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Routledge Handbook Of Celebrity Studies
 1138022942,  9781138022942

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Routledge Handbook of Celebrity Studies

Ours is the age of celebrity. An inescapable aspect of daily life in our media-​saturated societies of the twenty-​first century, celebrity is celebrated for its infinite plasticity and glossy seductions. But there is also a darker side. Celebrity culture is littered from end to end with addictions, pathologies, neuroses, even suicides. Why, as a society, are we held in thrall to celebrity? What is the power of celebrity in a world of increasing consumerism, individualism and globalization? Routledge Handbook of Celebrity Studies, edited by acclaimed social theorist Anthony Elliott, offers a remarkably clear overview of the analysis of celebrity in the social sciences and humanities, and in so doing seeks to develop a new agenda for celebrity studies. The key theories of celebrity, ranging from classical sociological accounts to critical theory, and from media studies to postmodern approaches, are drawn together and critically appraised. There are substantive chapters looking at fame, renown and celebrity in terms of the media industries, pop music, the makeover industries, soap stars, fans and fandom as well as the rise of non-​Western forms of celebrity. The Handbook also explores in detail the institutional aspects of celebrity, and especially new forms of mediated action and interaction. From Web 3.0 to social media, the culture of celebrity is fast redefining the public political sphere. Throughout this volume, there is a strong emphasis on interdisciplinarity with chapters covering sociology, cultural studies, psychology, politics and history. Written in a clear and direct style, this handbook will appeal to a wide undergraduate audience. The extensive references and sources will direct students to areas of further study. Anthony Elliott is Dean of External Engagement at the University of South Australia, where he is Research Professor of Sociology and Executive Director of the Hawke EU Centre. He is also SuperGlobal Professor of Sociology (Visiting) at Keio University, Japan. He is the author and editor of some 40 books, including The Mourning of John Lennon, Making the Cut, Reinvention and Identity Troubles.

Routledge Handbook of Celebrity Studies

Edited by Anthony Elliott

First published 2018 by Routledge 2 Park Square, Milton Park, Abingdon, Oxon OX14 4RN and by Routledge 711 Third Avenue, New York, NY 10017 Routledge is an imprint of the Taylor & Francis Group, an informa business © 2018 selection and editorial matter, Anthony Elliott; individual chapters, the contributors The right of Anthony Elliott to be identified as the author of the editorial material, and of the authors for their individual chapters, has been asserted in accordance with sections 77 and 78 of the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1988. All rights reserved. No part of this book may be reprinted or reproduced or utilised in any form or by any electronic, mechanical, or other means, now known or hereafter invented, including photocopying and recording, or in any information storage or retrieval system, without permission in writing from the publishers. Trademark notice: Product or corporate names may be trademarks or registered trademarks, and are used only for identification and explanation without intent to infringe. British Library Cataloguing-​in-​Publication Data A catalogue record for this book is available from the British Library Library of Congress Cataloging-​in-​Publication Data A catalog record has been requested for this book ISBN: 978-​1-​138-​02294-​2 (hbk) ISBN: 978-​1-​315-​77677-​4 (ebk) Typeset in Bembo by Out of House Publishing

Contents

List of contributors Acknowledgements

viii xi

PART I

Theories and Concepts of Celebrity

1

1 Celebrity and contemporary culture: a critical analysis of some theoretical accounts Anthony Elliott and Ross Boyd

3

2 Celebrity’s histories Robert van Krieken

26

3 Celebrity in the contemporary era Hannah Hamad

44

4 Postmodern theories of celebrity Lee Barron

58

5 Cultural studies and the politics of celebrity: from powerless elite to celebristardom Barry King 6 Celebrity and religion Kathryn Lofton

73 93

PART II

The Culture of Celebrity

107

7 The death of celebrity: global grief, manufactured mourning Anthony Elliott

109

v

Contents

8 Soap stars C. Lee Harrington

124

9 Celebrity, fans and fandom Nick Stevenson

141

10 Celebrity in the social media age: renegotiating the public and the private Anne Jerslev and Mette Mortensen

157

PART III

Non-​Western Celebrity

175

11 Victims, Bollywood and the construction of a cele-​meme Pramod K. Nayar

177

12 K-​pop idols, artificial beauty and affective fan relationships in South Korea Joanna Elfving-​Hwang

190

13 ‘Idols’ in Japan, Asia and the world Patrick W. Galbraith

202

14 Celebrity and power in South America Nahuel Ribke

215

15 Celebrity philanthropy in China: rethinking cultural studies’ ‘Big Citizen’ critique Elaine Jeffreys

227

PART IV

The Conduits of Celebrity

243

16 Celebrity in the age of global communication networks Olivier Driessens

245

17 Celebrity involvement: parasocial interaction, identification and worship William J. Brown 18 Celebrity, reputational capital and the media industries Philip Drake

vi

255 271

Contents

19 Human rights, democracy and celebrity Mark Wheeler

285

20 Drastic plastic: identity in the age of makeover Anthony Elliott

301

21 The Great Gomez John Astin in conversation with Anthony Elliott

314

Index

322

vii

Contributors

Anthony Elliott is Dean of External Engagement, Executive Director of the Hawke EU Centre

and Research Professor at the University of South Australia. He is the author or editor of some 40 books, including most recently Identity Troubles (Routledge, 2016), The Consequences of Global Disasters (Routledge, 2016, edited with E.L. Hsu) and The Routledge Handbook of Psychoanalysis in the Social Sciences and Humanities (Routledge, 2016, edited with Jeffrey Prager). Ross Boyd is a Research Associate in External Relations and Strategic Projects at the University

of South Australia. His publications include Culture and Education (with B.  Wadham and J. Pudsey), book chapters and peer-​reviewed articles in scholarly journals such as the Journal of Sociology, Human Geography and International Education Journal. Robert van Krieken is Professor of Sociology at the University of Sydney, and Visiting

Professor at University College Dublin. His recent publications include Celebrity Society (Routledge, 2012), Sociology (Pearson, 2013, with D. Habibis, P. Smith, B. Hutchins, G. Martin and K.  Maton) and Celebrity and the Law (Federation Press, 2010, with P.  Loughlan and B. McDonald). Hannah Hamad is Senior Lecturer in Media and Communication at Cardiff University. Her

recent publications include ‘Contemporary Medical Television and Crisis in the NHS’ (Critical Studies in Television, 2016), ‘Eddie Murphy’s Baby Mama Drama and Smith Family Values’ in S. Cobb and N. Ewen (eds), First Comes Love (Bloomsbury, 2015) and ‘I’m Not Past My Sell By Date Yet!’ in D. Jermyn and S. Holmes (eds), Women, Celebrity and Cultures of Ageing (Palgrave Macmillan, 2015). Lee Barron is Principal Lecturer in the Department of Media and Communication Design. His recent books include Celebrity Cultures: An introduction (Sage, 2015) and Social Theory in Popular Culture (Palgrave, 2013)  along with numerous articles in scholarly journals such as Celebrity Studies, Cultural Studies and Postcolonial Studies. Barry King is Professor of Communications and Director of the Performance Research Centre

in the School of Communication Studies, Auckland University of Technology. He was the lead researcher on the Ministry of Culture and Heritage funded project on Television Violence in New Zealand, author of Taking Fame to Market: Pre-​Hollywood and Post-​Hollywood Stardom (Palgrave Macmillan, 2014)  and co-​author of Studying the Event Film:  Lord of the Rings (Manchester University Press, 2008, with Harriet Margolis, Sean Cubitt and Thierry Jutel).

viii

List of contributors

Kathryn Lofton is Professor of Religious Studies,American Studies and History; Chair, Religious

Studies at Yale University. Her publications include Consuming Religion (University of Chicago Press, 2017), Oprah:  The Gospel of an Icon (University of California Press, 2011)  and Women’s Work: An Anthology of African-​American Women’s Historical Writings from Antebellum America to the Harlem Renaissance (Oxford University Press, 2010, edited with Laurie Maffly-​Kipp). C. Lee Harrington is Professor of Sociology and Social Justice Studies at the University of

Miami. Her recent publications include Fandom:  Identities and communities in a mediated world (NYU Press, 2017, edited with J. Gray and C. Sandvoss) and Aging, Media, Culture (Lexington Books, 2014, edited with D.D. Bielby and A.R. Bardo) and numerous book chapters and articles in scholarly journals such as Communication, Culture & Critique, Sociology Compass and International Journal of Cultural Studies. Nick Stevenson is a reader in Cultural Sociology at the University of Nottingham. His

publications include Human Rights and the Reinvention of Freedom (Routledge, 2017), Freedom (Routledge, 2012), Education and Cultural Citizenship (Sage, 2011) and David Bowie: Fame, sound and vision (Cambridge, 2006). Anne Jerslev is Professor II at the Department of Media and Communication, and Professor

in Film and Media Studies at the Department of Media, Cognition and Communication, University of Copenhagen. Her publications include Reality-​tv (Sanfundslitteratur, 2014), Impure Cinema (Taurus, 2014) and numerous book chapters and articles in scholarly journals such as Media, Culture and Society, Celebrity Studies and International Journal of Cultural Studies. Mette Mortensen is Associate Professor in the Department of Media, Cognition and

Communication at the University of Copenhagen. Her recent publications include Journalism and Eyewitness Images (Routledge, 2015), Social Media Materialities and Protest (Routledge, 2018, edited with Christina Neumayer and Thomas Poell), Television Drama in the Age of Media Convergence (Intellect, 2016, edited with Gunhild Agger) and Global Moral Spectatorship in the Age of Social Media (Routledge, 2016, edited with Hans-​Jörg Trenz). Pramod K.  Nayar is Professor and Head of the Department of English at the University of

Hyderabad. His most recent books include The Indian Graphic Novel: Nation, history and critique (Routledge, 2016), The Transnational in English Literature: Shakespeare to the modern (Routledge, 2015), Cultural Studies in India (Routledge, 2017, editor) and Postcolonial Studies: An anthology (Wiley, 2015, editor). Joanna Elfving-​Hwang is an Associate Professor at the University of Western Australia. Her

publications include Representations of Femininity in Contemporary South Korean Women’s Literature (Brill/​Global Oriental, 2010), book chapters in edited volumes as well as articles in scholarly journals such as Body and Society, Journal of Aging Studies and Korea Journal. She is currently working on a monograph tentatively titled ‘Beauty, Cosmetic Surgery and the Body in Korea’. Patrick W. Galbraith holds a Ph.D. in Information Studies from the University of Tokyo and a

Ph.D. in Cultural Anthropology from Duke University. His recent publications include The Moe Manifesto (Tuttle, 2014), Debating Otaku in Contemporary Japan (Bloomsbury, 2015)  and Media Convergence in Japan (Kinema Club, 2016).

ix

List of contributors

Nahuel Ribke is an Associate Lecturer in the Department of Communication at Tel Aviv

University. Recent publications include A Genre Approach to Celebrity Politics: Global patterns of passage from media to politics (Palgrave, 2015), as well as articles in scholarly journals such as Media, Culture and Society, European Journal of Cultural Studies and International Journal of Communication. Elaine Jeffreys is Professor in International Studies (China) at the University of Technology,

Sydney. Recent publications include Sex in China (Polity, 2015), Celebrity Philanthropy (Intellect, 2015, edited with Paul Allatson), Prostitution Scandals in China: Policing, media and society (Routledge, 2012) and Celebrity in China (Hong Kong University Press, 2010, edited with Louise Edwards). Olivier Driessens is Lecturer in the Sociology of Media and Culture at the University of

Cambridge. He has contributed numerous articles to scholarly journals including Theory and Society, Media, Culture and Society, Communications and Celebrity Studies. William Brown is a Professor, Research Fellow and Departmental Chair in the Department

of Strategic Communication & Journalism, Regents University. He has contributed chapters to many edited volumes and published numerous articles in scholarly journals including American Behavioural Scientist, Journal of Communication, Communication Theory and Journal of Health Communication. Philip Drake is Professor of Film, Media and Communications and Director of the Centre for

Communication, Cultural and Media Studies, Queen Margaret University. Recent publications include Hollywood and the Law (Palgrave Macmillan, 2015, edited with P. McDonald, E. Carman and E. Hoyt), numerous book chapters and articles in scholarly journals including British Journal of Politics and International Relations, Cultural Politics, Environmental Communication and Media, Culture and Society. Mark Wheeler is Professor of Political Communications at London Metropolitan University. He

has written five books including Celebrity Politics (Polity, 2013). He has published numerous peer-​ reviewed articles such as ‘Celebrity Diplomacy: UN Goodwill Ambassadors and Messengers of Peace’ and Celebrity Studies: Special edition on celebrity and the global and contributed chapters to many edited volumes.

