Not that long ago, you needed special talents to be a showbiz celebrity.
Elvis. Sinatra. The Beatles. Madonna.
Youngsters didn’t get a look in. Unless you were Shirley Temple or Rin Tin Tin.
How times have changed. In our instant world of social media, nobodies have the chance to become somebodies. The era of the self-made celebrity.
Give an outrageous interview at a crime scene, and they’ll write a song about you. Shine in a bikini while hooking a sporting hero, and you’ll wind up with your own tv reality show.
Then there are those who don’t need any of that. Just a computer, and a smart-arse attitude.
A little while back, the girls introduced me to the latest YouTube sensation. Young blokes from Melbourne called The Janoskians. Odds are you’ve never heard of them. But they’re making a generation of kids laugh.
You won’t have seen them on tv. No songs on the radio. They don’t need to. Because they’ve created a juvenile empire online. A YouTube channel has more than 100-thousand subscribers. Their crazy antics have attracted 20-million hits. Yep, 20-million.
Kids can access their stuff at the kitchen table. On the bus. By the pool. At any time of the day or night.
They take the piss out of anything, and everything. They are stars for a generation of youngsters. Even though the rest of us wouldn’t know them from Adam.
They find humour in train carriages, by embarrassing unwary passengers. In lifts, performing makeshift collapses in front of shocked strangers. They’ll pinch some poor shopper’s hot chips in the local food court. Side-splitting stuff. Caught on camera.
It’s designed to shock the oldies. Make us shake our heads at the children of today. Which makes them heroes in the eyes of kids everywhere.
They’re the ultimate in cool. Even though they don’t actually do anything on stage or screen.
I saw their popularity first hand on the weekend. A special appearance, at one of Brisbane’s biggest shopping centres.
The girls pleaded with me to take them. The ultimate in autographs. It will be no surprise to learn that I had no idea what I was getting into.
We arrived an hour before the meet and greet began. To find a thousand fans jammed into the carpark.
My girls and a friend joined the giant queue, while issuing strict instructions that I should disappear. Nothing cool about having Dad in the line with you.
I moved to a spot they couldn’t see me, and got chatting with a security guard. He looked stressed. Protecting Obama at a dockside pub would have been an easier task than trying to contain this lot.
He told me that the first girls arrived at 2.30. In the morning. Without parents.
When the five lads eventually showed their pretty faces, the collective scream was ear-splitting. The organiser gave fans their instructions. Videos were fine, but no photos. Step up, get your autographs, and move on.
That’s right. There would be no singing, or dancing, or joke-telling. Just five kids sitting at a table, armed with thick black pens. Enjoy your thirty seconds.
My guess is that the final crowd totalled around 1500. Not one of them complained. They stood, and shuffled forward. And screamed, if one of the young stars happened to throw a look their way.
I saw young girls crying as they left the stage. Actual sobbing. Clutching a poster with child-like scribble.
After exactly three and a half hours, The Teenager and Daughter Two had their autographs. And videos. Within minutes, they were on Facebook, telling friends about their intimate brush with some real-life celebrities.
So did every other girl there. An therein lies the secret of The Janoskians. Every online post is a plug. Every shared video makes them a little more popular. Next time they visit, the crowd will be twice the size.
It turns out that these young clowns are actually smarter than we think. Just don’t let the fans know. It’s so much easier to be cool when you’re playing the fool.