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Tuesday, April 16, 2024
The Observer

Fame in the name: How to measure true fame

There are a lot of ways to gain fame, but how do you know when you’ve really made it? For some, it’s when strangers begin to recognize them on the street. For others, it's based on Instagram followers or magazine covers. Or maybe it’s when a musician can singlehandedly boost the economy with their tour. But there is one metric of fame I admire above all others: when a celebrity becomes more famous than the noun they share their name with. 

My understanding of this criterion for fame began in fourth grade when I was making a science presentation about the states of water. I needed a picture of water in its solid form, so I typed “ice cube” into Google, but the images that popped up were not of frozen water in the cubical form. They weren’t of water at all. Instead, they were of American rapper, producer and actor O'Shea Jackson Sr., better known as Ice Cube. As a fourth grader straight outta Ohio, I wasn’t big into the 90s rap scene, and I didn’t know who this man was or why he was posing as a cube of ice. At first, I was mildly annoyed at Ice Cube since I had to scroll past 54 pictures of him until I found one of an actual ice cube, but since then, I have developed the utmost respect for Ice Cube. How can you not? Water sustains life on earth, yet Google decided that this man is more important than its frozen version. This, I quickly decided, was true fame. 

This method of measuring fame only works for some celebrities since the majority do not share their names with a noun. But for those who do, it can be a useful measure of how high and mighty they really are. Searching “Lady” will produce the many poker faces of Lady Gaga, illustrating her true dominance. Pictures of the rapper Future flood the screen when you search the word, making him more famous than time itself. Politics aside, President George W. Bush and George H. W. Bush deserve our utmost respect for becoming more prominent than shrubs with moderately long limbs — a feat neither President Wilson nor Ford could achieve, both remaining less popular than sporting goods and F-150s respectively. Even when not pluralized, the word “Beatle” will present images of the great English rock band. Meanwhile, Brittany Spears is only more popular than the plural of “spear,” meaning ancient warriors can quickly find images of their favorite weapon as long as they're okay with only viewing one at a time. 

On the other hand, some celebrities have a long way to go. In an episode of James Cordon’s Carpool Karaoke, Chris Martin admitted, “If you say ‘the cold,’ no one is thinking Coldplay, so we’ve got a ways to go.” To confirm this statement, I typed “cold” into my search bar and watched as Google generated thousands of images, none of them being a group of four average-looking white dudes. Instead, I scrolled through images of snow, sick people and, coincidentally, the same image of an ice cube I found 54 pictures into my search for an image of solid water. While Coldplay may have played the Super Bowl and won seven Grammys, they still have a long way to go before they're truly famous. 

But Coldplay isn’t alone. The direction opposite of east which many actual gold diggers in the U.S. headed in during the 1840s still remains more prominent than Kanye West himself, whose image only appears after 51 photos of compasses and canyons. Additionally, the planet Elon Musk is trying to colonize is still more popular than American singer-songwriter Bruno Mars, and the color black still has the upper hand over Kodak Black and Jack Black. However, Kodak Black’s picture popped up after only 14 images while it took Jack Black 121 images to make an appearance. Other notable mentions of celebrities who, as it turns out, aren’t that famous include Emma Stone, Tiger Woods, Maroon 5 and Shirley Temple. 

Truth be told, this is not actually a very efficient method for measuring fame. But even if this metric doesn’t replace the Q score as the generally accepted measure of fame, it still provided me with an hour of entertainment from googling celebrities' names. All in all, I still have a strong respect for celebrities who have become “more famous” than the nouns they share their names with, and I hope someday Chris Martin and the rest of Coldplay can earn my respect too. 

Allison Abplanalp is a Sophomore Finance and Accounting major. If she could change one thing about the English language, she would make "a lot" one word. Her least favorite month is March because every year she is devastated when she fails to pick the perfect March Madness bracket.

The views expressed in this column are those of the author and not necessarily those of The Observer.