The Powerless Elite

In Francesco Alberoni’s The Powerless Elite, he mainly focuses on the topic of the elite class and the phenomenon that is star culture. Not the celestial bodies, but the idea of celebrity and society’s obsession with it. Alberoni’s argument is that in any society, there is a specific group of people that are held to a higher standard, where the people below them look up and idolize them. He argues that is a specific function of society and that this is just the way the world works, and goes on to mention Max Weber, and Weber’s idea of “charismatic domination”, this idea that these stars and these people in power, as this can also apply to politicians, have something about them, there is some X-Factor that draws people to them and makes people admire and want to be them. Alberoni seems to use Weber to argue that this is just the way society works. Alberoni’s argument is “we can say that stars are, like the power elite, an object of reference for the community, but of a different kind.” In his eyes when people look for a definition of what success looks like, and what it means to be powerful, they look to stars and celebrities and say “that’s what it must be like, that is what I want to be.”  He mentions that it is not just celebrities that are treated this way, as politicians, especially in America, are viewed in the same light, though it didn’t always used to be this way. Now, according to Alberoni, “politicians are evaluated with activities strictly or specifically political.” People are now voting for reasons that have nothing to do with politics. The lives of the politicians and their families are now put under the microscope. Every activity that they participate in, every vacation they take is looked at in attempt by people to find things that are relatable. They look at a politician and everything they do and say “I’m going to vote for them, they’re just like me.” Or they won’t vote for them because they are not “down to earth enough.”                            In the eyes of Alberoni, stardom is the invention of a publicity organization that is extremely necessary to the entertainment industry. The media creates these stars that the fans can relate to and admire so that they come out to the movies and the studios make money. That is also why, Alberoni claims that the lives of these stars are staged, and controlled. People need to have a certain image of these celebrities, specifically a positive one, that keeps us coming to the movies, listening to music, or watching T.V., because people want to see their favorite people. That is why scandals are so deadly in the eyes of the entertainment industry as these scandals can ruin a franchise. If an actor or musician does something that they aren’t supposed to or contradict the image that they have already, the people will stop watching, and people lose money. According to Alberoni, the star phenomena, is what it says, a phenomena. There is no explanation for it, but it’s there. It was there seemingly from the beginning of time, and will be there until the end of time


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