x

Acknowledgements

Routledge Handbook of Celebrity Studies has been a long time in the making. Gerhard Boomgaarden suggested the project, and played a critical role throughout. I am hugely in his debt, for both this project and so many others. Ross Boyd was also marvellously helpful throughout the project, and played a critical role in both overseeing the schedule of writing for the Handbook and working with me on developing the analysis and critique of celebrity studies which is set out in the pages which follow. My research on celebrity, fame and the global transformation of renown stretches back some three decades. I was fortunate that my book, The Mourning of John Lennon (University of California Press, 1999), made a significant impact in the social sciences and humanities, especially in the UK and throughout Europe. (On the reception of my social theory of celebrity see Cornel Sandvoss, Fans: The Mirror of Consumption, Cambridge: Polity Press, 2005.) Since that time, I have continued to periodically return to celebrity, fame and fandom as regards different research issues I address in my work –​from Making The Cut: How Cosmetic Surgery is Transforming Our Lives (London: Reaktion Books, 2008) to Reinvention (London and New York: Routledge, 2013). In putting together this volume, I  have drawn very largely from some remarkably helpful conversations with the following people who have helped me understand the world of celebrity, and its twists and turns. Thank you to Lloyd Cole, Robert Forster, John Foxx, John Astin and Elliot Mintz. Also, on the academic front, many thanks to Nick Stevenson, who perhaps more than any other sociologist has influenced my thinking on global transformations of fame. Pulling together this kind of project whilst working on so many different fronts –​research, management and administration, consultancy and writing –​would not be possible in my case if it were not for the supra-​human efforts of my wife, Nicola Geraghty. Also I could not do this work without the daily support of Caoimhe, Oscar and Niamh Elliott. Frisk Geraghty has been inspirational these last years, and so many thanks. I really hope this Handbook has impact, both inside and beyond the academy. I undertook the project mostly because I have been looking for this book, but could never find it. Anthony Elliott Tokyo

xi

Part I

Theories and Concepts of Celebrity

1 Celebrity and contemporary culture A critical analysis of some theoretical accounts Anthony Elliott and Ross Boyd

Celebrity is at once astonishingly mesmerizing and mind-​numbingly dull, crazily libertarian and depressingly conformist. Our culture of celebrity feigns the new, the contemporary, the up-​to-​ date, as it recycles the past. Celebrities are constantly on the brink of obsolescence, of appearing out of date. Today Beyoncé, the day before Justin Bieber, and before that Lady Gaga. Celebrities are radically excessive in this respect: in a world teeming with images and information, celebrities trade in sheer novelty as a means of transcending the fame of others with whom they compete for public renown. To a large extent, celebrity represents a central driving force behind the cascade of individualized, liquid and reflexive societies of reinvention. In contemporary cultural conditions where lifestyles and life strategies in the advanced cities are increasingly rendered light, plastic and adaptable, is it any wonder that celebrities should be worshipped as sacred icons? In his pioneering study of fame The Frenzy of Renown (1986), Leo Braudy traced the many different ways in which representations of the famous have been disseminated. From traditional societies in which gods, priests and saints were famous, through to the era of Hollywood and its invention of film stars, different societies and cultures have developed particular methods for the dissemination of information on public figures. Braudy focused especially on how fame is dependent on media dissemination, and highlights how the urge to fame is increasingly personalized with the advent of mass communications and popular culture. He underscored, for example, the complex ways in which personal authenticity, artistic originality and individual creativity have shaped, and been shaped by, forms of public attention. From Laurence Olivier’s dramatic talents to John Lennon’s lyrical brilliance, the true artist of the modernist era was one who distinguished themselves through the expression of their personal gifts, their ‘inner genius’, lifting them out from the surrounds of the wider society. Braudy’s study, whilst historically comprehensive in scope, traced celebrity only until the advent of radio in the 1920s and television in the 1940s. His book is widely regarded as a key reference work in the area of celebrity studies, but it is interesting to compare celebrity in the early twenty-​first century with even the period of the early twentieth century.Today’s globalized world of new information technologies and media transformations turns both the production and reception of fame upside down. We have witnessed in recent years a large-​scale shift from 3

Anthony Elliott and Ross Boyd

Hollywood definitions of fame to multi-​media-​driven forms of public recognition. This new field of ‘publicness’ (Thompson 1995) signals a general transformation from ‘fame’ to ‘celebrity’. This has involved a very broad change from narrow, elite definitions of public renown to more open, inclusive understandings. This democratization of public renown has gone hand in hand with the rise of celebrity culture. Celebrity today hinges increasingly on the capacity of the celebrated to create a distance (however minimal) from what originally brought them to public notice, thereby opening a media space from which to project their celebrity in novel and innovative ways. In a sense, celebrity might be described as fame emptied of content, or artistry. We are, arguably, at a considerable remove from the world of fame as analysed by Braudy. What is striking is not simply how celebrities transform and reinvent their identities today, but how many of them embrace and indeed celebrate a culture of inauthenticity. If originality and authenticity were the hallmarks of traditional notions of fame, then parody, pastiche and, above all, sudden transformations in a star’s identity are the key indicators of contemporary celebrity (Rojek 2004). Why are we so spellbound by ideas of celebrity, yet so often dismissive of the celebrated? Given the increasingly fleeting nature of fame, what are the broader cultural consequences of celebrity culture? What does celebrity tell us about society, and in particular what might it reveal about our possible social futures? How does celebrity express and contain cultural contradictions, especially differences of sexuality, gender, race, ethnicity and multicultures? And what does celebrity, and our fascination with it, say about our own lives? What does celebrity reflect about changing conceptions and practices of self-​identity, interpersonal relationships, sexuality, desire, affect and the body? One aim of the Routledge Handbook of Celebrity Studies is to engage these questions from different intellectual traditions and theoretical standpoints. Another aim is to ponder the various cultural practices and social transformations associated with celebrity culture.Yet another aim is to introduce readers to the very broad research conducted in the social sciences and humanities on celebrity and its social and cultural consequences, and to connect these strands of research more systematically than previously. In this introductory chapter, we aim to develop a reasonably comprehensive  –​though necessarily provisional –​account of the development of celebrity studies along the twin interdisciplinary axes of social theory and cultural analysis. In the first section of the chapter, we contextualize the phenomenon of celebrity in terms of culture, communications and media more generally, and examine the rise of the interdisciplinary field of celebrity studies. In the second section of the chapter, we shift focus to the intricate connections between globalization, modernity and capitalism, and reflect on how celebrity cultures are produced, reproduced and transformed across time and space in the wider frame of complex institutional systems and transnational corporations. The final section of the chapter considers an array of recent debates on celebrity culture, everyday life and processes of identity-​formation in our social media age of endless reinvention, do-​it-​yourself makeovers and short-​term identity projects.

Situating celebrity and the rise of celebrity studies Celebrities stand apart from the crowd. Celebrities are necessarily different from mere mortals. Celebrities are unique. To be part of the world of celebrity is to be elsewhere and other. If we stop to pause and reflect on this mediated world of the famous  –​whether the artefacts under consideration are, say, artist, performance or digital simulation –​celebrities are revealed as shaped to their roots by culture, capitalism, communication and the circuits of desire, imagination and fantasy. But how do we get behind the celebrity-​maker machinery? How might we best conceptualize celebrity as a reference point (and cultural resource) for how we understand 4

Celebrity and contemporary culture

our self-​identities and enact our bodies, our anticipations and expectations of the world and our living with others, our modes of ordering social relations and generating forms of shared belonging across often vast physical, social and cultural distances, or the ways we give expression to our pleasures and desires, frustrations and fears (Turner 2010; Sandvoss 2005). Likewise, but from a more Olympian height, how might we understand the complex ways celebrity is so heavily implicated in the processes and institutions of democratization, individualization, commodification, secularization, mediatization, nation-​state formation and so forth (Marshall 1997; Couldry 2000; Rojek 2001). Thinking celebrity seriously requires celebrity studies.The study of celebrity has emerged as an interdisciplinary field, which engages social and cultural theory in order to give analytic shape and direction to its important questions and probings about the ongoing public significance of celebrity, and processes of mediatization more generally, in contemporary society. From this angle, thinking celebrity seriously means thinking complexity, fluidity and instability. Celebrity is, like the world of which it is a part (see Thrift 2005), inherently dynamic, shot through with contingency and contradiction, interpretive confusions and accidents, always in the process of becoming, unfinished and unfinishable. At the outset, we need to be cautious about underplaying historical continuities that do exist in the rush to declare the emergence of something new. Marcus (2015), for example, warns of the risks of a form of technological determinism wherein the advent of new media technologies, and the new communication channels and formats these afford, is said (on the basis of the close relationship between celebrity and media) to lead directly to some or other radical disjuncture in the historical trajectory of celebrity. The risk here is one of confusing what may at most be quantitative adjustments –​say increasing the speed or extending the reach of existing or some or other renewed practices –​for profound qualitative transformations. Bearing this in mind, part of our argument will be that tracking the advancing cultural fronts of celebrity and its futures invariably adds insights that enhance our understanding of the past –​in this instance, of how the celebrated and famous of yesteryear shape and reshape both the present and future of celebrity. These are more than just historical niceties, as Robert van Krieken makes clear with respect to the development of a genuine history of celebrity (Chapter 2), one that captures social-​historical change over time. According to van Krieken, any historical analysis that works with a model of celebrity freighted up with a maximum of current elements and characteristics is most likely to yield a rather shallow history: a history wherein one either sees celebrity as it currently obtains, or one does not see celebrity at all. The alternative approach that van Krieken suggests, and subsequently demonstrates in a necessarily partial and provisional manner, is to break celebrity down into its component aspects –​ranging across visual culture, conceptions of self and subjectivity, the public sphere, power imbalances, imagined communities, market dynamics and communications media –​and then observe how the arrangement of these aspects, by dint of each of them being caught up in the histories of other social processes, has been configured differently in different periods, producing a variety of historically unique forms of celebrity. In van Krieken’s chapter, this approach enables him to situate the history of celebrity from around the 12th century and the emergence of the medieval Christian cult of the saints (see also Lilti 2017). It should be noted that conceptualizing celebrity in terms of such complex, ever-​shifting configurations of relatively discrete elements offers considerable analytic purchase with respect to current fields of celebrity, as well as for examining the multiple celebrity futures nested within, and attendant upon, developments in the present. The history of celebrity studies, as an identifiable, self-​aware field of scholarship is, unlike the history of celebrity itself, a relatively recent development. Richard Dyer’s Stars (1979) is often taken by many critics as a foundational text, with the subsequent steady flow of monographs 5

Anthony Elliott and Ross Boyd

throughout the next few decades relatively quickly providing the field with definition and breadth (Braudy 1986; Dyer 1986; Gamson 1994; Marshall 1997; Elliott 1999; Giles 2000; Rojek 2001; Turner 2004). The phenomenon of celebrity itself, being of much longer provenance, had certainly not wanted for attention prior to this point. Braudy (1986), for instance, reports on much of the 19th-​century writing on the topic, and a range of notable figures in 20th-​century social thought gave the topic serious consideration. C. Wright Mills, for example, included a chapter on celebrity as an identifiable category of social elites in his major work The Power Elite (1957), and in so doing (alongside Alberoni’s contrary 1962 essay, The Powerless Elite) drew attention to the relevance of Max Weber’s classical theoretical works on “status” and “charisma” as essential to the study of celebrity.This influence of Weber’s social thought continues to the present day in celebrity studies –​both explicitly, in Milner’s (2010) creative repurposing and elaboration on the analysis of status, and the work of Rojek (2001), Marshall (1997) and Giloi and Berenson (2010) on charisma, and also more obliquely in the development of the idea of “celebrity-​capital”, extrapolating from Bourdieu’s work on the various forms of capital and social power (Driessens 2013a; Couldry 2015). However, the two antecedent texts that have left the greatest and most lasting impression on the field of celebrity studies are, arguably, Max Horkheimer and Theodore Adorno’s The Culture Industry: Enlightenment as Mass Deception –​possibly the most read chapter in what is without doubt the most influential publication from the first generation of Frankfurt School thinkers, Dialectic of Enlightenment (1944) –​and Daniel Boorstin’s 1964 study, The Image, or,What Happened to the American Dream. Horkheimer and Adorno locate their analysis of celebrity –​the culture industry and associated star system –​within a much larger world-​historical narrative. This narrative is complex, and as it is well-​charted terrain in social and cultural theory we only touch here on aspects of the work of Horkheimer and Adorno which are relevant to celebrity studies. According to this account, the arrival of the Enlightenment brought with it the hope that people, through exercising their capacity for reasoned thought, might free themselves from the dead weight of tradition and myth.That is to say, the Enlightenment ushered in a promise of freedom from dependence upon, and hence subordination to, the capricious whims of nature as well as non-​negotiable social hierarchies of privilege and power, along with the mythical systems of thought that underwrite these. Such a promise, however, was not translated into actuality. Horkheimer and Adorno argue that this emancipatory Enlightenment impulse was bled white as reason revealed itself to be serviceable only in an instrumental-​rational fashion, leading to a return of myth in the form of a compulsive preoccupation with exercising dominion over nature, society and self. Against the backdrop of the emancipatory promises of culture, according to this story, the serious strivings of ‘high’ art and the rebelliousness of ‘low’ art have been assimilated to the imperatives of a culture industry with its mass production of routine and repetitive cultural commodities for a mass of passive consumers. Celebrity, or the star system, performs a crucial role here. For, alongside the production of cultural goods according to well-​tried, ‘standardized’ formulae for ‘successful’ popular music, film or literature, the culture industry borrows from the aesthetic repertoire and the techniques of individualistic art to affect a quality of uniqueness and originality in its products. This ‘psuedo-​individuality’  –​the claims to originality being at best only minor variations (as with locks and keys) –​is most evident in the star system, in the ‘virtuoso’ jazz improvisation (or its equivalent in subsequent genres) or the distinctive traits and gestures that testify to the specialness of the movie star. Aside from the obvious commercial reasons for wanting to produce ostensibly new effects, Horkheimer and Adorno argue that this pseudo-​ individuality performs important ideological functions. Where culture once took the side of radical critique, in its creative strivings raising a protest on behalf of a subordinated and suffering humanity, it now works to deceive –​very much in keeping with the original Scottish meaning 6

