The Three Ages of Celebrity The Court & Temple ‘ Pre-Modern’ - Charisma/Power based The Star ‘ Modern’ - Charisma & Popularity Created by ‘The Culture Industry’ The Celebrity & Celetoid ‘ Post-Modern’ - Popularity & Authenticity/Genuineness Created by Media
The Political Economy approach
The Political Economy approach looks at celebrity as being driven by economics (money) and politics (power).
The approach explains celebrity as a creation of the mutual dependence of the media and the industries and professions (such as Film & Fashion) that rely on celebrity for their existence.
Celebrity, like 'branding' is a way of 'controlling risk' in the marketplace. Celebrity is linked to other trends in the media industry, such as:
The concentration of ownership and control in the hands of powerful individuals
The Increasing size and importance of transnational corporations.
Media content that reinforces social inequality.
Content streaming and multi-platform convergence
Celebrity (like branding) connects the cross-media reformatting of media content, with celebrity becoming a commodity itself. The public persona of the celebrity is a commercial asset that can be managed and developed, in order to be attached to a variety of products.
Celebrity is used to add commercial value and reduce risk.
Structuralism Structuralism sees celebrity as an expression of 'universal' structural rules embedded in human culture. Different forms of structuralism draw attention to different sets of rules. Structuralism: The Culture Industry The Culture Industry is one of these structuralist ideas, usually associated with the Marxist theorists of the Frankfurt School in Germany . The thesis holds that organized entertainment (including celebrity) is a form of deliberate social control. Similar ideas are shared by French theorists in the Marxist tradition; such as Debord, Morin & Lefebvre. “ Celebrities appear to enable audiences to gain as sense of release.... However because of the generalized conditions of alienation ...under capitalism, this release can never assume anything other than an estranged and transient form” (Chris Rojek) Celebrity is used to justify and conceal class inequalities & conflict.
Structuralism: Governmentality Governmentality is a structuralist theory associated with Michel Foucault. Whilst the Culture Industry hypothesis sees the media and celebrity as a way that an Elite Minority can dominate and mislead 'the Masses', Foucault looked at the way that individuals voluntarily and productively define their personal identity in terms of the wider collective order, which is expressed through social 'discourses' such as those based around celebrity. Celebrity as a discourse enhances the social value of individuality and personality. “ Through these means, order and compliance are reproduced, for example, the pre-eminence enjoyed by sports celebrities, such as...Tiger Woods, Michael Owen and David Beckham, underlines the connection between self-discipline, training and material success as 'examples to us all”.”(Chris Rojek) Celebrity is used to encourage people to ‘invest’ in society and to ‘behave themselves’.
Role Models- David Gauntlett ‘ Wholesome’ Role Model ‘ Family’ Role Model ‘ Straightforward Success’ Role Model ‘ Triumph over Adversity’ Role Model ‘ Challenging Stereotypes’ Role Model ‘ Outsider’ Role Model
Post Structuralism Even more than the Foucauldian model, Post-structuralism sees celebrity as a cultural construction, which is itself a field of production (celebrities are ‘made’ by the culture industries), representation (celebrities are used to represent social reality) and consumption (celebrities are ’used’ by audiences for their own purposes.) The actual ‘celebrity bodies’ are merely raw material for this process. In our society we use celebrities to make sense of our world and to construct our sense of personal identity. “ Stars articulate what it is to be a human being in a contemporary society: that is they express the particular notion we hold of the person, of the individual.” Richard Dyer (1986) Celebrity is used to construct role models and personality types.
Star/Individual identification+ Context specific Diffuse Self-Identification Projection Emotional affinity Simple Imitation Star/Audience Relationship (Andrew Tudor/ Richard Dyer)
The Organizational Approach The organizational approach is more empiricist and less ideological than the structuralist and post-structuralist models. Celebrity is seen as being created and maintained by a number of different institutions and groups for their own (different) purposes. Groups who profit from celebrity include: Image Makers (Public Relations, Representation, Coaching, Appearance) The Entertainment Industry (Film, Fashion, Music, TV, Radio) The News & Entertainment Media (Newspapers, Magazines) Ancillary Industries (Law, Finance, Tourism, Hospitality) Celebrity is used in the everyday running of groups and institutions .
