question of the week: Why are celebrities influential?

Oprah Winfrey Elmo

Forbes’ new list for 2013 of most influential celebrities mystifies me. I can understand why, say, Oprah (No 1) is considered influential because she’s “compassionation,” and why Bono (No 8) is influential because of his activism. But what the heck does it mean that pseudoscience-loving TV doctor Mehmet Oz (No 6) and giver of questionable financial advice Suze Orman (No 9) are influential for their “good energy”? (Presumably the good energy makes their nonsense go down easier?) What does it mean that Martin Scorsese (No 3) is influential because he’s “dynamic,” and Ron Howard (No 4) is influential because he’s “down to earth”?

Not that Scorsese was influential enough for Forbes to spell his name correctly:

Martin Scorsese Forbes
And then there’s the larger question of why celebs are influential at all. It’s one thing to be doing things that have real impacts on people — as could be said about Oprah and Bono — but why are celebrity endorsements of anything beyond their areas of expertise a thing? People selling us stuff, from soda to presidential candidates, trot out famous faces in an attempt to convince us to buy… and it often works! Why? Do we have some sense of famous people as all-around authorities? Is it a subconscious desire to be like the people we admire? What do you think?

Why are celebrities influential? Are there any celebs that are personally influential with you?

(If you have a suggestion for a QOTW, feel free to email me.)

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