Celebrity and contemporary culture

of “glamour”. The culture industry/​star system keeps alive the original emancipatory dream in the form of free choice, whilst everywhere reducing this to little more then the “freedom to choose what is always the same”. Boorstin’s analysis, by contrast, is informed by (and carries forward) a more conservative intellectual tradition. His basic organizing structure  –​hero-​celebrity/​authentic-​inauthentic  –​ rehearses a line of cultural criticism descending from Thomas Carlyle, John Rushkin and Matthew Arnold, and where the ascent of the celebrity at the expense of the hero provides evidentiary warrant for the thesis that the Modern West, for all its advances against material deprivation, squalor and disease, is locked into a long process of cultural decline (Carroll 1993). Central to Boorstin’s (1964) account is the ‘Graphic Revolution’ –​a period, commencing around the midpoint of the 19th century, when techniques for the mechanical reproduction of images, photography being most prominent, along with the rise of telegraphic communications, led to a massive increase in the capacity to make images and disseminate them widely. As a consequence, Boorstin argues, ‘the image’ –​photographs, advertisements, posters, prints –​displaces language, and accordingly exposition, as the principal medium for representing events, to the point where actual events –​especially matters of genuine common concern –​make way for the ‘pseudo-​ event’, the publicity stunt contrived solely for the purposes of attracting attention. Likewise the celebrity, the ‘human pseudo-​event’, a media fabrication “well-​known for his well-​knowness”, colonizes the spaces of public life once occupied by the hero, the person who owes their public renown to their genuine accomplishments, noble qualities of character and contributions to the greater public good. What is striking about these works, especially from the vantage point of contemporary celebrity studies, is that in spite of the enormous gulf that lies between the intellectual traditions upon which they draw, both resolve upon a very similar, vertical surface-​depth analytic structure. Here celebrity occupies the surface, as symptom or epiphenomenon of deeper social-​structural and cultural processes which are accorded explanatory primacy. And both studies double down on this surface-​depth model normatively –​celebrity, at both the institutional and individual levels, is a shallow, superficial, decorative or inauthentic cultural form or figure in comparison with that which is said to be historically constitutive, this leading to a thinning or hollowing out of public political life.This is striking because so much of the endeavour under the rubric of celebrity studies over the last four decades has entailed a turning towards and sustained reworking of ‘surfaces’. We refer here to the processes of detailed elaboration of, and drawing ever more subtle distinctions among, audiences, fans, the celebrity, as well as a fine-​g rained mapping of the diversity of celebrity fields and forms of media, along with the meshwork of interconnections between the cultural and the commercial, among other things. As a result ‘the surfaces’ have acquired a complexity, nuance and texture, substance, weight and depth (in the visual sense) such that it becomes less useful, for analytic and normative purposes, to define these ‘surfaces’ through reference to depths (in the vertical sense) –​but rather better to employ the more ‘horizontal’ language of fields, networks, assemblages or, indeed, ever-​shifting configurations among relatively discrete elements. This is not to say that these classic studies, having played their part in provoking and galvanizing the field of celebrity studies, have little more to contribute in the way of substantive offerings. We need only consider the strong (if not always acknowledged) echoes of the Frankfurt critique in the application of the concept of ideology to the institution of celebrity  –​for example, those reported in Rodman’s (2013) study of (dead) Elvis, the poor-​boy-​made-​good, as mediator between the hard realities of daily life and the ‘ideal’ world of popular media representation in which the social order is open, negotiable, and in which all have an equal chance of having their own uniqueness recognized and rewarded. 7

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In his contribution to this volume, however, Barry King (Chapter  5) questions whether the legitimating narrative of stars as ordinary, if extraordinarily lucky, people is increasingly unsustainable in the context of Hollywood’s winner-​take-​all economy, the chasmic inequalities of wealth this generates between a market-​selected celebrity elite and the average citizenry, and the subsequent migration of this elite into adjoining economic sectors (branding and personal endorsement) and the political sphere. Even so, in King’s repurposing of the critique of ideology we can identify numerous features that are strongly indebted to the first generation of critical theorists. For instance, in the context of ‘emotional capitalism’, he asserts, the “grammar of stardom and celebrity emphasizes exceptional individualism”, where a commitment to self-​realization stands as “the hallmark of personal and professional success”. More, whilst audiences are clearly active, as evidenced in their creative engagement, as “insiders”, with reflexive shows and series, this agency is modular –​entails “choices and acts of identification” within a predetermined choice set. Nevertheless these familiar elements sit, analytically and normatively, on a horizontal plane comprising networks, nodes and connections  –​where being successful equates with being better connected, the result of competence defined in terms of networking and bonding skills (themselves marketable assets), while the commodification and consumption of social relations exact significant, if not always apparent, ethical and emotional costs. Past, present and future tangle in complex ways within the very tradition of celebrity studies. As Lee Barron points out in Chapter 4, Boorstin can be considered a kind of proto-​ postmodernist. From this angle, the notion of ‘pseudo-​event’ can be cast as a prototype for certain versions of postmodernist discourse –​for example, in Baudrillard’s ideas of simulation and hyperreality. Drawing extensively on postmodern theory, Barron reworks Boorstin’s thesis concerning the disengagement of greatness from celebrity in the context of the twenty-​first century, arguing that whilst the notion of an excessively fluid and multiple self might be problematic in the context of the everyday lives of ordinary social actors, it can be considered requisite for maintaining a viable and durable public persona in an age marked by flexible capitalism and the proliferation of media forms and channels, along with the competition this engenders. Here Lana Del Rey (Lizzy Grant) and Miley Cyrus serve as exemplars of the types of carefully assembled and displayed public personae that are consistent with postmodern conceptions of the self as a moveable feast. Yet in framing a response to critical readings of del Ray as predictable and standard (pace the Frankfurt critique), as well as conservatively antifeminist, Barron cites Vigier’s analysis of the complexity inhering within Del Ray’s persona and music, and in so doing placing her closer than is often recognized to David Bowie, Madonna or Lady Gaga. In all this, we find celebrities for whom constant reinvention is considered to have genuine aesthetic merit. Reviewing some of the leading thematics that characterize the contemporary analysis of celebrity Hannah Hamad (Chapter 3) finds numerous points of affinity between the operational logics and industrial mechanics of the celebrity cultural economy of the twenty-​first century, and those identified by Adorno and Horkheimer as well as Boorstin. Nonetheless there have been, she maintains, significant increases in the pervasiveness, intensity and exorbitance of these logics and mechanics. For instance, the ‘well-​tried standardized formulae’ that the Frankfurt thinkers observed now extend to celebrity branding and endorsement (one must have one’s own brand of perfume/​cologne), whilst we have, if infrequently, witnessed the type of planned and staged event that Boorstin discusses suddenly erupt into the ‘celebrity flashpoint’ –​unpredictable, unmanageable, yet a ‘real’ and often deeply moving event (e.g. the funeral of Diana, Princess of Wales). While in some ways continuous these developments are in many respects qualitatively distinct from their earlier manifestations. And this is in large part due to the emergence of processes and conditions –​new digital technologies, new genres (reality TV) and media forms 8

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(social media, online platforms), and the proliferation of the celebrity gossip media as an industry in its own right –​generative of structural features distinctive to contemporary celebrity culture. These include discourses of authenticity and the democratization of celebrity. It remains more generally the case, however, that the Culture Industry and The Image continue to influence the field of celebrity studies as points of conceptual departure. This certainly holds true for the first (and indeed later) generations of audience reception and fandom research. This emerged within the fields of media and cultural studies, which, armed with sociologist Stuart Hall’s encoding/​decoding methodologies, set about rescuing the figure of the fan from jaundiced Frankfurt representations of them as mere victims of a commercial culture that systematically deprived fandom of the symbolic resources necessary for radical forms of expression. The itinerary taken by Sandvoss (2005) in his study Fans is instructive here for the ways he both advances and then claws back, at least partially, the notion of sovereign fanhood. This notion refers, for example, to the creative, even subversive (e.g. slash fiction), fan voices observed by Fiske or Jenkins, along with more performative interactions between fans and celebrity ‘texts’ (Cavicchi). In a different idiom, one indebted to Freudian psychoanalysis, celebrity studies has similarly examined the way ongoing processes of projection and introjection (Stacey, Elliott) entailed in the relationships between fans and the objects of fandom –​wherein the object presents as an extension of the fan’s self, and vice versa –​can become overshadowed by a dysfunctional, if not threatening, anxiety. It is interesting to note that Sandvoss’s final chapter is subtitled One-​ Dimensional Fan, in a nod clearly sympathetic towards the Frankfurt School critique; yet, curiously, the upshot of his study as a whole is to give a very real, very human presence to the figure of the fan. It is in this figuring out of fandom, this granting to the figure of the fan the dignity of character and life –​caught up, as fans surely are, in institutional dynamics and symbolic forms through which they make sense of, fashion themselves and their relations with others and the worlds in which they dwell –​that celebrity studies enacts a ‘reworking of the surface’. This is an analytical operation that is undertaken in a number of directions by various contributors to this volume. Traversing much of the same conceptual terrain as Sandvoss, Nick Stevenson (Chapter 9) develops an approach to the analysis of fandom that moves some considerable way beyond the opposition of ‘popular culture as of diminished aesthetic value and corrosive of political sensibilities’ and ‘popular culture as a forcing bed for resistance and subversion’. Drawing upon Cavicchi’s study of Bruce Springsteen fans, and his own research on David Bowie fandom, Stevenson highlights the cultural and political ambiguities that attend the often drawn-​out process of becoming and remaining a fan. On the one hand, both Springsteen and Bowie are patently component parts of the star system and the vast machinery involved in the commercial production of cultural goods. On the other hand, fans report experiencing an intense personal connection with these artists; such fans highlight that the works of these artists, and hence the performers themselves, capture something important about, or speak with the authority of authenticity to, the lived experiences of the fans. Here are Springsteen’s incisive grasp of the darker aspects of the American Dream (unemployment, poverty, divorce and systemic indifference), and Bowie’s capacity for reinvention (neither fading away nor merely recycling past glories) and his enthusiastic embrace, as part of his artistry, of chronic change. Both Springsteen and Bowie achieve –​each in their own distinctive way –​a strong resonance with those whose everyday private and public circumstances of living are marked by instability, precariousness, discontinuity and fragmentation. The intensity of fan involvement with celebrity is also central to the analysis by William Brown (Chapter  17), albeit drawing upon a very different intellectual inheritance  –​namely, Horton and Wohl’s influential 1950s studies of “parasocial interaction”. Parasocial interaction 9

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refers to the interaction television viewers imagine occurring between themselves and television personae, resulting from the visuality and hence perceived intimacy of television as a medium. When sustained over a certain length of time this could, it was argued, evolve into the parasocial relationship. Given the proliferation of (especially visual) forms of communication, and accordingly channels for engaging with and developing strong psychological and emotional attachments to celebrities, Brown is keen to tease out important gradations along the spectrum of celebrity involvement and the dynamic interplay between these. Here, alongside the parasocial relationship, Brown arranges, as a function of increasing intensity and duration, celebrity identification (fans internalize the attitudes and beliefs of the given celebrity) and celebrity worship (the idolization or veneration of celebrity). Reflecting on how fan-​celebrity relationships are often couched in the religious language of worship (McCutcheon et al., 2013), along with a more general tendency to draw strong parallels between relationships with celebrity and religious practice (Rojek 2001; Giles 2000; Ward 2011), Kathryn Lofton (Chapter 6) considers the different ways these parallels may be construed (celebrity as god, celebrity as saint, celebrity worship as religion). She argues that thinking about celebrity with an eye towards religion allows us to think the study of celebrity in new ways. Most notably, she suggests, religion is a term that “magnifies and intensifies whatever it touches, turning a touch into a blessing and an utterance into a prayer”, adding that celebrity studies might likewise gain much from considering itself the study of magnifications and intensifications. Drawing upon Feasey’s analysis of reader responses to stories about celebrity lives in heat magazine, and how discussions will often move quite quickly to engagement with fundamental moral concerns (violence, infidelity), Lofton notes that the readers’ comments sections of the popular celebrity media exhibit many of the traits of a public sphere –​for sure nothing quite like that which Habermas had in mind, but a form of public sphere nonetheless. Whilst clearly a provocation, Lofton’s suggestion here is consistent with research on the ways media coverage of celebrity scandals can rapidly evolve into institutional morality tales (Gamson 2001). A “study of magnifications” very much describes Elliott’s (Chapter 7) analysis centred on the murder of ex-​Beatle John Lennon and the crises, at once personal and cultural, that surrounded this. The celebrity death –​including the dead celebrity and the posthumous career –​can be considered a distinct subfield of celebrity studies (Rodman 2013; Jones and Jensen 2005; Elliott 1999; McCann 1988). For Elliott, Lennon’s death, and the social trauma that erupted, provides a lens onto “mass culture and its powers to attract, inflect, recast, displace, and transform our personal and political self-​understandings”. Celebrity, as a mediated form of the global electronic economy, is part and parcel of what sociologist John B. Thompson refers to as “mediated quasi interaction”. This notion of mediated quasi-​interaction refers to the global extension and intensification of social relations that makes “intimacy at a distance” possible. More pointedly, celebrity in this context serves as an important, though by no means exclusive, cultural resource by and through which individuals make sense of their self-​identities, social relations, the world and how to go on in it. And at the same time, celebrity is implicated in a sort of depletion of certain valuable cultural resources, which occurs through processes that Anthony Giddens refers to as the “sequestration of experience”.This displacing of human experience occurs within contemporary social processes of concealment whereby ‘ontological security’ is gained at the cost of separating out vital existential concerns (madness, sickness, death) from the daily round, and subsequently compartmentalizing these in expert institutions. In particular, Elliott is concerned to trace the modern tendency towards the denial of death, the repression of an awareness of human mortality in maintaining modernist fantasies of mastery and control. Here celebrity plays a part in these processes of sequestration, most notably through association with the plenitude of 10

