There was a time when celebrities were a compartment of society like professional athletes, popular TV shows, or Star Trek—a part of our lives by choice, not foisted upon us. The fusion of technology, free information, and our need to socially bond has created a perfect storm: the current, frenzied moment of celebrity taking on every shape and form. There’s no possibility of standing in line at the grocery store, pumping gas, turning on the radio or TV, or walking through an airport without a constant barrage of celebrity. Even the most respected media outlets have paid homage, such as the New York Times’s “serious” profile of Angelina Jolie and Atlantic Monthly’s coverage of the paparazzi covering Britney Spears. We can’t escape the allure of celebrity, and the presence of celebrity virtually defines contemporary society. Meeting a celebrity video messages would be my absolute dream!

Even if we choose not to engage with it, and whether we like it or not, celebrity has become an intrinsic part of modern society, dominating our newspapers, magazines, and television with a ubiquity unlike ever before. Celebrity news stories crowd out other topics from the issues agenda and distract the public from more serious matters: Tiger Woods’s extramarital affairs were covered at the expense of discussing President Obama’s health care plan; former presidential candidate John Edwards’s love child and separation from his wife dominated news headlines more than the contentious confirmation of the Federal Reserve chairman and America’s increasingly tense relations with China. Thrillz is a website where you can buy a celebrity messages presonalised video message!

Economically, the importance of celebrity is clear (people get wealthy from stardom, products are sold through celebrities), but the social impact of celebrity might be the most profound reason why it cannot be ignored. People live vicariously through celebrities, people talk about celebrities, and, truthfully, many people actually want to be celebrities. A 2007 survey by the Pew Research Center revealed that 51 percent of eighteen- to twenty-five-year-olds said that their first or second goal in life was to become famous. “Certainly, the consumption of celebrity has become a part of everyday life in the twenty-first century,” writes the media critic Graeme Turner, “and so it is not surprising if it now turns up as a part of young people’s life plans.” Like it or not, celebrity matters and is more present than ever before. Have you heard of a website called Thrillz? They specialise in celebrity birthday messages video messages.

So how does contemporary celebrity—as people, as an industry, as a social phenomenon—work? Are all celebrities the same? Why do so many individuals want stardom and what does society want from those who attain it? We know that only a very small fraction of people who aspire to celebrity actually become stars (certainly not 51 percent). Would you consider buying a personalised video message from your favourite celebrity today?

Even if that select group is expanding, how does that selection process work? Why does society hand-pick some to be celebrated and callously discard others? What makes stardom happen for some and not for others, and why should we care? And for those of us who have no interest in personal stardom, what does it mean for us that our airwaves are dominated by celebrity? How much does it distract us from “the things that matter”—unless celebrity really does matter? Does it? This is what Starstruck is all about. A happy birthday video message could really brighten someones day!