CELEBRITY Media Issues and DebatesA2 Media Studies @ KKS
Do you recognise any of these people? What are they famous for?
Famous for being famous? What are these people known for?
Some critical perspectives see modern celebrity as an example of cultural decline, with fame no longer based on talent, achievements or expertise. They argue that fame is often based on luck and exposure. A more positive interpretation of contemporary celebrity points to the wider range of social groups being represented and this can be seen as the ‘democratisation’ of celebrity as well as evidence of a more inclusive society. DISCUSSION Do you see contemporary celebrities as an example of a more inclusive and democratic society? Is it relevant whether they are famous for their achievements and talent or simply ‘famous for being famous’
THE ATTRIBUTES OF A MODERN CELEBRITY SOURCE: AQA Media Studies A2 Textbook p9• Well known for being well known• Frequently seen in magazines such as Heat, OK and Hello and tabloid newspapers• Informal and intimate• Seen as familiar, down-to-earth and ‘someone like us’• Boundaries between private and public life are often blurred - Discussion of relationships and personal problems in the media.• Often the subject of gossip and speculationINDIVIDUALTASKThink critically about 3 celebrities that are frequently seen in the media. Is their fame basedon being famous or do they have unique skills and attributes that account for their fame?
CRITICALPERSPECTIVES Stacey (1994) argued that the meaning audiences place on celebrities is linked to a sense of escapism. The idea that an audience can dream or fantasise about being part of a lifestyle that celebrities are perceived to have. Stacey investigated the attachment of British women to Hollywood actresses in the post-war 40’s and 50’s (We will look at thisidea of ‘Female Spectatorship’ in more detail when we look at Feminism and the media)
CRITICALPERSPECTIVESDyer (1994) suggests that a celebrity must resonate with theideas, values and spirit of the time. The celebrity is very muchof their time and culture. ‘a product of their generation’ if youwill. Think about the discussion in magazines about celebrities and whether or not they conform to preconceived or in some cases hegemonic ideals. Celebrities are often lauded and derided in equal measure for what they where, what shape they are in, who they are dating e.t.c. Click here to read more about Dyer’s ‘Star Theory’ on the mediaknowall site.
CRITICALPERSPECTIVESAdorno and the Frankfurt School (1991) looked at both thepositive and negative inﬂuence of celebrity. They argued that the general public might identify with charismatic celebrity individuals with negative consequences. For example, connecting the rise in incidences of anorexia in young girls with the popularity and endorsement of supermodels and other prominent celebrity ﬁgures.
HOMEWORK Select a contemporary celebrity to research. Look at online newspapers. The celebrity’s websites and the websites of celebrity magazines such as OK! or Heat. Write a short essay style answer that considers the following: Production - Through what medium did this celebrity gain their status and how is it maintained Text - What is ordinary and extraordinary about this celebrity? How can they be seen as being symptomatic of the context or culture in which they are produced. Audience - Who consumes the media coverage of this celebrity; What meaning does it have to them do you think? Do the various media theorists’ critical perspectives on celebrity help to explain the popularity of the celebrity that you have researched?
FURTHERREADINGAQA A2 Media Studies Textbook - Pg8-11Adorno. T.,The Culture Industry: Selected Essays on MassCulture,Routledge,1991 - (Heavy reading but there are lots of summariesand overviews online!)Stacey. J., Star Gazing: Hollywood Cinema and Female Spectatorship,Routledge, 1994Dyer, R., Heavenly Bodies: Film Stars and Society, Routledge, 2004 This list is simply to encourage you to investigate these the theories discussed in class further should you choose to do so.