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The Microfame Game


Step No. 7: Create controversy.

As the perfect celebrity parasite, Perez Hilton thrives on his notoreity.  

Andy Warhol once described himself as the type of person "who'd like to sit home and watch every party that I'm invited to on a monitor in my bedroom." Just imagine what he would have done with today's two-way television, the blog. It would probably look a little like Perez Hilton’s.

Hilton has built a small media empire—that now comprises a blog, a VH1 show, a record-label imprint, a musical, and a syndicated radio show—by becoming a synonym for controversy. Although it's a crowded field, his most notorious stunt was probably declaring the death of Fidel Castro—very prematurely. He has been sued for incidents involving Britney Spears (song leaks), Samantha Ronson (false reporting), Colin Farrell (sex tape), Jennifer Aniston (topless photos), and the paparazzi agency X17 (stealing photos).

X17 may be the most interesting, because it is, like Perez, a parasite to celebrity culture. When pressed about his own fame, Perez has asserted that he's not a real celebrity, instead positioning himself as a Hollywood outsider. It seems a necessary move, because to persist as the Prince of Microfame, he needs to subjugate himself before the truly famous.

There are myriad ways to stoke the coals of controversy. The personal dramas of the microfamous—like Emily Gould, the former Gawker editor best known for oversharing her romantic exploits and then writing about the oversharing experience for The New York Times Magazine—can be deployed in a similar manner to that of the truly famous.


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