From The New York Times:
What are movie stars for? Yes, I know, it’s an odd, possibly irrelevant question. The whole point of movie stars is that they just are. It might be more appropriate to wonder whether, in a world of generalized, instantly manufactured celebrity, movie stars are still necessary. The alloy of glamour and artistry that great screen actors embody may not survive the currency crisis precipitated by reality television and the Internet. At least for the moment, however, movie stars still serve as the gold standard of modern fame. Indeed, the rise of cheap, interchangeable, mass-produced celebrity may have endowed those whose primary medium is the big screen with a bit of added gravity, renewing their license to be taken (or to take themselves) seriously. Their fame remains a unique form of cultural capital, a resource that can sometimes be converted into influence or power.
Why should we care what these people – whose faces lure us into buying magazines, whose clothes and hairstyles we imitate, whose private lives we take to be our business – have to say about AIDS in Africa or the war in Iraq? How dare they presume to tell us how we should vote?