Dead, naked and famous – what the ‘most searched for celebrities’ list says about us | Stuart Heritage

Exposed body parts, female pop stars and dead people – the Microsoft search engine Bing has produced a disturbing reflection of what people are curious about

Truly, this is the most wonderful time of the year. It’s the time when all the world can come together as one, united in a brief moment of scorching fury directed exclusively at the wingnut who has already put their Christmas tree up, and then Instragrammed it, and then – because writing “Please hate me forever” would be far too obvious – actually used the hashtag #HadToBeDone.

More relevantly, it’s also the time when the world reflects on everything that happened this year, before vomiting it back up into some kind of dreadful end-of-year list. Three weeks from now we’ll be drowning in these lists. Best film of the year. Best album of the year. Best fashion trend of the year. Best local government congestion-easing initiative of the year. Best workforce sector to have been made redundant by the robots of the year. That sort of thing.

Sadly, the deluge has already begun. The Microsoft search engine, Bing, for example, has just released its list of the 10 most searched-for celebrities of 2014. Now, you could argue that this sort of thing is simply distracting chuff; nothing more than a microcosm of everything that’s wrong with the world.

But you’d be mistaken. If you’re an up-and-coming celebrity with an eye on world domination, this list actually functions as a vitally useful blueprint for your future success.

However, before I go into any sort of detail, it’s worth bearing in mind that the list isn’t definitive by any means, because the year isn’t actually over yet. There’s still a full 12th of it left. For all anyone knows, Benedict Cumberbatch might wander into his local branch of Pets At Home tomorrow and accidentally set his trousers on fire next to some puppies. That, I suspect, would probably be enough to vault him into the top five. Especially if Harry Styles was there with a fire extinguisher.

But, still, any would-be A-lister who reads this list can take it as a snapshot of public taste as it currently stands. The top 10 contains everything anyone needs to know about celebrity, maybe even humanity itself, in the year 2014. If you really want to cater for every single one of the public’s current prevailing trends, you need to be at least one of these four things.

1) Naked

Almost half of this year’s top 10 celebrities have spent a portion of the year naked. Some have been naked publicly, such as Kim Kardashian and Miley Cyrus. Others – Ariana Grande and Jennifer Lawrence – have simply had their private moments of secret nudity stolen by creepy hackers. Since Jennifer Lawrence is the third most-searched-for celebrity of the year, you could argue that the best way to inspire online searches would actually be to work hard achieving a career as the funny and talented star of several critically and commercially successful films, who is forced to endure a mortifying breach of privacy as a direct result of this success. But that sounds like far too much of a faff. It’s probably easier just to get your bits out on the internet.

2) A popular female singer

Once again, four entries in the top 10 are all female pop singers – Miley Cyrus, Ariana Grande, Katy Perry and Beyoncé. You’ll notice that half of this category also appeared in the previous category, but don’t kid yourself thinking that they’re on the list because people just wanted to see pictures of them naked. For example, I’d wager that at least three-quarters of the Beyoncé searches came from people who were desperate to read yet another knee-jerk broadsheet thinkpiece about why she definitely is or definitely isn’t a feminist. Similarly, there’s nothing to suggest that all of Ariana Grande’s searches came from people so embarrassingly old and out-of-touch that they had to type “Who is Ariana Grande?” into a search bar, as I had to about 30 seconds ago.

3) Dead

Peaches Geldof topped the list this year, closely followed by Robin Williams. Paul Walker is number four. There’s nothing new about dead celebrities being popular. However, please don’t actually attempt to emulate anybody in this category. This is partly because they all passed before their time in genuinely tragic circumstances, but it’s mainly because you need to be around next December to see if the three existing Bing users have ever typed your name on to the internet. That’s what all of this is about, remember?

4) Justin Bieber

Bieber is the only member of the top 10 who isn’t dead or a woman. Again, any would-be celebrities reading this are strongly advised not to become Justin Bieber themselves, because there’s already one Justin Bieber in the world and that’s already enough to feel like a catastrophic pandemic of devastating proportions.

That’s all you need to know about life in 2014 – that, just like every other year, people are mostly curious about female pop singers, exposed body parts and dead people. As such, it’s clear that humanity is basically a seething mass of would-be serial murderers and I’m going to spend the rest of my life in the sealed-tight panic room that used to be my airing cupboard. Thanks, Bing!


Stuart Heritage

The GuardianTramp

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