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mass-​media representations of (especially violent) deaths in a standardized repetitive form. This is what Elliott refers to as rationalization through trivialization, or through the age-​and-​death-​ defying figure of celebrity as eternally youthful (see Chapter 20). The result, Elliott argues, is a depletion of the personal resources through which modern men and women might make sense of death and all it entails when, as they inevitably must, they encounter it face-​to-​face. This situation is raised to the second power, says Elliott, when the harrowing realities of death include the violence and excruciations of murder, and especially so where the ‘dead body’ under the cultural microscope is that of megacelebrity John Lennon. The profound sense of collective and personal loss prompted by Lennon’s death was registered in many ways.Yet this death of celebrity, Elliott maintains, could not be contained by ideologically dominant and coherent mass-​mediated forms of cultural remembering. In part, this was because of the cultural ambivalence surrounding Lennon himself (at once idealized and denigrated), but also, importantly, because of the legion of individual “specific psychic investments –​of identification, idealization and love –​which have their own internal coherence and organisation”. A noticeable, and notable, feature of Elliott’s analysis is that the presence of Lennon ‘the individual’ is never eclipsed by Lennon ‘the institution’, or icon. This is by no means the only instance of this in the field –​in the Handbook various contributors underscore the authenticity of celebrity, even in the wider context of a degraded and degrading culture of advanced capitalism. Even so, far less attention has been paid to the person of the celebrated in celebrity studies –​to the skills, talents, accomplishments, flaws and failures of celebrities –​than has been the case for fans, audiences and the like. In Marilyn Monroe: The body in the library, McCann (1988) attributes this neglect to the tendency, as a sort of trained reflex, for social and cultural analysis to refer the real person to the institutions within which their biography is enacted, resulting in their being reduced to a type. There are strong affinities here with criticisms of the “practised indifference” and distancing of inquiry from direct contact with specific cultural objects that has been identified as problematic in the sociologies of art and literature (Wagner-​Pacifici 2010). It cannot, however, be our purpose to pursue this much further here. A second reason we might put forward to account for this neglect is that the term celebrity has, regardless of the values that may accrue to it within popular culture or the economics of attention, struggled to shuck off the pejorative connotations of shallowness, superficiality and the like that seem to dominate scholarly discussion.While by no means originating in Boorstin’s hero-​celebrity distinction, this has certainly set the mood of much of scholarly discussion. And, as van Krieken (Chapter 2) points out, this mood was inadvertently aided by Braudy’s (1986) decision to frame his ground-​breaking historical analysis in terms of fame –​leading subsequent observers to cast fame as the pre-​history of celebrity. Hence the highly problematic, yet widely and tenaciously held view of the history of celebrity as a linear movement from “achievement-​ based fame to media-​driven renown” (Cashmore 2006: 7). As van Krieken (2012: 5–​8) demonstrates, the history of celebrity itself provides at best only qualified support for this view. Not only can Boorstin’s heroes (there are no heroines in his account) be seen to be availing themselves of what we would now refer to as public relations to communicate their merit and achievement (the unsung hero is precisely that, unsung), but also genuine talents, skills and achievements do not seem to have lost their powers to attract attention over time –​although this varies according to the particular features and demands of given social domains. Celebrity, van Krieken concludes, incorporates a combination of both achievement and talent, plus the “ ‘surplus value’ of celebrity –​that is the independent value of well-​knownness” (2012: 7) –​although we would be more inclined to represent this in terms of intersecting axes on a multiaxial system rather than van Krieken’s spectrum or continuum. 11

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A concern with the particular characteristics and features found within specific domains of social life is now emerging as an important analytic addition, providing texture and nuance, to studies of ‘celebritisation’ (Driessens 2013b) –​the fast-​g rowing subfield of celebrity studies that tracks the meta-​process by which celebrity, as an institution, diversifies and migrates, becoming an obvious organizing force across a range of social domains:  science (Franck 2002), CEOs (Littler 2007), Literature and Art (Braun and Spiers 2016; Marcus 2015) and Politics (Pels and Corner 2003; Street 2004), among others. It is certainly accurate to describe this celebritization process as the ‘colonization’ of ever greater tracts of social life by an ostensibly homogeneous, linear and irresistible historical logic  –​but this only takes our understanding so far. Couldry (2015), for instance, is quite right to suggest that Bourdieu’s notion of meta-​capital, developed through reference to the state, is applicable to the way celebrity organizes, and in the process gets socially and culturally embedded within, more and more social domains. Here celebrity culture constitutes a powerful and specific instance of media meta-​capital; “that is, it has the power to influence the rules of the game in those fields and specifically shape what counts as capital there” (386). Yet the particularities of each given field –​including talents and skills, or ideas about what does or does not count as ‘accomplished’  –​set limits here. Writing on the literary field, for example, Braun and Spiers (2016) have argued that while literary celebrity is indeed a process without which authors would not be widely visible, it is not helpful to collapse the person of the author into the process as if they were “unable to look beyond or have value outside of the system that produces them” (451). C. Lee Harrington (Chapter 8) makes a similar argument for attending to the particularities of specific media forms, claiming that celebrity studies has de-​ emphasized this to its detriment. Harrington is especially concerned about celebrity as it occurs in the case of soap opera stardom. Soap stardom, she observes, is marked by a familiarity that results from regular, almost routinized, viewing –​this offering a clear point of contrast with the ‘distance’ normally associated with film stardom. More, soap stars are professionals for whom acting is a regular day-​in, day-​out job. As such the familiarity of the soap star is hedged about by their association with an on-​screen character, their celebrity remaining subordinate to storylines. Because of the unique qualities of the genre of soap opera, the study of soap stardom, Harrington suggests, makes a number of useful additions to the celebrity studies research agenda: the opportunity to explore ageing on screen (and the soap as “an unexpected cultural resource for negotiating the varied meanings of ageing”); the opportunity to study the loss of fame given the declining fortunes of the genre (albeit with significant national variations); or, the study of celebrity (or life) itself as soap opera. Nor, we might add, is it helpful to ignore the contributions that historical developments endogenous to any specific domain may feed back into, shape and contour the more general historical process of celebritization. Yves Citton (2017) has, for example, described a constellation of distinct yet parallel transformations occurring in nineteenth-​century Europe that, taken ensemble, were generative of conditions of sensory experience conducive to, if not constituent of, what is now understood, in celebrity studies and beyond, as the attention economy. These include: the development of assembly-​line methods of production, requiring a specific type of attention from workers; the emergence of advertising and marketing as a significant feature of consumption; the emergence of an ‘experimental psychology of attention’ accompanying the “tensions and reconfigurations” of attentive capacities resulting from the evolution of capitalism (and, we would add, following Simmel, the sensory experience of metropolitan life); the invention and deployment of new media (telegraph, the first attempts at radio broadcast and cinema); and the way entire tracts of nineteenth-​century pictorial art, ranging from the Impressionists to Cezanne, “staged either figures or ways of seeing 12

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that were characterised by unresolved discrepancies and tensions between attention and distraction” (12). Citton is concerned to establish that the origins of the attention economy can be found well before the advent of the digital technologies that it is routinely associated with. But he is also keen to reframe the debate in ways that move beyond an economy of attention, and towards an ecology of attention. This is in part an intellectual strategy, allowing him to break with conventional individualistic, economic understandings of attention and, by way of an understanding of attention as a collective phenomenon, point up the circular relation between processes of attending and valorization. It is also a reflection of the realities of the contemporary world in which the affordances of digital technologies are generating profound transformations, with significant implications for understanding celebrity culture in the future. Citton includes here the ‘electrification’ and reconfiguration of collective attention, along with impacts on the human sensorium accompanying the development of a planetary mediascape. We would add –​in keeping with the ensemble of features noted above –​changes in the organization of work so that workers (and their bodies) “are constantly attentive, constantly attuned to the vagaries of the event” (Thrift 2005: 6); the sheer ubiquity of ‘the brand’ (Lury 2009); and shifting aesthetic practices, be this the reversal of figure and ground in the work of Duchamp and Warhol (Lanham 1997), or the displacement of representation by presentation as instanced in Marina Abramović’s performance The Artist is Present (Marcus 2015). Framed in this way the ongoing historical movement of celebrity would appear to be more consistent with an ever-​shifting configuration of relatively discrete elements than any linear and irreversible historical trajectory. Looking towards celebrity futures, current reconfigurations can be seen as distributing celebrity culture in complex, often contradictory ways across the vast expanses of the globe, whilst at the same time penetrating ever more deeply into the grain of everyday life and the self.

Celebrity in the frame of globalization, or the cultural logics of fame Celebrity has gone global, and as never before. In our hi-​tech, media-​saturated age, the global dimensions of celebrity became most apparently obvious during the funeral service for Diana, Princess of Wales, in late 1997. The scene was Westminster Abbey, which provided a dramatic illustration of the extent to which our world and our lives are being moulded by the force of globalization. For it was estimated that the funeral was viewed by over 2.5 billion people, relayed in more than 50 languages across the world. On top of that was the global commercialization of Princess Diana’s memory. To begin with, publishing houses were not slow to capitalize on the tragedy. In the immediate aftermath of her death, Simon and Schuster reprinted 500,000 copies of Andrew Morton’s Diana: Her True Story, as well as 250,000 copies of his sequel Diana: Her New Life. The US publisher Signet rushed out reprints of the paperbacks Diana vs Charles: A Royal Blood Feud and Princess in Love. Then there were a host of media tributes to the memory of Diana (some financial proceeds of which were directed to the Princess of Wales Memorial Fund). The BBC released a 60-​minute video, entitled Diana –​ A Celebration 1961–​1997. Elton John’s record company released the revised version of Candle in the Wind, which he performed live at her funeral. In short, the worldwide commercial frenzy for all things Princess Diana, the legacy of which continues to this day, was a heady mix of celebrity, death and globalization. To speak of global celebrity is to refer to both the institutional and cultural impacts of globalization.The discourse of globalization has, over recent decades, become a central organizing category in academic disciplines from cultural studies to sociology, and from media studies to film studies. Some argue that the globalization debate is too abstract to adequately illuminate the phenomenon of celebrity. Talk of “borderless worlds”, “turbo capitalism” and “transgovernmental 13

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networks” in globalization studies, on this view, is more about the economy than it is about culture and celebrity. Others contend that globalization is now invoked to describe so many things –​from the war on terrorism to climate change –​that the concept is in danger of losing all meaning.Therefore, why inject the discourse of globalization into celebrity studies? Certainly, globalization as a social theory captures something about the ways the world in which we live is now continuously changing, hence the preoccupation in theories of globalization with forces of state power, governance, historical dynamics and socio-​economic transformation.Yet globalization as a concept involves considerably more than large-​scale institutional change alone. If globalization is about finance, economic markets and transnational political forums such as the UN and the EU, it also goes all the way down into the fabric of our daily lives and the texture of everyday culture. This includes popular culture. Thus, the whole language of globalization has loomed large in recent discussions of the digital revolution, social media, new information technologies, consumerism, identity, sexuality and much else. Needless to say, celebrity is another realm of social and cultural life also reconfigured through the prism of globalization. Globalization has been defined by Anthony Giddens (2011) as a “runaway world”. Some critics argue that this acceleration and deepening of worldwide interconnectedness sprang up directly from the collapse of Soviet communism and the end of the Cold War in 1989. Other analysts see the rise of universal consumerism as responsible. Still others identify new information technologies as crucial. Whatever the exact cause of this intensification of planetary interconnectedness, celebrity culture has been part and parcel of these very globalizing processes, with traditional conceptions of time and space brought undone with the ever-​increasing, extensive and intensive dissemination of celebrity lifestyles unfolding across the polished, expensive cities of the West and beyond. As we say, very few today think about globalization in only economic terms. It has become increasingly evident that the impact of globalization is plainly not limited to economic actions and decisions alone, and that various cultural, social, political and personal aspects of day-​to-​day life are inextricably caught up in this diffusion of the global. In all of this, celebrity culture occupies a central position. But what, exactly, are the interconnections between celebrity culture and globalization? For one thing, celebrity culture and transnational conglomerates are increasingly interlinked. Thanks to today’s vast global flows of information, imagery and identity, the icons of popular culture are legion. McDonalds, Coke, Nokia, Apple, Gucci, Nike: these are just a few of the transnational companies advancing global products and brands in and through which people’s identities are remade and transformed in the context of an intensive consumerism and driven by celebrity culture. Sociological studies have devoted much attention to the rise of global digital media in terms of addressing the huge expansion in information diffusion and advertising of consumer goods and other cultural products. In these diverse studies, people’s identities and experience of everyday life are understood as marked irrevocably by the emergence of global communication networks and new information technologies. The sheer scale, intensity and speed of mass communication and media technology emerge, in this viewpoint, as an unprecedented feature of global society. In historical terms it is, of course, the case that people have, by and large, lived out their daily lives in a web of local cultures –​consisting largely of set routines and local interactions structured along national and territorial lines. In an age of so-​called global mass culture, such cultural fixity well and truly fragments; the more the global spread of communication networks and digital networks unfolds, the denser and more complex become patterns of cultural life, including the production and reproduction of celebrity. In the past few decades, major transformations have occurred within the media industries, all of which are central to the production, reproduction and transformation of celebrity. The spread of communication infrastructures –​radio, television, the internet, social media, satellite 14

