Fame, Popularity & Star Power

It’s always exciting to live in New York City. 🙂 However, right now, one of the exciting things about it is that NYC is a magnet for talent. Whether that’s in web development, music, video production & post… whatever. People that want to be the best at what they do head for NYC. Also, companies that are SEARCHING FOR people who are the best at what they do seek out talent in other places and bring them here.

I’ve been fortunate to hang out with and have convos with some people who have really thought about things in their chosen fields way more than I have, and I enjoy, listening and contributing what I can to the conversation, but mostly learning and expanding my mind and my vision because of my interactions with these progressive friends of mine. There really isn’t enough time in a day to learn everything you want AND to accomplish everything you intended to for the day, so it’s really a privilege to sit down with someone like Bre Pettis or Kenyatta Cheese or Tim Shey (or Bre AND Kenyatta AND Tim, hahaha) and have a heartfelt discussion about the concepts surrounding and supporting the creation and distribution of media on the internet, amongst other things.

Josh, Jen, Tim & Kenyatta
Josh, Jen, Tim & Kenyatta

Pertaining specifically to the title of this post, “Fame, Popularity & Star Power”… I had a convo with David Karp a while back that started questions roaming around in my mind and then I hung out with Justin Johnson a couple of days ago that brought this topic back to the forefront for me and gave me a better understanding of what I had wanted to explain to Dave at the time, but couldn’t properly articulate/express at that time.

The convo with Dave was about “Popularity” and the convo with Justin was about “Star Power”.

Justin & Bill
Justin & Bill

I make a lot of media… More than most people… By a longshot. Mostly, I create videos. I also text blog. When I get things set up the way I want them, I’ll be outputting video daily. Most of my videos have nothing to do with nothing… other than the fact that I felt like making them and I felt like posting them. Like this:

And this:I was completely unprepared for Dave to bring up “popularity” in reference to my media creation / posting. At the time, I was at a complete loss as far as explaining to him that my blogs / videoblogs aren’t about popularity at all. It was one of the very few times that I hadn’t thought out most of the underlying parameters to something I do, and someone was thinking on a level where they asked me something I couldn’t readily reply to. Another time was when I was battling Annie and her friends and they asked me to define what “acting like a girl” means, hahaha but that’s a different post. 😀 All I could do was deny wholeheartedly that my media production has ANYTHING to do with popularity, but I couldn’t put my finger on the explanation of why it was not… and I also couldn’t put my finger on exactly what I WAS doing, which would have bolstered my point.

This topic came back to my mind when I was speaking with Justin earlier this week about why people do shows and what they get out of doing those shows. In general, the conversation was about what people might sacrifice to do their craft vs what their takeaways are… the tradeoffs. It was about what people’s visions are for their shows or their characters. It was about what they’re building into their personal brand vs what’s being built into a company’s brand or a sponsor’s brand.

I meant to bring this up in my post about Eye Candy… the typical use of an attractive chick as a front to get guys to click on your content regardless of the actual value of that content. Let’s say you are a front for a show, the “face” of the show. What’s your takeaway from that? How much credit are you given for the success of the show? How much blame is heaped on you for the failure of that show? Are you seen as anything but someone who reads the teleprompter? Are you heralded as a writer? Someone who knows a lot about the technical field you were speaking about on the show? If you leave a show, what’s your takeaway? Do people see you as someone who could host a different show with the same level of success? As you’re doing a show, what are YOU building into YOUR personal brand?

As I thought about my conversations with Dave & Justin, it appeared to me that there are at least three distinctions which appear the same on the surface, but have completely different uses/values. There’s ‘Fame’, ‘Popularity’ and ‘Star Power’. Without consulting Webster’s for the actual definitions…

Fame is when a lot of people have heard of you. Of course, “a lot of people” is a relative term, so I suppose people can be famous within certain circles. There are people who are mega-famous within the Videoblogging or Web 2.0 echo chambers, but if you ask the average joe/josephine on the street, they’ve never heard of these people. Also, you can be famous without being popular, like when people have heard your name but don’t actually give a damn about anything you ever said or did. To a degree, I think you can be famous without having any star power at all… but I guess that depends on the definition of ‘Star Power’. 😀

Popularity is when a lot of people like something about you or something that you did. People are inclined to listen to what you have to say or pay attention to a project because you’re attached to it. This is why I say one can be famous without being popular. Just because someone’s heard of you doesn’t mean that they’re going to click on your video or email the link to their friends or link to your post in their social bookmarks. Then again, I guess that’s a Web 2.0 definition, hahaha. In the real world, popularity means you can rally troops, even though you’re not famous and people wouldn’t expect you to have the reach that you do.

I’m calling ‘Star Power’ the ability to bring added value to a production. People know your track record. People know your accomplishments in your chosen field. People know that your skills are transferrable from whatever you were working on previously to whatever you’re working on now. They know that when you’re involved, something worthwhile’s going to happen.

Depending on what your goals are in life, any of the three could be of use to you or preferable to you. You might want a lot of people to hear your name, but you don’t really care what they think about you (Fame). You might want a lot of people to think highly of you, but you’re not concerned with accolades or having people outside of your circle know “who you are” and what you do (Popularity). You might want to be known as someone who makes it happen and is an invaluable addition to any project… yet, you’re not interested in people outside of your field being aware of you, and certainly not the general public just knowing what your name is for no apparent reason (Star Power).

