A team of researchers has found that, contrary to popular belief, the people who become truly famous, stay famous for decades, whatever field they are in.
For the study, researchers led by McGill University’s Eran Shor and Stony Brook University’s Arnout van de Rijt studied the names mentioned in English-language newspapers over a period of several decades.
They said that this is even true of entertainment, where it might appear that fame is likely to be most ephemeral.
For example, in a random sample of 100,000 names that appeared in the entertainment sections of more than 2,000 newspapers between 2004-2009, the 10 names that showed up most frequently were Jamie Foxx, Bill Murray, Natalie Portman, Tommy Lee Jones, Naomi Watts, Howard Hughes, Phil Spector, John Malkovich, Adrien Brody, and Steve Buscemi, all of whom have been celebrated for at least a decade and all are still much talked about.
“There is almost a consensus among scholars in the field of the sociology of fame, that most fame is ephemeral,” Shor, an assistant professor in McGill’s department of sociology, said.
“What we’ve shown here that is truly revolutionary is that the people who you and I would consider famous, even the Kim Kardashians of this world, stay famous for a long time. It doesn’t come and go,” he said.
Indeed, the annual turnover in the group of famous names is very low and 96% of those whose names were mentioned over 100 times in the newspapers in a given year were already in the news at least three years before.