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and digital technologies –​has made instant communication across the globe a daily reality for many. Such transformations in communication stem from the early 1970s, when the first telecommunication satellites were positioned in geosynchronous orbits, thus allowing for the emergence of virtually instantaneous electronic communication between individuals, institutions, societies and cultures. These and related new technologies have, in turn, spelt a shift away from national controls over media information and towards a global market in which information cuts through and across geo-​political boundaries. Also striking about today’s media globalization is that it is largely driven by corporate interests: the producers and distributors of contemporary global media encompass about twenty multinational corporations, from TimeWarner to Rupert Murdoch’s News International. But this is not to say, absurdly, that celebrity is simply an outcrop of global capitalism writ large. On the contrary, many critics have sought to pitch cultures of fame and the celebrated in direct opposition to what they view as the corrosive forces of advanced capitalism. Consider, for example, the counter-​cultural 1960s, to take perhaps the most poignant illustration from popular music. The opposition between art and commerce is a defining feature of pop music’s mythic status, one fully permeated by romantic ideology, by a faith in the possibility of authentic art.The Beatles, the Stones, Dylan and the Doors were never simply performers but artists. “Break on through to the other side” sang Jim Morrison, an injunction the self-​conscious youth movement used to question the banal realities of commerce and debunk the capitalist establishment. In this powerfully romantic aesthetic, pop stars were the rebels, the heroines and heroes, of a degraded and degrading culture: the only remaining champions of imagination, desire, passion, intuition. Such a standpoint underscores the relative autonomy of celebrity in the wider context of economic, social and political forces. On this view, pop stars do not stand still in the sky (see Kelly and McDonnell 1999). At its best, such an approach facilitates analysis of our core pop culture myths –​sex, drugs and rock’n’roll –​through the complex rubrics of artistry, talent, rebellion, desire, imagination, memory and loss. From the vantage point of twenty-​first-​century cultures of social media and network societies, however, the notion of celebrity as a realm of relative autonomy from capitalist commodification looks distinctly dated. How strange, indeed how mythical, the dreams of the counterculture now look. Musicians might have broken through to another side, but it transpires that capitalism was already there and waiting. The link between music and money has today been raised to the nth degree. When all this started is hard to specify. Certainly, from the late 1990s Tommy Hilfiger sponsored concert tours of the major artists –​the Stones, Jewel, Lenny Kravitz. Calvin Klein started selling jeans by using pop stars, not supermodels. Giorgio Armani sells perfume through the global diffusion of images of stars such as Cate Blanchett and Nicole Kidman. There have been intricate connections between the marketing of pop music and the marketing of household goods, from U2’s PopMart tour to PC Music. And at the level of self-​parody, Arcade Fire have published fake reviews of their music, underscoring the excesses of our age of global infotainment. Celebrity, just like everything else it seems, is something to be marketed, manufactured, hyped. Small wonder, then, that high-​profile celebrity political activism or intervention in support of various humanitarian causes –​that which Rojek (2014) refers to as ‘celanthropy’ –​tends to provoke a considerable measure of cynicism in both popular discourse and scholarly debate. Following influential analyses by John Corner and Dick Pels, Mark Wheeler (Chapter  19) contends that the proliferation of celebrity philanthropy in the contemporary era is best understood as a response to a post-​ideological political context in which publics are “less likely to identify with traditional forms of international politics and diplomacy … (favouring) … ‘more eclectic, fluid, issue specific and personality-​bound forms of political recognition and 15

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engagement’ ”. Here the celebrity is seen to have acquired, through their mediated persona, the requisite credibility, authenticity and sympathy to effect political expression. To their detractors these celebrity interventions work, at the very least, to trivialize or ‘crudify’ pressing issues and, worse, reinforce global stereotypes of ‘passive Southern victimhood’, with the West still bearing the white man’s burden. Or they give rise to forms of ‘compassionate consumption’ that at their basest entail “selling the poor for a profit in the global marketplace”. Leading counterarguments include pointing up the consciousness-​raising value celebrities bring to specific international campaigns, or the way celebrities may facilitate processes of democratization in international affairs through creating new political spaces that finesse the disconnection that has opened between professional diplomatic elites and the public. Seeking a way beyond these hardened ‘help-​or-​hurt’ polarities, Wheeler suggests reorienting research around questions about why celebrities engage in these activities, or align with particular institutions, as well as who gains what from these arrangements. It remains the complexity of the culture of celebrity as mixed and matched with the whole new economic landscape of hi-​tech globalization which scholars in the field of celebrity studies seek to track and trace. Again, popular music is an instructive example. If large-​scale corporations have been the acknowledged legislators of the music industry, then it can be said that a whole range of previously marginalized styles and genres –​from “lo fi ” to alternative country –​have been colonized for consumption and profit. The corporate mainstream of music, as Lawrence Grossberg has argued, underwrites the cultural logic of the Top 40 –​the totality of which no one likes but that, given the lack of alternatives, many people listen to. That said, how might these corporate dimensions between the music industry, artists and the listening public be transfigured by our age of social media? How might transformations in popular music culture be analysed in the age of Spotify and YouTube? Nowhere has the commercial transformation of celebrity been perhaps more obvious in recent years than in the rise of digital music streaming. In a remarkably short space of time, Spotify has become the second-​largest source of digital music revenue for record labels across Europe, according to the International Federation of the Phonographic Industry. But note that’s record labels, and not artists, musicians or composers. Radiohead frontman Thom Yorke underscored this when he pulled his solo releases from Spotify, arguing that digital streaming is destroying the livelihood of artists across the creative industries. British singer-​songwriter Lloyd Cole, of Commotions fame, stated the problem most plainly in an interview in Australia, commenting that “in the age of Spotify albums are more of a vanity project”. One recent estimate is that Spotify pays a majestic $0.007 per stream. That translates to 7c for every 1000 streams. Cole’s conclusion is that this is “barely enough to merit making an album at all”. UK indie artist Sam Duckworth wrote in The Guardian that 4,685 streams on Spotify netted him only $32.57 –​the equal of selling two CDs at one of his gigs. Perhaps this might help to explain why so many emerging artists feel distressed. Perhaps it also explains why a number of established artists –​from Brian Eno to Beyoncé –​are limiting their exposure on Spotify to sample tracks only. What it does certainly explain is that artists no longer sell but stream their work. And they do so for far less money than ever before. The entire enterprise looks insanely self-​defeating. At this point, we should stress that this is not a lament for some by-​gone age of pop artistry.The global innovations of digital culture are here to stay, and are surely irreversible. Australian ARIA chief executive Dan Rosen has argued that Spotify adds to consumer choice, expanding the range of options for consumers to access music. From one angle, this is surely right. Online streaming services can now be added to digital downloads, free online music and other multimedia options. But the point is these developments are not feasible for artists and musicians on the ground. In the age of Spotify, artistry is literally under fire. In our present popular culture of streaming –​where the consumer 16

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can discard, delete and disconnect at the push of a button –​artistry is becoming recast as purely episodic. The artistic worth of music today is undergoing liquefication. It is against this backcloth, in the current age of social media and the digital revolution, that we would arguably do well to recall Horkheimer and Adorno’s assertion that the star is, at base, a commodity, something produced by a culture industry solely for the purpose of sale in the marketplaces of the cultural economy, or, equally, to recall Boorstin’s arguments about the primary quality of the celebrity, as ‘human pseudo-​event’ being a commercially contrived capacity to generate attention. It is, for example, precisely the media manipulations of global corporate capitalism that media studies scholar Henry Giroux took up and explored in his acclaimed work The Mouse That Roared (1999). Giroux’s central claim was that the Disney Corporation, while hiding behind a cloak of childhood innocence, has turned American culture into a giant toy store. Examining the connections between media conglomerates and the flattening out of American popular culture, Giroux argued that corporate Disney barons have squeezed progressive social values to the sidelines in shaping children’s culture and wider engagement with the public sphere. For the young fan of Mickey Mouse or Donald Duck, this is clearly bad news –​ though the issue of how many people outside of cultural and media studies will be overly troubled with Giroux’s Marxist rewriting of Disney’s utopia is an open question. For students of celebrity studies and cultural studies, there is perhaps something too reductive in Giroux’s claim that Disney culture entirely stamps out critical forms of self-​understanding and social engagement. This is one powerful reason why we need to consider that it may no longer be feasible to speak of  ‘The Culture Industry’ in monolithic terms. Put simply, the commercial machinery for producing celebrity occupies only one part of the picture, quite distinct from yet closely interconnected with the media as another part, while the wider expanses of the ‘attention economy’ or ‘attention ecology’ can be considered a further discrete yet also closely interconnected component part. Each of these social, cultural and economic fields develops in ways that can be best described and explained by way of horizontal rather than vertical framings. This can be demonstrated most clearly with respect to the machinery of celebrity production and reproduction. In a manner consistent with observations of a more general process of transition from the vertically integrated organizational structures of Fordist mass production to the loosely coupled horizontal structures of post-​Fordist flexible production, it is possible to sketch out a process whereby the “assembly line” of celebrity (Gamson 1992, 1994) becomes disaggregated and differentiated to a point where it is more accurate to talk about “assemblages” (Lury 2009). Gamson, for instance, describes the process of vertical disintegration through which the publicity apparatuses once embedded within the big Hollywood studios (permitting a significant measure of studio control over both stars and the ‘cult of personality’) are separated out –​in large part as a result of rulings of the US Supreme Court in the late 1940s and early 1950s that effectively broke up the studios’ monopoly of production, distribution and exhibition. As a result we have witnessed the subsequent evolution of these apparatuses from what were effectively one-​dimensional press agencies to a highly diversified industrial sector linked with a diverse range of other commercial activities –​entertainment, representation, publicity, communications, coaching, legal/​accounting, appearance, endorsement and sundry ‘celebrity services’ (Rein et al. 1997: 42–​58). We can also look to the diversification of the media, especially that occasioned by new digital technologies and social media, and follow this, as we do in the final section of this Introduction, to the emergence of a new model of consumption based on ‘the platform’ (Gillespie 2010), and, beyond this, to the new phenomenon of the DIY celebrity. Still, as Philip Drake (Chapter 18) cautions, while these developments and others –​the emergence of the freelancing film star with their own production company, for example (see also 17

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King, Chapter 5) –​certainly speak to the existence of a culture industry that is far more complex and complicated than that envisaged by Adorno and Horkheimer, it would be unwise to ignore those structural aspects that provide the political economy of celebrity with a significant measure of systematic coherence. These include the “interlocking nature of the media, promotional and marketing industries” and the ways celebrity, as a form of currency or ‘reputational capital’, circulates across media, increasing or decreasing in value according to “an individual’s performance in the business, critical and commercial reception as well as their embeddedness within key industrial, institutional and social networks”. Beyond this Drake points out the importance of intellectual property rights to underwriting and regulating the system of reputational capital that allows celebrities to ‘propertize’ themselves and, accordingly, capture their market power. For many critics, the rise of global communication systems has gone hand in hand with the erosion of national culture. The massive cultural flows of electronic media globalization, on this view, fragment the power of national identity and territorial axes of identity more generally. There are various political anxieties at work here. Some critics worry about the threat that unrestricted global media pose to the workings of democracy. Edward Herman and Robert McChesney (1997), for example, point to the dangers of commercialized media dominated by global corporations in which entertainment triumphs over political debate and civic participation. Other critics, whilst still concerned with commercialization and the power of transnational corporations, are more concerned with the structural changes associated with media globalization. According to these critics, the global media are little more than the purveyors of a new cultural uniformity. This is, in short, the thesis of global cultural imperialism –​in which the media function to implant American values and ideologies in less developed countries.We can critically engage this thesis from a number of angles. First, to speak of celebrity in the age of global communications networks, Driessens (Chapter 16) suggests, is to engage with a range of meanings that jostle and co-​mingle in various complementary and contradictory ways.We might, for instance, speak of: (1) celebrity as a commodity consumed in every corner of the world as a major consequence of an all-​encompassing global media culture; (2) the global celebrity, the (rare) celebrated individual who attains universal recognition; (3) the ‘imperialist’ global celebrity culture, serving as a sort of Trojan Horse smuggling commodity-​driven, individualistic Western values into hitherto innocent national-​ cultural settings; or, (4) celebrity as a heterogeneous phenomenon, involving distinct yet strongly interconnected regional, national and supranational celebrity cultures. However, discussions of global celebrity that do not venture very far beyond this range of meanings risk missing, Driessens argues, changes in celebrity that accompany the digitalization of information and communication systems, most notably those associated with the emergence of new platforms enabling the building and circulation of online personas. These platforms both allow established celebrities far greater control over the presentation of their public selves, and change the ‘entry gates’ of celebrity, placing the means of producing and distributing media content within the reach of ordinary people (see also Jerslev and Mortensen, Chapter 10). Driessens does, however, caution against any premature declarations about this representing the demise of the commercial cultural intermediaries that have been an integral component of celebrity culture for many years. He notes, for example, how the online Multi-​Network Channel industry is not only moving to contract promising new content providers, but is also providing professional advice on matters such as the best way to nurture parasocial relations with subscribers. More important, from the perspective of the globalization of celebrity, these developments require researchers to attend closely to the variety of cultural flows of celebrity, including those occurring both within and between supra-​national and regional media cultures. Here, Driessens suggests, it might be more productive to dispense with territorial understandings of the ‘local’ (in contradistinction 18

