As Elizabeth Currid-Halkett explains in her fascinating, well-researched new book, Starstruck: The Business of Celebrity, recent developments in the celebrity industry can tell us a great deal about our changing global culture. In an era in which more and more people are feeling alienated from their peers, stars give us a common language and allow a greater degree of social cohesion. They also fuel enormous industries — celebrity-driven occupations generate $1.5 billion in salary in Los Angeles alone. Elsewhere in the book, Currid-Halkett, the author of The Warhol Economy and an assistant professor at the University of Southern California, uses party photographs and Google to draw fascinating conclusions about the geography and social stratification of the celebrity world (Note to Angelina Jolie: Getting photographed in Las Vegas might actually hurt your fame).
Salon spoke to Currid-Halkett over the phone from Los Angeles, about our changing star culture, our obsession with celebrity minutiae, and why Paris Hilton actually deserves our respect.’ (Salon.com).