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Web bloggers compete with stars for public’s attention December 31, 2006

Posted by grhomeboy in Blogging.
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Hey, you! You turned the Web into the pop-culture phenomenon of 2006, whether you were acquiring hundreds of pals on MySpace or uploading videos of yourself lip-syncing to Gnarls Barkley on YouTube.

Time magazine made you the person of the year, because you’re a star, baby. Or at least that’s what the old media says. They’re desperate to stay in your good graces because you’re the power broker now.

Here’s the reality check. Becoming a Web sensation is possible, but not easy. With blogs springing up by the second, all the good gimmicks seem taken. How come you — or we — didn’t think of mixing Mentos and Diet Coke and filming the explosion?

As usual, celebrities had no trouble grabbing attention: among them, hate-spewing actors (Mel Gibson and Michael Richards), babies with famous parents (Suri and Shiloh), and starlets whose turmoils played out like prime-time soaps (a.k.a. Desperate Ex-Wife Britney).

The pop-culture cafe continues to save the best tables for gossip-worthy stars. Yet two entertainers who share very little of their personal lives were standouts, using humor as their light saber of truth.

Stephen Colbert of “The Colbert Report” delivered a scathingly hilarious send-up at the White House Correspondents Dinner of government leaders and the media types who cozy up to them. It didn’t go over well with the movers and shakers, but clips of his monologue found an enthusiastic audience on the Web.

Another brilliantly funny guy, Sacha Baron Cohen of “Borat,” wore a mustache and a cheesy suit and revealed that some Americans still harbor the same backward prejudices as a gangly guy from Kazakhstan.

Several people who appeared in “Borat” complained they were tricked into being filmed, but audiences were laughing too hard to care. As Joel Stein wrote in a Time story, notions of privacy have changed in the wired world: “If you’re under 35, you realize that everything is public now.”

Take that as a friendly warning for the year ahead. As you watch your life and everyone else’s unfold on the Web, remember to watch out for each other a little bit, too.

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