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to an extraterritorial ‘global’) and consider instead specific “collectives of sense-​making practices whose main resources of meaning are celebrity”. In this way the celebrity cultures of groups or regions sharing histories and/​or language, sporting or political affiliations or affinities with subcultural genres may be incorporated more fully into discussions of the globalization of celebrity. Second, whilst many worry about the Westernization or Americanization of communication networks today, there is considerable sociological evidence to suggest that the picture remains more complex, perhaps even puzzling. According to critics of the cultural imperialism thesis, for example, the globalization of communication does not, in fact, spell the globalization of culture. Nor the globalization of celebrity. Globalization, it is argued, does not have any single one consequence. Notwithstanding the growing corporate control of communication networks today, as social theorist John B. Thompson argues in his book The Media and Modernity (1995), media messages are continually interpreted in novel ways by national audiences. Whether watching American serials like The Sopranos or Six Feet Under in Asia, listening to hip-​hop in China, or surfing the Net in Lagos, there are a multiplicity of background assumptions, discourses, norms, values and ideologies through which people make sense of media messages and products. This, according to Thompson, would suggest that cultural diversification is hardly at an end with the advent of globalization. According to another study by media theorist John Tomlinson (1991), imported media products are always locally interpreted and transformed in the process of such local readings.This is not to deny that cultural imperialism poses significant risks to various local cultures. It is rather to assert that new global communication systems create ‘hybrid cultures’; electronic media globalization, as Stuart Hall has suggested, can have a ‘pluralizing impact’ on identities. The emphasis here is on the word can; the task of future social theory is to critically probe and interrogate the social conditions through which global media can both enhance and undermine national cultures and national identities. It is precisely this kind of interrogation that is performed by a number of contributors to the Handbook. Picking up on the debates on celanthropy discussed above, Elaine Jeffries (Chapter 15) argues that while many of the criticisms of celebrity philanthropy do provide a timely antidote to more laudatory accounts, they tend themselves to be homogenizing –​reducing the motives for celebrity activism to a singular, negative (self-​serving) narrative –​and Western-​centric. She underscores this point through reference to the People’s Republic of China, where a commercial celebrity culture and philanthropic sector have really only emerged in the aftermath of the market-​based reforms of the late 1970s. Here the philanthropy scandal associated with the film star Zhang Ziyi, and the successful environmental activism by the basketball star Yao Ming, demonstrate that in practice the workings of celebrity philanthropy are for more complex than the critics of celanthropy suggest. In particular: It can inspire ‘ordinary’ citizens to be philanthropic or to insist that the wealthy and famous have extra social obligations. It can also politicize individual consumer choices in the context of a country marked by concerns over government corruption (and environmental degradation). What is required, Jeffries argues, is a more extensive range of empirically informed analyses of the ways different types of celebrity philanthropist, and different forms of celebrity philanthropy, work within different social and cultural contexts. Pramod Nayar (Chapter 11) explores the way the massive Bollywood celebrity ecology, along with its strong links with larger Indian social and cultural imaginaries, has shaped identifiably Indian forms of celebrification, including those that have fed into radical programmes of cultural, political and subsequently legal action. In particular certain features of Indian cinema, most 19

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notably a darshanic visual rhetoric that imparts a quasi-​divine aspect to film stars, and Bollywood’s narrative debt to Hindu epic battles between good and evil, have created conditions conducive to a blurring of on-​screen and off-​screen roles, and the subsequent movement of Bollywood celebrities into high-​profile public-​political roles.While Hindi cinema has often worked to reproduce traditionalist understandings of gender, caste or nation it has also, Nayar argues, challenged these. He is especially interested in a relatively recent shift towards empowered women roles, “often independent of male support and in the face of systemic resistance”. Women’s empowerment, he contends, has now emerged in India as a ‘cele-​meme’, a “replicable cultural idea or belief, transmissible across populations and functioning as a cultural contagion”. And while this development certainly encompasses films that explicitly reference women’s agency and choice, some of the most powerful instances of this cele-​meme of women’s empowerment in Hindi cinema are those where the filmmaker has taken the real-​life story of victims, women who have been violently denied agency and choice. Here, Nayar argues, what is central to the celebrification of the victim is the wider agency –​the collective mobilizations, protests, campaigns for social and cultural change, legislative reform and so forth –​that gather around the celebrity victim. “When examining contemporary Japan”, writes Patrick Galbraith (Chapter 13), one cannot help but be struck by the prevalence of “idols” (aidoru). These are young, typically teen, women and men who, in a highly produced and promoted fashion, perform across media platforms and performance genres (singing, dancing, acting and modelling), but whose primary talent is ‘idoling’: holding the attention of fans, as well as building and maintaining relationships to shape desires (and purchasing behaviour).They are, therefore, significant elements of the Japanese affective economy. Aidoru emerged as a significant popular cultural phenomenon in the 1970s, and experienced a resurgence with the rise of J-​pop in the 1990s, both nationally and subsequently across East and Southeast Asia, though not without controversy or contradiction. And it is with respect to these controversies and contradictions that, Galbraith maintains, idols “open a window on to the national and international politics of celebrity”. They have, for instance, been at the centre of Japan’s ‘return to Asia’, the soft diplomacy that took place under the head of ‘Cool Japan’, and which ultimately resulted in fierce nationalist rivalries with the rise of idol cultures elsewhere (notably South Korea), especially given the not always welcome reverse flow of idol media into Japan. Aidoru are at once too Japanese, encountering limits in terms of language as well as the uniqueness of Japanese transmedia and cross-​genre performance and promotion platforms, yet insufficiently Japanese; as Koichi Iwabuchi puts it, ‘culturally odourless’, stripped, as a part of the globalizing process, of those features  –​including bodily, racial and ethnic characteristics –​that mark them as Japanese. Or, in a different way again, too Japanese and because of this at the centre of a global politics of cultural stereotypes –​what is conceived as cute in Japan (ribbons, frills, exaggerated buttons, bright colours, plaid skirts) is often received elsewhere as “strange, and perhaps a little weird”, or, in a particularly caustic ‘neo-​Orientalist’ mood (as occurred in connection with the all-​female AKB48), a normalized sexual exploitation of children. Joanna Elfving-​Hwang (Chapter  12) also picks up on the idol phenomenon in East and Southeast Asia, in particular in the context of the South Korean mediascape and with respect to the popular cultural phenomenon of K-​pop that emerged in the 1990s (contemporaneous with the revival of aidoru in Japan).Where Galbraith moves ‘outwards’ to the national and international politics of celebrity, Elfving-​Hwang, in contrast, directs her attention to the processes of identification and affective parasocial relationships entailed in the South Korean case. And she does so in ways that provide a measure of balance to the overwhelmingly negative, if familiar, mood of South Korean celebrity studies: the celebrity idol as a commodity produced solely for consumption (and the benefit of the patriarchal gaze); celebrity as a symptom of cultural decline; and 20

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celebrity as a source of deleterious social impact, to wit, “extreme cosmetic surgery makeovers and unattainable body image … [and] … reports of so-​called ‘copy-​cat suicides’ following celebrity suicides”. While it is certainly the case, she contends, that the South Korean “idol manufacturing and management system” does exploit parasocial relationships to build loyal customer bases, it is important to not overlook the way idol-​fan relationships are made sense of within South Korean familial structures, and in particular the positioning of the idol as an “older sibling” and “parasocial kin”. Here the celebrity is seen to embody upward social mobility and “access to fan groups off and online … that provides group identification and sense of belonging in the increasingly fragmented and competitive social world of teenagers”. More, the moral panic that surrounds the use of plastic surgery to emulate ‘idol appearance’ needs, Elfving-​Hwang argues, to be understood within the context of wider South Korean discourses pertaining to body and self-​presentation. Writing on celebrity cultures in South America Nahuel Ribke (Chapter 14) engages with the complexities and complications that arise when taking a regional, rather than national, frame of reference. South America, he asserts, is far from homogeneous, with sharp social, political, economic and cultural contrasts existing between and within constituent national contexts. Nevertheless South American celebrity cultures can be seen to possess a number of distinctive features in common, these shaped by similar historical patterns including an “abrupt and traumatic encounter between archaic traditions and structures and a modern (dependent) capitalist mode of production”, unstable economic development, violent urbanism and a “massive exposure of popular classes to commercial mass media contents”. This has led, Ribke contends, to an enduring close connection between celebrity and the shifting contours of power in the region. Thus, in an earlier period, the careers of the first pan-​Latin American mass media stars Carmen Miranda (the ‘Brazilian Bombshell’) and Carlos Gardel (the ‘Criole Thrush’) are seen as poised between the dominant defining tensions of their place and times;“between old rural elites and urban immigrants, national and foreign culture, high and popular culture, modernity and archaic traditions … (and) … Europe and the Americas”. Whilst Miranda and Gardel galvanized more unified national and regional consciousnesses, drawing upon previously marginal cultural forms (samba and tango), this was complicated, if not compromised in many ways, by their strong associations with Hollywood. In a second period we find the emergence of new local celebrity cultures centred on popular music programming on the now dominant medium of (state-​ owned) TV, yet riven with tensions (including, resistance, violent repression and exile) resulting from left-​right political affinities and affiliations in a context where right-​wing authoritarian regimes held power across the region. Finally, the most recent period is notable for the passage of celebrity, and celebrities, into politics, in many ways reflecting the increasing role played by the (now privately owned) media in politics in a context marked by a restoration of democracy and economic crises.

Celebrity culture, self-​identity and reinvention We have already noted that celebrity is not only about media conglomerates, processes of cultural diffusion and social institutions, but also about everyday life –​of our lives and our selves in these times. But how does celebrity culture come to infuse the everyday, and how does it penetrate to the core of the self, culture and consumerism? One popular answer, in both the academy and broader public debate, is that a cultural obsession with celebrity is a direct product of the expansion of the mass media and everyday life in the digital age. In an entertainment culture of manufactured hype and planned novelties, celebrities project an image of life beyond the routines of the everyday and thus one that is tantalizingly transgressive. You are what you 21

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watch. This has long been true of media culture. In a globalizing hi-​tech world, it is doubly so. Media culture, including social media, constructs or shapes the world, reduces it, traduces it and packages it –​at once generating the popular hunger for fame and disseminating scraps of information about the famous. The emergence of social media, argue Anne Jerslev and Mette Mortensen (Chapter 10), has initiated some transformations in celebrity that are as profound as those previously precipitated by television. Working out from the classic theoretical studies by Goffman, and their subsequent adaptation by Meyrowitz, Jerslev and Mortensen maintain that social media are dramatically shifting the boundaries between the public and private, and that this is disclosing the ways that celebrity is very much a performative practice. Social media are presentational rather than representational media, and new genres, such as “celebrity selfies, snaps and 140-​character exclamations”, and the platforms that support these  –​Instagram or Twitter  –​provide myriad options for celebrities to go “publicly private”. That is, they enable celebrities to (seem to) present themselves directly  –​with ‘immediacy’, ‘spontaneity’, ‘authenticity’  –​to followers and fans. The boundaries between the public and private, while clearly shifted, and complicated, have definitely not been eliminated. Jerslev and Mortensen note how the celebrity use of social media is often very much part of an elaborate (‘front region’) cross-​media communications strategy, exploiting the affordances of different platforms to highlight different aspects of the celebrity’s everyday life, including ostensibly ‘backstage’ and hence ‘authentic’ moments, in so doing weaving together the various strands of an overarching ‘brand’ narrative. Social media have also generated their own breed of celebrity, the ‘micro-​celebrity’. The ‘micro’ here refers not to audience size but rather non-​ broadcast media channels and circuits (the game vlogger PewDiePie had over 42  million subscribers). It has subsequently evolved to describe a form of online celebrity social practice entailing a commitment to present one’s online self as if one always had an audience, as a brand, with the expectation that others would do so as well. “Celebrities”, writes Chris Rojek (2004:  26), “operate as models for emulation, embody desire and galvanize issues in popular culture, dramatize prejudice, affect public opinion and contribute to identity formation”.The concept of celebrity as a matter of invention and reinvention is one central thread to all of this, as Anthony Elliott makes clear in Chapter 20 on the complex relations between celebrity culture, reinvention and cosmetic surgery. A kind of obsessive self-​creativity hints at the essence of celebrities, who have necessarily reinvented themselves to an extraordinary degree. Sometimes it is the theatre of celebrity which drives such reinvention. Think, for instance, of Madonna’s ever-​new versions of herself –​from virgin queen to sexual provocateur, from material girl to earth mother. But more recently, cosmetic surgery and the makeover industries play an increasingly central role in the reinvention of celebrity bodies, lifestyles, appearances and identities. Just think, for instance, of celebrities such as Meg Ryan, Kelly Rowland, Snooki and Kim Zolciak-​Biermann; these are famous women whose practices of reinvention have fuelled the circuit of media debates centred on the dualism of plastic fantastic or cosmetic catastrophe. Reinvention comes into its own in this context. If fame was about the cultivation of talent, artistry and originality, celebrity embraces instead the inauthentic, performance, pastiche and parody.What powers the careers of celebrities today is change, disjuncture, trauma and transformation. In a world that has less and less time for long-​term commitments and durable relationships, continual reinvention has become a normative part of the field of celebrity. Indeed, how celebrities undertake the reinvention of their private lives has today become a public obsession. From media reports of the drug hell of Amy Winehouse to rumours about Rihanna’s latest super-​fast diet, from gossip about the marriage of Angelina Jolie and Brad Pitt to the alleged drug habits of 22

