Essay About Jacob Cramer
Cramer awkwardly laughs as he explains to me what the job entailed and that he would “put on a show for everyone” as he called out the bingo numbers. While he is talking, I can envision him in the spotlight, making a room of gray-haired elders smile as widely as he does.
From establishing Love for Our Elders to creating Yale food TikToks that showcase his bright disposition in a rather somber era, Jacob possesses an extraordinary passion for entertaining and connecting with people. Indeed, this skill enables him to accumulate a large celebrity-like following across many different age groups, including the senior citizens around the globe affiliated with his organization and the nearly 90,000 predominately young individuals that follow his TikTok. Evidently, Jacob’s popularity enables him to be regarded as a celebrity. In his 1962 essay, “From Hero to Celebrity: The Human Pseudo-Event,” social historian Daniel Boorstin foregrounds an important characteristic celebrities, such as Jacob, must possess: their “well-knownness” (58). In this essay, Boorstin also includes the Oxford English Dictionary definition of celebrity: “the condition of being much talked about” (57). Jacob chuckles as he recalls a moment where a person privately commented, “Are you the guy from TikTok?” during a school event over Zoom for his non-profit. Additionally, Jacob reveals, “I feel like people have talked about me…and don’t acknowledge it to my face.”
Jacob Cramer can be specifically regarded as a “microcelebrity,” a term celebrity studies researcher Alice E. Marwick employs in her essay “Instafame: Luxury Selfies in the Attention Economy” to describe people that “may have a very small audience but [are] nonetheless able to inhabit the celebrity subject position” (139-140). Simply put, while Jacob has a relatively large audience, he does not have a fan base broad enough to be considered a household name. Nonetheless, Jacob’s several accolades and opportunities—such as holding the front cover of the national magazine, American Profile; giving two TED Talks between the ages of 14 and 15; and even being interviewed by The Boston Globe, CNN, MarketWatch, and National Geographic—bestow him with celebrity-like fame.
In her same essay, Marwick underscores that “[a]ttention-getting techniques employed by consumer brands have trickled down to individual users, who have increasingly, and occasionally improbably, used them to increase their online popularity” (138). Marwick emphasizes the marketing tactics that people employ in their efforts to become celebrities: something Jacob Cramer knows all about. Jacob’s self-learned knowledge of employing attractive designs for marketing his non-profit organization—which enabled him to reach over 5 million people after a campaign with Squarespace, whose representatives admired Jacob’s use of their platform for his branding—overflowed to TikTok, where he provides appealing images of himself and Yale food. Understanding the need for “having consistent branding,” Jacob adds that “no matter how beautiful your mission, you need to make sure your branding is on target and attractive.”
Unexpectedly, the interview takes a turn from discussing celebrity to Marketing 101, and Jacob, the psychology major, takes me behind the process of branding his non-profit, which contributed to his nationwide—and global—fame. He explains how his use of technology, predominately his website, magnified his organization’s visibility. This idea connects to how author Joshua Gamson characterizes a microcelebrity as an “Internet celebrity” that “is made possible by online publishing and social-networking sites” in his essay, “The Unwatched Life is Not Worth Living: The Elevation of the Ordinary in Celebrity Culture” (1067). Jacob notes the importance of using certain colors in the design of his non-profit website, specifically a “base, accent, and neutral,” giving the example of his non-profit’s use of purple, which represents the imagination. Moreover, Jacob further underscores how his employment of TikTok provided him with a different platform to increase his fame. Indeed, Jacob smiles with disbelief at the TikTok popularity he has amassed because he only created these videos as per a friend’s request. The filming of his college dinners, a trend among college students across the nation due to the advent of quarantine meals, helped him gain 20,000 followers within a day and led him to appear on WTNH, the New Haven local news channel. His newfound TikTok popularity has even bestowed upon him two brand partnerships, about one of which Jacob cannot contain his excitement. “Everyone knows this company!” Jacob exclaims.
Since he is already a celebrity occupying the charitable sector and the TikTok industry at such a young age, I had to ask what Jacob’s plans were for the future. Echoing Gamson’s assertion that “[w]hat the celebrity industry does require of its humans is that they live, whether glamorously or not, for the camera,” Jacob further illustrates his status as a celebrity by informing me that he “love[s] being on camera” and “loves attention” (1063). Consequently, Cramer relays, “I want to go into children’s entertainment, and I would love to be like Steve from Blue’s Clues, like that kind of vibe.” He notes that writing for this same industry would also be an enjoyable career. While musing on possible career choices, Jacob tells me that he “would also love to maybe have a social media podcast someday,” as he fiddles his hair. Jacob is following the right path to his dreams—he will add children’s book author to his repertoire with his first book coming out next year.
I conclude the interview by asking if he believes he is a celebrity; however, I already anticipate what he will say. Jacob lets out a deep chuckle, shakes his head, and humbly says no. But only so few can say that they have met Lady Gaga’s mom virtually because of the organization they founded. Still, this microcelebrity has time to become a higher-tiered celebrity in the future.