Either a word or brief phrase describing the fixation on the part of ordinary people and the media on a small segment of society living an extravagant lifestyle.

Example sentences:

  • What's behind America's [obsession with the rich and famous]?

  • A left-wing blogger called out the New York Times for its [glorification of the .0001%] in its lifestyle columns.

Related questions:

These do not answer my question because I am interested in a word describing the way the media lavishes attention on the lifestyles of people who are wealthy but not otherwise newsworthy.

  • 1
    "Celebrity worship" doesn't quite get there, right? It doesn't speak to the vacuous exclusively wealth-based nature of their celebrity. Maybe something like: "the media's bootlicking fixation with the asinine antics of the underachieving hyper-rich" ...though that's probably not succinct enough!
    – tmgr
    Oct 3, 2017 at 7:09
  • I believe it is elitism. The phrase "elitist media" is used also.
    – ermanen
    Jul 4, 2022 at 17:23
  • An interesting aspect of this is why the rest of the world is star-struck by American celebrities and the British monarchy.
    – Xanne
    Dec 20, 2022 at 1:24

3 Answers 3


One psychological term is celebrity worship syndrome, according to Wikipedia "an obsessive addictive disorder in which a person becomes overly involved with the details of a celebrity's personal and professional life."

Other common terms for an extreme interest in celebrities include fandom and celebrity obsession - Collins dictionary defines "fandom"; Healthline article; book Celebrity and Entertainment Obsession by Michael S. Levy (Rowman & Littlefield, 2015). Fandom suggests obsession with a particular celebrity, but celebrity obsession is more general.

There are more informal terms; a BBC article uses the verbal noun stanning, defined as "to show strong appreciation towards a musician, Love Island star or even fictional character that you adore." This term comes from Eminem's song "Stan", about an obsessive fan.


Oligarchism suggests the meaning sought, but if you are open to hyphenated-compounding qualifying under single-word criteria, Oligarch-fixation probably comes closer.

However, you may disagree, given your mention of people who are wealthy but not otherwise newsworthy. Some would say the the existence, and arguably the disproportionate influence, of a billionaire class, is newsworthy in itself.

  • 1
    I think OP is talking about Kardashians-like people here, whom cannot be called an oligarchy, since they are not in power.
    – doubleOrt
    Sep 14, 2017 at 9:37

Starstruck / star-struck (adj.)

As an adjective, starstruck needs to be paired with a noun; however, I think it captures your meaning:

What's behind America's obsessively starstruck society?

A left-wing blogger called out the New York Times for its its starstruck lifestyle columns.

Fascinated by famous people, especially those connected with the entertainment industry; overwhelmed or greatly impressed by the presence of a celebrity. OED

Particularly taken with celebrities (such as movie stars) M-W

Often disapproving. Feeling great or too much respect for famous or important people, especially famous actors or performers. Cambridge

Society is simultaneously envious of and curious about anyone who gets rich and famous, even at one remove. Thus, being the proud albeit unemployed father of a tennis prodigy is not only legitimate but it's a ticket to minor celebrity. And within the closed society of tennis, starstruck functionaries, cynical agents, and even the conscientious damage-control specialists who really do have the best interest of the kids at heart treat tennis father with the deference due a pasha.
Peter Bodo; The Courts of Babylon (2011)

Given that we've become a society starstruck on itself, most of these self-important people are going to be quite disappointed in the long run. Journalist Chris Heath summarized the phenomenon perfectly: "I'm not sure that we aren't seeing the emergence of a society in which almost everyone who isn't famous considers themselves cruelly and unfairly unheard."
Eric Dezenhall; Glass Jaw (2014)

For reasons such as those related above, the rich and famous have credibility for us star-struck Americans, beyond any we should rationally attribute to them as a consequence of their success in whatever is the domain in which they've achieved their prominence as larger-than-life characters in America's consciousness. As Tevye put it, right or wrong, "When you're rich they think you really know." And the potential credibility that accrues to celebrities is by no means independent of their physical attractiveness.
Robert Pellegrini; Identities for Life and Death (2010)

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.