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Nicole Richie, the stable regimen of magazines such as OK and People concerns transformations in the private lives of public figures. To speak of the fast-​shifting terrain of celebrity may be to speak too hastily, and this is where the injunction to take a wider cultural and historical perspective is significant. Celebrity may look light and liquid when we consider X Factor or Pop Idol, but such ephemerality is hardly the case for, say, Robert De Niro or The Rolling Stones. Thus it might be a mistake to believe that long-​term fame has been completely eclipsed by short-​term celebrity, even if the latter has undeniably made inroads into the former in the era of reinvention society. But perhaps such dualism is misleading. Perhaps like most forms of popular culture, the powers and limits of reinvention are deeply interwoven with the production and marketing of celebrities in a deeper sense too. Consider, for example, Oprah Winfrey –​who, having retired in 2011 from American daytime television after 25 years in the business, could hardly be described as a stopgap celebrity. The high priestess of change-​your-​life TV, Winfrey’s departure from the circuit of celebrity was globally mourned as an exit of a unique, gifted individual. Her retirement was of course surely that, but also –​and perhaps equally interestingly –​a fascinating insight into what our culture values in these early decades of the twenty-​first century. Novelist Ian McEwan has written of daytime confessional TV as “the democrat’s pornography” (1987), and there can be little doubt that Winfrey lifted this art to the second power. In her book Oprah: The Gospel of an Icon (2011),Yale academic Kathryn Lofton writes of Winfrey’s “confessional promiscuity” –​the daytime television talkfest by which people willingly submit to their personal makeovers in front of millions of viewers and from which they adopt new identities. It is the zoning of makeover or reinvention, we suggest, that takes us to the heart of brand “Winfrey”. One of America’s richest women, Oprah is estimated to be worth in excess of $US1.5 billion. Winfrey’s life story –​of a girl who pulled herself up by her own bootstraps and made it on the global media stage  –​is one her audience has enthusiastically embraced in the form of escape from anxiety over getting stuck in the land of nowhere. Winfrey’s key message –​“you can reinvent yourself however you so choose” –​is music to the ears of contemporary women and men seeking to embrace the therapeutic mantra of flexible reinvention.The Winfrey brand, in short, fits hand in glove with today’s pursuit of endless reinvention, continual change, breakneck speed and a short-​termist mentality. Oprah’s change-​your-​life TV dealt this out in spades, and this is obviously one reason her retirement generated such high levels of global media attention. But, significantly, her absence will only be missed temporarily, for our culture of reinvention, serviced by the celebrity preachers of instant therapeutics, is everywhere on the rise. A good deal of celebrity studies has been preoccupied with reworking its interdisciplinary terrain –​critical theory, postmodernism, post-​feminism, post-​humanism –​and developing creative dialogues with the practices of celebrity, fame and renown. This has produced some extraordinarily fertile scholarship. Sometimes, however, the intellectual results have been less than illuminating. In this connection, we conclude by suggesting that it might at times be worth asking whether it is not best to try to forget our preconceptions of what a celebrity should be, and instead look for the “interior form” or “structure of feeling” of what that celebrity represents. It is for this reason that the Handbook concludes (Chapter 21) with an interview with the American actor John Astin, who famously played Gomez Addams in the 1960s American TV comedy The Addams Family. Created by legendary cartoonist Charles Addams in the 1930s for The New Yorker, the figure of Gomez Addams was a remarkable confluence of zaniness, wit, absurdity, narcissism, social conscience, political radicalism and utopic identity.The Great Gomez, beyond the original cartoons, has been subsequently portrayed in television, film and stage, and arguably nowhere more successfully than by John Astin. In the interview with Astin, Elliott seeks 23

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to probe the criss-​crossings, the endless zigzags, of artistry and celebrity. “When did you know that Gomez was going to be great?” Elliott asks, upon which Astin alights onto a series of fascinating reflections between authenticity and commercialism, subjectivity and otherness, the routine and uncanny. The interview brings the Handbook full circle, from the contributions of social theory and cultural analysis to the complexities of fame to the pleasure and perils of life lived on the screen as celebrated. This is indeed food for thought concerning the likely trajectories of celebrity in the decades ahead.

References Adorno,T., and Horkheimer, M. 1944. 1979. Dialectic of Enlightenment.Trans. John Cumming. London: Verso. Berenson, E., and Giloi, E. (eds) 2010. Constructing Charisma: Celebrity, fame, and power in nineteenth-​century Europe. New York: Berghahn Books. Boorstin, D.J. 1962. The Image, or What Happened to the American Dream. Harmondsworth: Penguin. Braudy, L. 1986. The Frenzy of Renown. New York: Oxford Univ. Press. Braun, R., and Spiers, E. 2016. Introduction: re-​viewing literary celebrity. Celebrity Studies, 7(4): 449–​456. Carroll, J. 1993. Humanism: The wreck of Western culture. London: Fontana. Cashmore, E. 2006. Celebrity Culture. London: Routledge. Citton,Y. 2017. The Ecology of Attention. Hoboken, NJ: John Wiley. Couldry, N. 2000. The Place of Media Power: Pilgrims and witnesses of the media age. Hove: Psychology Press. Couldry, N. 2015.Why celebrity studies needs social theory (and vice versa). Celebrity Studies, 6(3): 385–​388. Driessens, O. 2013a. Celebrity capital:  redefining celebrity using field theory. Theory and Society, 42(5): 543–​560. Driessens, O. 2013b. The celebritization of society and culture: Understanding the structural dynamics of celebrity culture. International Journal of Cultural Studies, 16(6): 641–​657. Dyer, R. 1979. Stars. London: British Film Institute. Dyer, R. 1986. Heavenly Bodies: Film stars and society. London: British Film Institute/​Macmillan. Elliott, A. 1999. The Mourning of John Lennon. Berkeley: Univ. of California Press. Franck, G. 2002. The scientific economy of attention:  A novel approach to the collective rationality of science. Scientometrics, 55(1): 3–​26. Gamson, J. 1992. The assembly line of greatness: Celebrity in twentieth-​century America. Critical Studies in Media Communication, 9(1): 1–​24. Gamson, J. 1994. Claims to Fame: Celebrity in contemporary America. Berkeley: Univ. of California Press. Gamson, J. 2001. Normal sins:  Sex scandal narratives as institutional morality tales. Social Problems, 48(2): 185–​205. Giddens, A. 2011. Runaway World. London: Profile Books. Giles, D. 2000. Illusions of Immortality: A psychology of fame and celebrity. London: Macmillan. Giroux, H. 1999. The Mouse that Roared: What Disney teaches. Boulder, CO: Littlefield. Hermann, E., and McChesney, R. 1997. Global Media: The new missionaries of global capitalism. London: Cassel. Jones, S., and Jensen, J. (eds) 2005. Afterlife as Afterimage: Understanding posthumous fame. Bern: Peter Lang. Kelly, K., and McDonnell, E. (eds) 2019. Stars Don’t Stand Still in the Sky: Music and myth. New York: New York Univ. Press. Lanham, R.A. 1997. The economics of attention. Michigan Quarterly Review, 36(2): 270–​284. Lilti, A. 2017. The Invention of Celebrity: 1750–​1850. Trans. C.B. Jeffress. Cambridge: Polity. Littler, J. 2007. Celebrity CEOs and the cultural economy of tabloid intimacy. In S. Holmes and S. Redmond (eds), Stardom and Celebrity: A reader (pp. 230–​243). London: Sage. Lofton, K. 2011. Oprah: The gospel of an icon. Berkeley: Univ. of California Press. Lury, C. 2009. Brand as assemblage: Assembling culture. Journal of Cultural Economy, 2(1–​2): 67–​82. Marcus, S. 2015. Celebrity 2.0: The case of Marina Abramović. Public Culture, 27(1(75)): 21–​52. Marshall, P.D. 1997. Celebrity and Power. Minneapolis: Univ. of Minnesota Press. McCann, G. 1988. Marilyn Monroe: The body in the library. Cambridge: Polity. McCutcheon, L.E., Lowinger, R., Maria,W., and Jenkins,W. 2013. Celebrity worship and religion revisited. Implicit Religion, 16(3): 319–​328. doi:10.1558/​imre.v16i3.319. McEwan, I. 1987. The Child in Time. London: Vintage. Milner, M. 2010. Is celebrity a new kind of status system? Society, 47(5): 379–​387. 24

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Pels, D., and Corner, J. 2003. Introduction: The re-​styling of politics. In J. Corner and D. Pels (eds), Media and the Restyling of Politics: Consumerism, celebrity and cynicism (pp. 1–​18). London: Sage. Rein, I.J., Kotler, P., and Stoller, M. 1997. High Visibility: The making and marketing of professionals and celebrities. Columbus, OH: McGraw-​Hill. Rodman, G.B. 2013. Elvis after Elvis: The posthumous career of a living legend. London: Routledge. Rojek, C. 2001. Celebrity. Hoboken, NJ: John Wiley & Sons. Rojek, C. 2004. Celebrity (4 vols). London: Routledge. Rojek, C. 2014. ‘Big Citizen’ celanthropy and its discontents. International Journal of Cultural Studies, 17(2): 127–​141. Sandvoss, C. 2005. Fandom: The mirror of consumption. Cambridge: Polity. Street, J. 2004. Celebrity politicians: Popular culture and political representation. The British Journal of Politics and International Relations, 6(4): 435–​452. Thompson, J.B. 1995. The Media and Modernity. Cambridge: Polity. Thrift, N. 2005. Knowing Capitalism. London: Sage. Tomlinson, J. 1991. Cultural Imperialism. Hoboken, NJ: John Wiley & Sons, Ltd. Turner, G. 2004. Understanding Celebrity. London: Sage. Turner, G. 2010. Ordinary People and the Media: The demotic turn. London: Sage. Van Krieken, R. 2012. Celebrity Society. London: Routledge. Wagner-​Pacifici, R. 2010.The cultural sociological experience of cultural objects. In J.R. Hall, L. Grindstaff and M.C. Lo (eds), 2010. Handbook of Cultural Sociology. London: Routledge. Ward, P. 2011. Gods Behaving Badly: Media, religion, and celebrity culture. Waco, TX: Baylor Univ. Press.

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2 Celebrity’s histories Robert van Krieken

Introduction A central feature of the cultural power and salience of celebrity is a sense of uniqueness and novelty, arising from the claim to be unprecedented, to stand so far out from the crowd that the question of precedents is simply unthinkable. This is not always the case, some types of celebrity are generated retrospectively, often organized around a dead individual, with Elvis Presley only the most obvious example. But overall the weight of the experience of celebrity is tilted towards the present, which is why one can almost hear the collective sigh of relief among students of the topic echoing around the globe when they encounter sentences like Richard Schickel’s ‘there was no such thing as celebrity prior to the beginning of the twentieth century’ (1985:  23). Whew, that’s so much less reading we need to do! However, any developed understanding of celebrity relies on some grasp of a shorter or longer version of its history (Morgan 2011b). Anything one says about celebrity today needs to have a clear sense of whether and in what ways what is being referred to is in fact unique to the current period in history, if it is really true that earlier versions of the same thing cannot be found, or how the current version has evolved from earlier ones. Discussions of ‘postmodern’ celebrity need to be founded on a solid understanding of what ‘modern’ celebrity is, but then also early-​modern and traditional celebrity. Celebrity has had a variety of configurations, purposes and effects, rather than being ‘born modern’ at one or other time. No matter how one defines celebrity, its component aspects did not fall from the sky, they had a prior existence and history, a prior field of conditions which underpin its subsequent shape, that are important to understand if one is to grasp its dynamics and how it is configured today. Seeing how celebrity operates in very different historical contexts and configurations reveals key aspects of its inner logic, mechanisms and dynamics that would otherwise not be apparent. One can distinguish roughly four different types of approach to the history of celebrity. The first is that it only makes sense to speak of celebrity from no earlier than the mid-​nineteenth century onwards, from the point where photography took off and there was a significant increase in newspaper production and circulation. Some of the writers in this group will narrow the historical scope still further, continuing to insist that only the twentieth century is worth considering in any detail, from about the 1920s onwards. The second position is that 26

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there is clear evidence of a sufficient proportion of the features of celebrity from about the mid-​ eighteenth century, accompanying the enormous economic expansion and the explosion of consumerism, literature and theatre in that period, generating figures such as Rousseau,Voltaire, David Garrick, Sarah Siddons and Byron.These writers are generally strongly influenced, either directly or indirectly, by Jürgen Habermas’s (1974) understanding of a ‘public sphere’ having emerged at this time. Third, other scholars will find evidence of both a public sphere and similar sorts of celebrity in the seventeenth or the sixteenth centuries, emphasizing the impact of the introduction and spread of printing, and the celebrity dimensions of post-​Reformation, early-​modern culture and society. The fourth position encompasses those observers who take a closer look at aspects of social life from the twelfth century onwards, such as the cult of saints, which laid the foundations of a number of core elements of the celebrity relationship. Rather than outline each position in correct temporal order, I examine the four different approaches to celebrity’s history in reverse order, starting with the writers emphasizing the nineteenth century as the point of origin, then going backwards to the eighteenth century, the sixteenth century and then the twelfth century. It is useful to do it this way because it reflects how the historiography of celebrity itself has developed over the years, moving from an insistence on celebrity as purely a characteristic of twentieth-​century society, towards gradually digging deeper and deeper into the preceding historical periods.

