creativity of performers and the diversity of society") and plenty of quirky facts (there are more than 3,000 Halls of Fame in the U.S., 30 of them for bowling alone; in 1986, the 10 public figures admired most by teenagers were entertainers), Cowan's view of fame itself is defined so loosely as to have little analytical or critical meaning. Many of his points are indefinite because they are either obvious or their basic terms are too vague: "Music stars," we are told, "use haircuts, styles of dress, and outrageous gimmicks to make themselves focal"; "the diminution of surprise plagues the aesthetic realm"; and "we can no longer look at Leonardo's Mona Lisa... with full freshness." Still, his graceful prose and refreshing perspective on the occasionally bizarre effects of capitalism will be enough to engage thoughtful readers. (Mar.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

Table of Contents

1 The Intensity of Fame in Modern Society
2 Why Fame Is Separated from Merit
3 The New Heroes and Role Models
4 The Test of Time
5 The Proliferation of Fame
6 The Dark Side of Fame
7 Lessons for the Future