Charisma Questions How does her ‘Media Silence’ enhance her ‘enigmatic’ appeal? How does her much publicized ‘grungy’ side add or detract from her glamorous image? Political Economy Questions What does she do for the ‘Top Shop’ brand? How many more products can her name be associated with before losing her ‘cachet?’ Structuralist Questions What kind of message does her working class origin send to aspirational young women? Why do people like seeing celebrities ‘disgraced? Why do they ‘forgive’ them? Post-Structuralist Questions In what way does she help enforce a regime of dieting and grooming amongst women? Marina Warner has described her Top Shop role as ‘A kind of secular magic?” What do you understand by this? Organizational Questions Why is it worth the while of the ‘Paparazzi’ to ‘stalk’ her? Why did one company feel the need to ‘dump’ her? Kate Moss Questions
Celebrity as Democracy The emergence of celebrity as a public preoccupation is the result of three major interrelated historical processes. First, the democratization of society; second, the decline in organized religion; third, the commodification of everyday life.... the decline in Court society in the 17 th and 18 th centuries involved the transference of cultural capital to self-made men and women. As modern society developed, celebrities have filled the absence created by the decay in the popular belief in the divine right of kings and the death of God. Rojek(2001) Democratainment (John Hartley) John Hartley sees the criticism of celebrity culture as being based on outdated binaries of gender and class (Men's Media- Important- Women’s media – trivial) “ Such binaries reinforce a systematic bias against the popular, but they (also) reinforce other prejudices.” Hartley however sees 'Celebrity, as a form of 'DIY Citizenship' or 'Semiotic self-determination' the construction of (new) cultural identity through the operation of motivated media consumption. The Demotic Turn (Graeme Turner) Graeme Turner sees 'celebrification' as a generally positive process which raises social aspirations, whilst reducing deference and breaching the barriers of class and gender. “The opportunity of celebrity spreading beyond elites...and into the population in general.” “ Celebrity itself begins to mutate: from being an elite or magical condition to being an almost reasonable expectation from everyday life.” New forms of 'fame' allowed by new media and technologies such as Reality TV, Webcams and Social Networking sites make these expectations ever more achievable.
Celebrity as Cultural Decline Daniel Boorstin “ The celebrity is a person who is known for his well-knownness.” “ Fabricated on purpose to satisfy our exaggerated expectations of human greatness” “ A sign of celebrity is often that their name is worth more than their services.” “ Some are born great, some achieve greatness, and some hire public relations officers.” “ Celebrity-worship and hero-worship should not be confused. Yet we confuse them every day, and by doing so we come dangerously close to depriving ourselves of all real models. We lose sight of the men and women who do not simply seem great because they are famous but are famous because they are great. We come closer and closer to degrading all fame into notoriety.” “ Nothing is really real unless it happens on television.” "We must abandon the prevalent belief in the superior wisdom of the ignorant."
Consuming Celebrity: 5 Audience Types From Gamson 'Claims to fame’ Gamson's research identified 5 groups, each with a different address towards celebrity and celebrity texts . The Traditional Audience The traditional audience regarded the celebrity text as ' realistic' and celebrity stories as arising 'naturally' through the news media rather than being generated by promotion or publicity strategies. Example : “That poor Kate Moss, what a shame she takes drugs” Second Order Traditional Audience In this group the belief in the 'naturalness' of media texts was more qualified. The group however believes that there were some 'deserving celebrities' and they also that they have the ability to discern the authentic , talented celebrity. Example: “That Kate Moss is nothing special, now Jean Shrimpton- she was a real star.”