Having said all that, and congratulations to you if you’re still reading this, :)…

What I would have said to David on that day if I had understood the situation at the time, is that I wouldn’t post media to the internet to attempt to create popularity. This is because… I *AM* popular. I’ve been popular since my first recorded memory. I was popular in Kindergarten, Elementary School, High School and College. Most likely, I’ll be DEAD before I become unpopular, or just plain not-popular. This is because popularity is based on who you are as a person and how people react to you. I make new friends, literally, every time I go to an event. I look on the “definite” list of large, local facebook events, and typically, the first two pages, if not three (30 people) are populated with people I’ve had good times with IRL. So, being the type of person that generates his own popularity on the fly, in real-time, posting videos or text to the internet is not something I would do in order to “be popular” or “become popular”.

I don’t post for fame either, because to me, fame is worth way less than popularity. I get hits from around the world to BillCammack.com. Do I appreciate that? Yes. 🙂 Does it do anything for me in my everyday life? No.

Bill Cammack - Recent Visitors March 27 2008

What I value from my stats is when they indicate someone I have a REAL relationship to. I’m happy when I see a marker for England that represents Phil Campbell or Hawaii that represents Rox & Shane or Philly that represents Banannie or PurpleCar or Drew Olanoff. But this isn’t “fame”. It’s an indication that your friends have visited your site. I consider it “reach”, that friends of mine in Japan or France are watching my videos or reading my blog posts. But, no. I don’t post for fame, either.

I’m sure this seems strange to people as well, since I don’t carry business cards, but inform people that I’m top 20 on google for the world “Bill” 😀 (currently top 10, hehe).

This leaves ‘Star Power’. I would admit that I post to a degree for Star Power. Being that I’m an American, bred to dominate, genetically, being 3rd generation William C. Cammack and raised on “Baseball, Hot Dogs, Apple Pie & Chevrolet”, I get a kick out of doing things that other people can’t do, and, to a degree, “showing off”. Part of my attraction to the internet is that your work is always available and perpetually available. People are watching videos I posted to the net over a year ago. Meanwhile, I’ve done pieces for television that were watched ONE TIME and then never seen again (news). Even commercials that I’ve done that ran for years on network television came on “whenever”. There was no “on demand” way to view projects that I’ve worked on. Once Athina Krikeli showed me how crisp video was playing on the iPod, I knew what I had to do. I knew that my self-expression through video needed to be transferred to the internet and iTunes and however people might want to check it out.

At the same time that I’m enjoying myself by making and posting videos, I’m enhancing and advertising my own personal brand. However, that’s just the point that I wanted to make, but wasn’t able to at the time. I post because I want to. It’s something I do for *ME*, and not anybody else. Granted, I love and respect my “core fans” and I hope they enjoy the videos I create, but, ultimately, if I weren’t doing it for myself, I wouldn’t do it at all.

Fame, Popularity and Star Power are all external to one’s self. None of that’s interesting to me, personally. I know people who operate like that. They do shows BECAUSE they want people to watch them. They go out with chicks BECAUSE other guys think they’re attractive and consider them playboys because of it. I enjoy the fact that the internet allows people who would never have met you before to experience you asynchronously, at their own pace and to their own level of interest. The only area where it actually affects me is when I make new friends because of it and we get to share our lives together.

So, for me, Fame means nothing, Popularity is as common for me as walking or breathing, and Star Power gets me work or new clients, which has to do with money, but has nothing to do with what’s really valuable in this life.

Why do you post?

Living in the limelight
The universal dream
For those who wish to seem
Those who wish to be
Must put aside the alienation
Get on with the fascination
The real relation
The underlying theme


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  1. Sometimes I feel myself pulling back on posting and/or being all up in the social media world because I fear this false sense of fame. It’s creepy to me lol. I mean if I am gonna be famous, put me on some Mariah Carey level fame. This in between semi-famous internet fame is in some odd area that I don’t like. It’s slightly like high school popularity which is equally as creepy to me. I was never one who wanted to be the popular chick though. Sidelines, that’s where I felt most comfortable.

  2. @Liz: I hear that.

    I’m going to have to post again about popularity and fame IN GENERAL, because I hung out with my cousin yesterday, and she had an interesting perspective on what I posted, like my motivations for putting media on the web or having my own ‘fansite’.

    What you bring up here is part of the explanation that I didn’t give above. I’m not generating actual Fame through my internet shenanigans. The only people who know anything about me are the people interested in the video on the net space. I even went to PodCamp NYC, where people specifically interested in the space gathered together, and STILL, I wasn’t specifically recognized by anyone that I havent been introduced to before, but knows of my ‘work’.

    So, even though my cousin snapped on me for saying that I don’t care and then posting a picture showing that I get hits from literally all over the world hahaha (She had me laughing quite a bit yesterday :D), the fact of the matter is that most of those hits are people looking for information on a topic, not wondering what Bill Cammack is doing this week.

    Meanwhile, my friend Ant, someone I used to hang out with and play sports with when we were growing up, recognized me and shouted me out as we were passing each other in the street. I appreciated that, and worded him up on several things he could/should do as far as utilizing the internet to increase his reach and people’s awareness of what he does with filmmaking. That’s Popularity… On both of our parts. I want him to do well, now, based on the person he was back in the day when we used to hang out. I suppose Popularity relates to brand recognition, like Pepsi or Frisbee. One is a soda and the other is a flying disk. People have had excellent experiences with Frisbee brand flying disks, so the name Frisbee rings bells, and in a lot of cases, whatever the actual brand is, people call flying disks Frisbees.

    Those feelings of good will or personal recognition are way more important/useful TO ME than having people that don’t actually know me or have never met me or hung out with me say “Oh… There goes Bill Cammack”. So anyway, I’m going to have to re-post about fame…. ESPECIALLY now that I’m even AWARE that my cousin reads my blog! HAHAHAHA 😀

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