Stars as constructions ‘Dyer’ …a star is an image (not a real person) constructed (as any other aspect of fiction is) out of a range of materials (e.g. advertising, magazines, etc. as well as films)
Marlon Brando If we look at these Marlon Brando publicity shots, we can perhaps establish what star ‘image’ was being perpetuated
Marlon Brando One-eyed Jacks, 1961
The Wild One, 1954
The Wild One, 1954
On the Waterfront, 1954
Guys and Dolls, 1955
On the Waterfront, 1954
Real? Not one of these images is the ‘truth’ There is a gap between what is constructed as the star image and what other possibilities in reportage about the star which somehow never get to be a real emphasis in the image.
Defining stars“Star images are always extensive, multimedia, intertextual” Richard Dyer
Early signs of the power of the ‘Star’
From silent to sound
Definitions Try to give a modern day example for each of the star definitions below. A star is: A real person –Stars allow ordinary people to identify with them (to an extent). A performer of roles – We come to know the stars intimately through the roles they play. We identify particular physical attributes, gestures and ideologies with certain stars. A persona – a merging of the real person and the role they take on – certain stars adopt the same type of roles. The persona is constructed through a mixture of publicists, fans and the media. It may have very little to do with the real person. An image – an object of desire –The star is a commodity. Their image can shift and mean different things to different people.
Real Person Reality TV tends to be the outlet by which ordinary people gain celebrity status. More often than not this involves them having to open up their lives to us to upkeep their celebrity status.
Performer of Roles For cinema audiences watching a typecast actor or actress with a familiar persona simplifies the reading Jason Statham as ‘Action Hero’
Persona Mickey Rourke – The Wrestler The film became a metaphor for his public persona. His character embodied his public persona as it highlighted the media’s perception of him as a has been. This is of course ironic as he was used heavily in the marketing of the film and has subsequently re-built his career on the back of the success of the film and particularly his performance.
Social Phenomenon Stars as a social phenomenon - how stars are understood as fulfilling a social and cultural function Consider Stallone’s roles in the Rambo films. Was he winning the war in Hollywood which the USA lost?
Ideology and Representations How do STARS reflect the values of dominant cultures? Task: What dominant ideological values do these two pictures embody?
Image – Object of Desire Both the characters they play and their media image project certain social roles and social messages to the audience. Certain actors embody the notion of what it is to beautiful and successful and this has an effect on their highly influential audience. “Stars like Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie have sex appeal, glamour and status as a celebrity couple. These stars can become subjects of erotic contemplation as fans derive a voyeuristic pleasure from gazing at the star image in the safe context of a one-way relationship.”
Commodity – Marketing Star as the ultimate marketing tool. The star is sent around the World marketing certain media (mainly film and music) and people inevitably will say “I’m going to see the new Brad Pitt movie”.
Task: supermarket girl to Hollywood star You spot a girl in a supermarket called Ann Burke. She has crooked teeth, short brown hair and glasses, yet there is something about her that intrigues you. It is your job to turn Ann into a Hollywood star. Plan her career over two years and end your plan with her red carpet premier for a high budget Hollywood film. Consider: Changes in image and name Typecasting – roles you will place her in Media coverage – interviews – magazines, newspapers Stories to be planted in the gossip columns (PR)
Homework: Group presentation on a chosen star Task: In small groups pick one star (someone that you haven’t studied in class). Produce a short presentation / handout on that star with visual images. The presentation / handout should include the following: The star you have chosen and why The star persona: How the stars real life and Media image merge. Examples of the stars image in Media texts. How is the star constructed? What are the cultural connotations of the images? Examples of how the star is used in publicity to market media products e.g. Events, Posters, Trailers, Interviews. The target audience for the star. Is there more than one target audience? Is the star polysemic?