Postmodernist Audience T his audience read celebrity stories as more or less fictional and artificially created by the media and the publicity industries. This does not mean that they reject celebrity texts; rather they are interested in the t echniques of artifice in and of themselves. Example : “Amazing how a bit of well orchestrated scandal boosted her flagging career!” Game Player: Gossiper The Game Playing audience do not 'emotionally invest' in celebrity. Celebrity offers the 'gossips' a rich resource for interpersonal social exchange. Example: “Well of course she's not the only one who's doing it, did you know that...” Game Player: Detective The 'detective' audience uses celebrity as a 'giant discursive playground' in order to talk about any related issues. Example: “Well of course drug use is rife in the industry partly because of an obsession with weight loss, that's related to the pre-pubescent body shape that the fashion industry prefers because...”
Hypertrophic celebrity culture? For most of its history, the celebrity apparatus has had a vested interest in staying invisible . So long as it remained illegible to cultural analysis, it could claim to be simply a transparent medium for exhibiting star quality. The celebrity’s public profile could appear to be the well-earned result of talent and determination, or the seemingly magical crystallization of his or her personality . But recently, some of the mechanics of celebrity culture have gained their own prominence. This hypertrophic state produces new cultural mutations and opens new possibilities for critique...I contend that celebrity culture has changed the way it operates, reflexively revealing some of its mechanisms. The structure of the apparatus is becoming as much an object of fascination as the individuals it promotes . An organic structure becomes hypertrophic when it grows in such an exaggerated way that its function in the organism or ecosystem is affected... Jus t as postmodern architecture displays the ducts and pipes that make a building function , so hypertrophic celebrity foregrounds the mechanisms that manufacture celebrities. Mole, Tom. "Hypertrophic Celebrity." M/C Journal 7.5 (2004).
Jade Goody:Celetoid? Celetoid...any form of compressed, concentrated attributed celebrity...the accessories of cultures organized around mass communications and staged authenticity..” (Graeme Turner) “ Since Jade’s selling point is her entertaining ignorance, the publicists had some difficulty describing her, relying on the vague tautology “irrepressible and unstoppable”. Daniel Boorstin’s classic definition of the celebrity as someone who is “famous for being famous” does not begin to describe Jade. She is famous for having been made famous . She is the product of our new fascination with the mechanisms that make celebrity function.” “ Jade was initially the subject of vehement ridicule by the British press which…. exemplified the ways in which her rise to celebrity was entrenched within discourses of class . Her apparent intellectual ignorance, voice and overweight body were ‘marked negatively as working class’ (Biressi & Nunn, 2004,p. 50). While disapproval for this upward mobility is exemplified by criticisms of Jade’s celebrity, “
'The Province of the Cellulite Bottom’ One of the most important features of the modern celebrity is the ' ordinary/extraordinary paradox'. The audience seem to both want their celebrities to be socially distant aspirational role-models AND vulnerable,even humiliated 'ordinary lives.' Part of this representation of the celebrity can be linked to gender politics.In particular the apparent desire of male readers to see 'unobtainable' female celebrities 'humiliated' by nakedness and (apparent) 'obtainability'. Perhaps more interesting is the fascination that female audiences apparently hold for seeing the imperfections of the glamorous. Su Holmes explains this impulse with reference to the 'post-structuralist' work of Richard Dyer. The modern celebrity must show their vulnerability in order to be regarded as 'authentic'. This desire for authenticty, ironically perhaps, makes the reality TV star a 'better' candidate for fame than 'real' celebrities.
Celebrity Stories Nason & Nason ( Organisational Approach) Certain combinations of stories and character types can draw audiences into deep involvement with celebrities….most celebrity stories contain a mixture of six major elements: Drama: a beginning ,middle, and end revolving around some sort of conflict. Adversity: a roadblock that needs to be overcome, Crisis: sickness, drugs,divorce, an event that brings the adversity into focus. Mentors : trainers, advsers, parents, or agents who provide some form of guidance. Unrelenting talent: some skill that simply must be used or understood. A final reward or climax : public acclamation, a huge audience, charity work , or even a noble death.
Drama: a beginning ,middle, and end revolving around some sort of conflict. Adversity: a roadblock that needs to be overcome, Crisis: sickness, drugs,divorce, an event that brings the adversity into focus. Mentors : trainers, advsers, parents, or agents who provide some form of guidance. Unrelenting talent: some skill that simply must be used or understood. A final reward or climax :