While you might know the name George Costanza, you might not know that he’s famous for being the protagonist of one of the most popular TV sitcoms of all time, Seinfeld. But if you’re a fan of the sitcom, you might know the name Robert Pattinson. He was the cute and sensitive young man who played the part of Edward Cullen in the highly successful and romantic vampire saga, Twilight. And before you know it, these two guys are going to pop up in the most unexpected places online, whether it’s a meme, a joke, or a fan art piece. So let’s take a look at how the internet changed our perception of fame and romance and whether or not these celebrity couples will ever actually get together.
The Rise In Popularity Of Celebrities Online
It’s been well established that the internet changed all of our lives, and not just because of the countless memes, YouTube videos, and Twitter feeds we get bombarded with daily. The internet also altered the way we perceive celebrities and the way we behave towards them. In the past, we would see a few famous faces on TV or in magazines, and then move on to something else. Nowadays, we’re constantly reminded of our celebrity crushes, everyday embarrassments, and crazy fan adventures via social media.
The “Seinfeld” Effect
Let’s talk about perhaps the most iconic and recognizable of all the Costanza and Cullen imitations on the internet. If you’ve ever seen the show, you’ll most likely know the part where they’re talking about the “Seinfeld” effect. That’s when something happens in one context that changes the meaning in another. It was originally used in reference to George Costanza’s split-screen display while playing catch-up on his laptop. But since then, it’s been used to describe all kinds of different phenomena. Here’s how the term gained notoriety:
When Seinfeld first aired on NBC in 1989, it was considered a huge success. The show was about nothing, and it was funny primarily because of its awkward and exaggerated conversations. This was a breath of fresh air for people who grew up in the 80s, and it quickly became a cultural phenomenon, with articles featuring the phrase “Seinfeld effect” appearing in major publications across the country. The effect even reached Asia, with an Asian-American woman, Linda Lee, using the expression when referring to the popularity of the show in Singapore.
The “Twilight” Effect
Another internet success story that gained a lot of popularity due to the phenomenon known as the “Twilight effect” is the Robert Pattinson film, Twilight. The movie was released in 2009, and has since become a massive worldwide hit, earning more than $400 million and counting. For those who have not yet witnessed this beautiful piece of cinema, let’s quickly review the main events that led up to its creation.
The Twilight saga began back in 2006, with the publication of Stephenie Meyer’s wildly successful and bestselling novel, Twilight. The book was an immediate critical and commercial success, and spent 12 weeks on the New York Times bestseller list. Naturally, with such overwhelming popularity came an explosion of interest in the story and its characters. While the book was initially released in paperback, it quickly became a bestseller in hardcover as well, and has since gone on to sell more than 15 million copies worldwide. As you might imagine, Twilight has sparked even more interest and devotion in fans than Seinfeld, and this has resulted in some very creative, very funny, and rather quirky fan works.
The Fans Behind The Scenes
While the above examples are funny in isolation, it’s only the tip of the iceberg when it comes to the funny stuff that fans have done in reference to these iconic celebrity couples. Let’s look at some of the most interesting fan works featuring these two famous men from the internet’s point of view. We’ll start by looking at some of the earliest examples, and then we’ll move on to more modern examples that continue the trend of using these popular culture icons in all kinds of funny situations.
1969: The Year of the Self-Award
In the 1960s, people weren’t quite sure how to react to celebrities, especially since many of them were trying to shake off their celebrity. The best example of this came in 1969, when a banner appeared on the cover of Entertainment Weekly that read, “The Year of the Self-Award,” above the faces of several prominent movie stars. It was an attempt by these celebrities to show that they could do more than just appear in movies and on television shows — they could act, direct, and produce films as well.
1980s: The Golden Age Of Imitation
One of the most interesting things about the Seinfeld and Twilight effects is that they represent how quickly and dramatically the tide turned in favor of celebrities online in the late 20th century. Before the internet gave us constant access to news, entertainment, and social media, celebrities were seen as more glamorous and appealing than they are today. Even now, it’s easy for celebrities to go unnoticed and unappreciated by the vast majority of the population, which is why popular culture is often considered to be a form of escapism.
The above memes are just a small part of what the internet has given us, and it’s not just a nostalgia trip. These viral images, videos, and jokes point to a fundamental shift that has occurred since the dawn of social media. While celebrities could go unnoticed and unscrutinised before 1989, today, with nearly all of us constantly glued to our phones, it’s practically impossible for them to go unappreciated.
More Modern Examples
If 1969 is the year of the self-award, then the 80s saw the emergence of celebrity as we know it today. In the film Heather, director/star/writer Lisa Cholodenko explores the way the media has evolved since its inception, showing how it has changed both our perceptions of celebrities and romance. Here’s a short clip featuring Lisa Cholodenko and screenwriter Charlie Wickersham discussing their new film, Heather.
Do you remember when Taylor Swift released her music video for “Bad Blood” in 2012? If not, don’t feel bad — it was a big deal at the time, but now we all know the song and video exist in a social media world where fan art and GIFs reign supreme.
One of the most interesting things about these two phenomena is that even today, we still see iconic celebrities in film, television, and print media, but the internet has proven that they are no longer confined to those spheres. No longer do we need to wait for celebrities to come to us; we can go to them. With the click of a button, we can ensure that our desires for fame, romance, and entertainment are quickly fulfilled through digital platforms that serve as miniature movie sets, allowing us to live out our most secret dreams and fantasies.
It’s often said that the line between celebrity and fan can become blurred, and this is certainly true. While we might know who Taylor Swift is and may have seen her on TV or in the movies, it’s safe to say that most of us don’t know Thomas Wolfe well, yet we’ve likely seen and heard his work. While celebrities can still go unnoticed by the general public, they can no longer go unappreciated by those who know and love them. This is especially apparent in today’s online world where everyone is aware of and appreciative of celebrity, whether they’re a famous person themselves or are just a big fan.