Between media celebrities and the youth: Exploring the impact of emerging celebrity culture on the lifestyle of young Nigerians

  • Chikezie Emmanuel Uzuegbunam


Interest in the famous seems to be a human phenomenon that goes as far back as recorded history. In ancient Greece and Rome, people created their gods as very human-like beings, complete with character flaws. Humans often appear captivated by those they see as glamorous. In the contemporary world, this phenomenon is being facilitated by the media. By performing such functions as status-conferral and agenda-setting, they have the power to set agendas on issues and confer status on personalities in the societies in which they are found. Today, young people are exposed, to an immense range of influential figures through television and radio, popular culture, print media and the Internet. Scholars have been led to interrogate how this affects young people, and to broaden the scope of celebrity studies. This study aimed at investigating the impact of celebrity culture on youth, and to determine whether they are affected more by their local or foreign celebrities. Based on the theory that media users can model after figures portrayed in the media, the study drew a sample size of one hundred and eighty undergraduates from Nnamdi Azikiwe Federal University in Awka, Anambra State of Nigeria and surveyed young people between the ages of 17 and 25. Findings suggest that the phenomenon of celebrity culture has become a reality in Nigeria, as young people are exposed for better or for worse to media figures. Furthermore, celebrity lifestyles as portrayed in mainstream and alternative media such as the Internet and satellite TV influence the social attitudes and lifestyles of these youth. Celebrity lifestyles affect their confidence and determination to be successful in life, the way they dress, talk, and handle issues about relationship, marriage and sex. The study contributes a Nigerian perspective to an already existing but scant dialogue on impact of popular culture and media images on the social behaviours and attitudes of young people. The study makes a call for media literacy: the cognitive abilities and critical competencies required for critical analysis and negotiation of media images (for instance, celebrities) circulated across the media.

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print ISSN: 2346-7126