From Kim Kardashian to Dr. Oz: The Future Relevance of Popular Culture to Our Health and Health Policy

Volume 47, No 2
Timothy Caulfield

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Rightly or not, celebrities are playing an increasingly large role in how we think and talk about our health. The goals of this paper are modest: 1) to provide examples of the ways in which celebrity culture is having an impact; and 2) to speculate why this influence is likely to increase in the future. It is not meant to be a comprehensive review and I fully recognize that the relationship between popular representations and public perceptions is complex. Celebrity culture is just one part of a complicated and dynamic process related to how people see, select, interpret, and use health information. That said, in this paper I argue that it is an increasingly important part of the health equation, one that is often overlooked. Perhaps it is easy to disregard celebrity culture because it is often seen as frivolous and/or only relevant to those foolish enough to follow celebrity advice. Here, I argue that both of these presumptions are wrong. I hope to underscore the fact that celebrity culture does matter and, in the future, it seems likely that it will matter more and more.

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