Rod Blagojevich, the former Illinois governor under federal indictment for corruption and scheduled to go on trial next June for allegedly conspiring to sell now-President Barack Obama's U.S. Senate seat, is slated for an appearance on Donald Trump's "Celebrity Apprentice" reality TV show.
Thus do we define "celebrity" in the YouTube age, when all routes to recognition are perceived — by some, at least — as equal.
Maybe there's nothing really new or especially alarming about that. After all, the familiar description of people who are "famous for being famous" has been part of the culture for so long that nobody really seems to know who coined the phrase. Certainly there's nothing new about people whose recognition factor is out of all proportion to any discernible talent or contribution to society.
Maybe the difference, if there is one, is that for an apparently increasing number of people, the distinction between fame and notoriety — or, in many cases, mere conspicuousness — no longer exists. Or, if it does still exist, it no longer matters.
It is in that cultural context that Rod Blagojevich is a "celebrity" and a formerly obscure Colorado man who allegedly fabricated the "balloon boy" hoax, using his own son in a desperate attempt to become a reality TV star, is now a headline name.
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