1. A2 Media Studies
G324: Advanced Production Portfolio
2. Who Was Richard Dyer?
• Richard W. Dyer (born 1945) is an English
academic specialising in cinema. As of 2006 he
is Professor of Film Studies at King's College
3. Who Was Richard Dyer?
• Stars (1979) was Dyer's first full-length book. In it
he developed the idea that the viewers'
perception of a film is heavily influenced by the
perception of its stars, and that publicity
materials and reviews determine the way that
audiences experience the film.
• With this thesis in mind, Dyer analysed critics'
writing, magazines, and advertising and the films
themselves, to explore the significance of
4. Star Theory
• The terms "pop performer" and
"pop star" have become
• The study of stars as media
texts/components of media texts
demands that the distinction be
made between those who are
simply known for performing pop
music and those who are known
for being pop stars, who have an
identity or persona which is not
restricted solely to their
5. Star Theory
• One of the reasons so many
pop performers are described
as pop stars is that they are
quickly promoted to this status
by their management.
• This is easily done courtesy of
a few judiciously placed
stories, a famous
premieres/parties and a
feature in HEAT magazine.
6. Star Theory
• HOWEVER, a true pop star does have a lasting
significance, and has "brand awareness" amongst a
wider market over a period of time.
• Many of the so-called pop stars populating the top
forty currently have not made a sufficient
sociological or cultural impact to be classified as
true stars if we return to Richard Dyers’ definition.
7. Stars as Constructions
• Stars are constructed, artificial images,
even if they are represented as being
"real people", experiencing real
• It helps if their image contains a USP —
they can be copied and/or parodied
because of it. Their representation may
be metonymic — Madonna's conical
bra in the early 1990s, Bono's 'Fly'
sunglasses, Justin Bieber's haircut.
8. • “A star is an image not a real person that is
constructed (as any other aspect of fiction is)
out of a range of materials (eg advertising,
magazines etc as well as films [music]).”
9. Star Theory
• Yet that construction process is neither automatic nor
fully understood. Record companies think they know
about it — but look at the number of failures on their
• TV programmes such as The X Factor show us the
supposed construction process, how an ordinary
person is groomed, styled and coached into fulfilling a
set of record company and market expectations.
• This is not true stardom, which must happen through a
combination of factors. None of them labelled 'X'.
10. X Factor Failures
• Steve Brookstein
• Matt Cardle
11. Star Theory
• “[Cowell is a] dreadful piece of crap who drags the music
business down whenever he rears his ugly head... Pop stars
today have no longevity. Rock 'n' roll is not about singing
perfect notes or being a showbiz personality. It's about the
anger and the angst. I hate what Pop Idol has done to the
business.” — Roger Daltrey [of The Who],
• As a record buying public, we prefer to believe in stars who
are their own and our constructions rather than a
transparent offering designed explicitly to appeal to our
blander tastebuds served up by a record company
interested only in our wallets.
12. Stars As Constructions
• Constructed, artificial images -
advertising, magazines, films and music. Good if
they have a Unique Selling Point which makes
• Record companies groom starts (artificial
constructions) - we have more respect for them if
they groom themselves
• We want to believe that stars convey their real
emotions to us
13. Industry & Audience
• Stars are manufactured by the music
industry to serve a purpose — to make
money out of audiences, who respond
to various elements of a star persona
by buying records and becoming fans.
Stars are the cogs around which a
plethora of record company gears find
• Record companies nurture and shape
their stars — as the TV talent show
processes have shown us. They tend to
manufacture what they think
audiences want, hence the
'photocopied' nature of many boy
bands, teen bands
14. Industry & Audience
• However, there are whole markets
out there who are not convinced by
the hype and don't want to spend
their money on blandness.
• The record industry also has a duty to
provide bands/artists who are
perceived as 'real' (for 'real, maybe
read 'ugly' or unpolished) for these
audiences. Stars can also be created
by this route.
• Pop stars, whatever their nature, are
quite clearly the product of their
record company — and they must be
15. Industry & Audience
• Historically, the industry has provided
us with a range of commodities all
with different appeal.
• One way to achieve this is by
producing new stars of different types
playing constantly mutating genres of
music - there's always something and
someone fresh to choose from
(important for the younger audience).
• Another way is to produce a star with
long-lasting appeal, who, once their
brand is established, can cater to a fan
audience for decades (in the way U2
or the Rolling Stones have done).
16. Industry & Audience
• Unfortunately, these methods
are oppositional. The 'conveyor
belt' approach to new stars
means that talent isn't
developed, and a star's value
may be very short-lived.
• A star may only be significant or
relevant for two years, or two
albums. Too much focus on
'golden oldies' means that
younger fans can't identify with
stars, whom they see as
belonging to their parents'
17. Industry & Audience Summary
• Stars - manufactured to make money from
audience for record labels.
• "X Factor" - 'photocopied stars' who
repeatedly churn out what they think we
• Whole markets of audience who want
– record labels have to cater to these different
– Mirror branding - e.g. Rage Against The
Machine & Joe McElderry - both part of the
same record company (Sony Music)
18. Ideology and Culture
• Many stars have the
ability to influence their
fans decisions and
• This has led to a “Cult of
Celebrity” in which the
lives of the stars
themsleves and NOT
their work is under
19. Ideology & Culture
• Stars - cultural values and attitudes - audiences
may share these beliefs - e.g. The Jonas Brothers -
wearing of purity rings
• A star may initiate a fashion
trend/hairstyle/clothing/copied by audience - e.g.
Jennifer Aniston - "The Rachel" in the 1990s
• Forms of media dedicated to celebrity gossip
where fans can catch up with the lives of
20. Character & Personality
• A star begins as a "real"
human, possessing gender &
race characteristics, and
existing against a socio-historic
• The star transformation
process turns them into a
construct, but the construct
has a foundation in the real.
We tend to read them as not-
entirely-fictional, as being are
very much of their time and
culture, the product of a
21. Character & Personality
• Stars provide audiences with a focus for ideas
of 'what people are supposed to be like' (eg
for women, thin/beautiful) - they may support
hegemony by conforming to it (thin/beautiful)
or providing difference (fat/still lovable).
22. Character & Personality
• Other stars construct
“characters” into which they
create an identity to appeal
to their target market
• These characters may be
outlandish and outspoken
and can become an ‘icon’ to
their fans who believe in
their message or identify
with the character in one
way or another.
23. Music Stars
• Pop stars can be seen as actors - images are
constantly changed to match ideologies of the
time - getting publicity (whether negative or
positive) enables them to remain in the
• Fandom is a term used to discuss a subculture
of people who share a common interest in a
• Music fans can often have an emotional
response to their chosen stars – they might
copy their look or go even further!
Channel 4 - Crazy About One Direction
25. Task 1
• Summarise Dyer’s theory in a blog post –
explain each of the 4 categories and give
examples using …
• Make sure you give examples for each using
Images or Videos (you could use Tubechop!)
• Discuss Fandom – are you a fan?
26. Task 2
• Write a 500 word essay answering the question:
To what extent does a pop stars
image influence their audience?
• Remember to include images and relevant
examples or quotes
Always remember P.E.A