The Graphic Revolution: the nineteenth and twentieth centuries Although he did not use the term ‘celebrity’, preferring to speak of ‘idols’, the first systematic treatment of the topic with some sense of a historical development appeared in Leo Lowenthal’s 1944 study of biographies in The Saturday Evening Post and Colliers between 1901 and 1941 across three categories: politics, business and professions, and entertainment (Lowenthal 1984). The historical shift that had taken place for Lowenthal was from a focus on the ‘idols of production’, individuals active in ‘the productive life, from industry, business, and natural sciences’ (1984: 206), in the ‘vocations which serve society’s basic needs’ (1984: 208), to an explosion of contemporary interest in what Lowenthal called the ‘idols of consumption’ in the fields of entertainment, the arts and sport. Lowenthal’s account was followed by C. Wright Mills’s 1957 book, The Power Elite, where he described the ‘idols of consumption’ as the stars of movies, theatre and television, and wrote that ‘[r]‌ather than being celebrated because they occupy positions of prestige, they occupy positions of prestige because they are celebrated’ (1957: 74). He argued that the particular position occupied by celebrities in the distribution of status and prestige in the 1950s should be understood as the successor of older aristocracies based on power and wealth. But they were also closely intertwined and interdependent with other types of elites, playing a strategic linking role in the various networks in the higher echelons of society. The function of achieving mass visibility had become such an essential component of the projection of status and prestige on the national, as opposed to merely the local, stage, that ‘[t]hose who would now claim prestige in America’, wrote Mills, ‘must join the world of the celebrity or fade from the national scene’ (p. 77). Mills’s analysis of celebrity came to be overshadowed by Daniel Boorstin’s 1962 book The Image, or whatever happened to the American Dream, which was organized around a distinction between the real and the illusory, the authentic and the synthetic, actual events and the ‘pseudo-​ events’ –​‘publicity stunts’ –​that had become so widely used by the mass media to manipulate public opinion in the course of the twentieth century. Celebrities were ‘human pseudo-​events’, entirely manufactured by public relations and the mass media, to be contrasted with genuine 27

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‘heroes’ –​someone who did ‘great’ things or displayed ‘great’ qualities. Boorstin defined a celebrity as someone who was ‘known for his well-​knownness’ (p. 67), which became popularized in the formula ‘famous for being famous’. The central historical concept in Boorstin’s account was what he called ‘the Graphic Revolution’: the period from around the mid-​nineteenth century where there was a massive expansion in the US in the capacity to create and disseminate images as well as information (p. 202). He referred to P.T. Barnum as ‘perhaps the first modern master of the pseudo-​event’ (p. 213), with the ‘machinery of information’ only becoming more sophisticated and effective ever since. A little later, Braudy’s (1986) The Frenzy of Renown changed the landscape completely, expanding the field of historical vision to encompass all of Western European written history. Braudy showed that the pursuit of public relations and being well-​known has always been as much a characteristic of most of human history as it was of twentieth-​century television personalities. The central thread running through Braudy’s history is the concept of the ‘democratization’ of fame, the gradual expansion of the sections of the population who find it possible to pursue this desire. In the nineteenth century, the important factors were developing forms of consumerism, ever-​increasing populations, constantly expanding urban centres such as London, Paris and New York, and associated transformations of the capacity of the mass media to reach more people faster. The book’s impact has been contradictory. By framing his account as concerning ‘fame’, Braudy left the door open for every subsequent observer to construct fame as celebrity’s prehistory, and to place the point of transition from one to the other pretty well where they pleased. When he later does say something more specific about celebrity, he defines it as ‘transient fame’, and dates it to the middle of the nineteenth century (2010: 166), although his accounts of the significance of earlier stages of the history of fame were sufficiently detailed to challenge that conception, and to see celebrity as having a longer history that does not need to be redefined as ‘fame’. Braudy was followed by sociologist Joshua Gamson’s 1994 Claims to Fame, and historian Charles Ponce de Leon’s 2002 Self-​Exposure. Gamson sought to take a closer look at exactly how the celebrity industry operated to develop a more nuanced understanding of the cultural production of those individual characters occupying the popular mind as celebrities. For Gamson, the nineteenth century and the spread of mass-​circulation newspapers was the period when earlier ‘celebrity motifs’ coalesced to make celebrity a ‘mass phenomenon’ (p. 19), and the focus of the book is on the celebrity production process in the course of the twentieth century, with the institutionalization of public relations and various publicity functionaries, leading to the production process coming to overshadow the celebrities themselves. In Self-​Exposure: Human-​interest journalism and the emergence of celebrity in America, 1890–​1940, historian Charles Ponce de Leon’s (2002) focus is the emergence of ‘human-​interest’ journalism in the period 1890 to 1920, although set against the background of its historical roots. He emphasizes that the idea of fame is not simply democratized, as Braudy argues, but also ‘modernized’ in the context of a variety of broader shifts, in conceptions of individuality, social order, power, social inequality, prestige and distinction (p. 13). He suggests at the end of the book (p. 281) that it may be a mistake to see the object of attention as celebrities themselves, or wealth and success, and that the concern in the concept of ‘true success’ may actually be to reconcile market-​driven individualism with the values of democracy and egalitarianism. The attraction of the celebrity master-​narrative, of the human ordinariness of success, power and wealth, is the construction of the possibility –​one could argue the myth –​that those two sets of values can actually co-​exist.

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A considerable body of scholarship has emerged, then, highlighting the various ways in which the nineteenth century was a turning point in the history of celebrity, with many seeing it as the period where the core elements of contemporary celebrity came together in a way they never had before. Lord Byron had become, by the time of his death in 1824, the most well-​ known poet in Europe, engaging with his readership in a very particular way because his writing was so tightly interwoven with his scandalous (publicly displayed) private life and theatrical, glamourous persona (Mole 2007). Braudy’s and others’ accounts of figures like Byron, Beau Brummel, Napoleon and many others, as well as a growing body of studies of the period, reveal an endless array of figures in a variety of social contexts that show clear affinities with twentieth-​ and twenty-​first-​century celebrity. During the course of the nineteenth century, celebrity was industrialized along with the rest of social life. Populations grew and urbanized enormously: in the United States, the population grew from 5 to 76 million between 1800 and 1900, in England it went from 10 to 38 million. The growth was especially marked in the cities –​Berlin, for example, doubled in size from one to two million between 1875 and 1905. As populations grew and towns and cities expanded, so too did audiences for all forms of entertainment –​advances in stage technology and better costuming made theatre more spectacular, guided in Britain by a new generation of highly successful actor-​managers. The development of railways, steamships and the telegraph made the rapid transfer of information and news possible and the demand for news was insatiable. Printing presses became faster and more productive to match the growing size of the readership. For P.  David Marshall it is only under these conditions in the nineteenth century  –​intensifying urbanization, mass-​circulation newspapers, literature and photographs, rising democratic political movements and the rise of the crowd and mass social movements –​that the figure of ‘the celebrity’ emerges (1997: 37). The introduction and spread of photography from 1840 onwards had an enormous impact, taking, as Braudy puts it, ‘the art of imaging out of the hands of those skilled enough to paint or engrave as well as those rich enough to and place it at the disposal of virtually everyone’ (1986: 492). The photograph made it possible for the aspiring celebrity to establish a far more intimate relationship with their audience, spontaneous, adaptable and with the aura of ‘reality’. By the 1860s, it had become virtually compulsory for anyone wishing to have a public profile –​ royalty, aristocracy, politicians, writers, poets, painters, sculptors, musicians, actors and actresses, scientists, social reformers, explorers and generals (Mathews 1974: 52–​60) –​to have their photos taken and distributed as their carte-​de-​visite (McCauley 1985). The pervasiveness, range and impact of the dynamics of celebrity in the nineteenth century are usefully illustrated by John Plunkett’s (2003) book on Queen Victoria as the ‘first media monarch’, in which he points out that Victoria and Prince Albert constructed a relationship with their subjects that displays many of the core characteristics of celebrity –​constant and frequent public exposure, access to their private lives, thoughts and feelings, inclusion in the domestic lives, gossip and everyday concerns of Victoria’s ‘audience’, and in many respects a certain kind of powerlessness in relation to that audience in terms of its capacity to define their role.Victoria was criticized along more or less the same lines as contemporary celebrities: Victoria-​as-​celebrity was perceived by many in nineteenth-​century Britain as ‘an invented figure without any material substance’ (p. 10). The tendency had been to define away periods prior to the nineteenth century as characterized by ‘fame’ rather than ‘celebrity’, but this was gradually chipped way by studies of the previous centuries, and the next decisive shift was towards the eighteenth century. This was for a number of reasons, including the reverberation of Jürgen Habermas’s (1974) arguments concerning the emergence of the public sphere, the new conceptualization of the impact of portrait artists like

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Joshua Reynolds in terms of the production of celebrity, and the emerging interest in figures like David Garrick, Lawrence Sterne, Benjamin Franklin, Voltaire and Rousseau as earlier examples of celebrity.

The Enlightenment and Romanticism: 1750–​1850 The growth of interest in the eighteenth century as the cradle of ‘modern’ celebrity (Inglis 2010) or the point of its ‘invention’ (Lilti 2017), the period when the essential logic and mechanism of the celebrity production first fell into place, has been fuelled by a growing awareness that the nineteenth-​century developments were in fact based on an earlier period of significant expansion of economic activity, consumer culture and the mass media in the previous century, with the emergence of a mass market –​and therefore a ‘mass audience’ –​in eighteenth-​century Paris and London (Luckhurst and Moody 2005; Wanko 2011). As Stella Tillyard wrote, ‘celebrity appears to have been made in the eighteenth century and in particular in eighteenth-​century London, with its dozens of newspapers and print shops, its crowds and coffee houses, theatres, exhibitions, spectacles, pleasure gardens and teeming pavements’ (2005b:  61). The size of the population and the market in Paris was smaller, but the logic and mechanisms of celebrity production were similar. Underpinning, one way or another, the growing appreciation of the significance of the eighteenth century in the history of celebrity is Jürgen Habermas’s conception of the emergence of a distinct ‘public sphere’, a realm of on-​going debate of current political and social issues, that Habermas defines as ‘a forum in which private people, come together to form a public, readied themselves to compel public authority to legitimate itself before public opinion’ (1974: 25–​26). He sees this public sphere as taking material form in books, pamphlets, newspapers, journals, as well as locations and events such as literary salons, coffee houses, meeting halls, reading clubs  and public assemblies. A  crucial aspect of the development of celebrity in the course of the eighteenth century was its increasing commercial significance, becoming bound up in a range of economic transactions, both as commodity in itself and as a vehicle for various sorts of commercial enterprise and profit-​making in the realms of print and visual culture, literature, art and theatre, generating an entirely new political economy of celebrity as a ‘cultural apparatus, consisting of the relations between an individual, an industry and an audience’ (Mole 2007: xi). Against the background of these broader developments, one can identify roughly four themes running through the way in which the eighteenth century has been analysed as the point of celebrity’s ‘origin’: first, the spread of print and visual culture, in newspapers, magazines, periodicals, books, pamphlets, art, engravings, prints; second, the increasing popularity and commercial significance of theatrical production, to the extent that one could speak of the ‘theatricalization of society’ in the course of the eighteenth century; third, a new sense of the self, anchored in private life, but at the same time, paradoxically, available to public scrutiny; fourth, the increasingly gendered character of the public sphere, with the growing presence of women, particularly as performers on various stages, playing a key role in the development of celebrity’s presence in social life.

Eighteenth-​century print and visual culture The impact of the printing press became a mass phenomenon in the course of the eighteenth century, partly because of the lifting of legal restrictions on the publishing industry, but also because of the growth in the market for published works, driven in part by population 30

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increase, but also by advances in printing techniques, lowering the costs. What is usually referred to as ‘the Enlightenment’ was not simply about the emergence of new ideas, it also took a material form, as an ever-​expanding assemblage of writers, readers, publishers, printers, bookstores, reading clubs, coffee houses and pubs requiring outstanding individual figures as focal points to organize itself around. The emergence of ‘typographical man’ was to open up an enormous new, and infinitely expandable, social space in which a growing number of individuals could use the greater circulation of stories and images to carve out novel ways of attracting attention, recognition and esteem –​novelists, philosophers, diarists, playwrights, biographers and autobiographers, and then actors and actresses, through the publicity which surrounded their performance. Tillyard emphasizes how the growing audience for books, magazines, journals and newspapers –​there were sixty weekly newspapers being printed in London by 1770 (Tillyard 2005b: 63; along with more than 75 periodical magazines: Donoghue 1996: 2) –​meant that authors joined their publishers in having a greater financial interest in all types of literary production, and private patronage had given way to the public market as the primary source of economic support for authors (Brock 2006: 7). The proliferation of the means by which celebrity could be generated, in newspapers, coffee-​houses, salons and reading clubs, meant that it became possible for celebrity producers –​commentators, reviewers, portrait painters –​to become celebrities themselves. Tom Mole suggests that Garrick, Laurence Stern and all the public figures in the first three-​ quarters of the eighteenth century lay on the ‘cusp’ of specifically modern celebrity, but that one can only start to speak of ‘celebrity culture in the modern sense’ (2007:  10) when, first, the industry of production, promotion and distribution reaches a higher level of sophistication and, second, the audience has attained a more mature character –​‘massive, anonymous, socially diverse and geographically distributed’ (p. 10), later in the eighteenth century, with Lord Byron as its most outstanding bearer. With Byron’s death, ‘Byron’ was converted into ‘pure celebrity, achieving levels of productivity that even Byron’s poetic facility couldn’t match and becoming tractable to commercial demands in a way that Byron himself never was’ (Mole 2008:  355), establishing the model that we are now familiar with in relation to later figures such as Elvis Presley, Marilyn Monroe or Che Guevara. The realm of visual culture and the creators of images also played an increasingly important role in the celebrity production process, because of improvements and a lowering of costs in the mass reproduction of visual material such as portraits. A useful illustration of this in England is Joshua Reynolds (1723–​1792), who was, with Thomas Gainsborough, the dominant English portrait artist of the eighteenth century. In his choice of portraits to paint, Reynolds ‘openly identified with fashionable Whig society; the Georgian “glitterati” –​liberal in their politics, liberated in their social attitudes, and libidinous in their sexual behaviour’ (Tillyard 2005a: 23), including alongside his powerful lords, dukes, princes and admirals, their courtesans and mistresses as well as their wives and daughters. As Reynolds, put it, ‘[d]‌istinction is what we all seek after … and I go with the great stream of life’ (cited in Postle 2005: 32). The ever-​expanding universe of images of public figures in a new age of mass reproduction operated, then, in alliance with the printed word, to draw attention to particular individuals, and to function with great effectiveness to fix the presence of those public figures in the minds of the populace, thus becoming a key vehicle for the generation of celebrity. What was achieved in the production of celebrity in the nineteenth century with photography was being done with portrait painting, engravings and prints, and a wide variety of forms of image reproduction in the eighteenth century. As literature gradually became liberated from the control of the aristocracy, so too the production of images broke free from aristocratic control, becoming increasingly 31

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democratized as more and more individuals seeking a public profile were able to have their likeness fixed in paint, print and porcelain.

The theatricalization of society Equally important in relation to celebrity was a central subject of eighteenth-century newspapers and periodicals, the world of the theatre, an arena where critical perspectives on public authority were also found, but often with greater effect because of the immediacy, dynamism and physicality of the theatre experience. By the middle of the eighteenth century, figures such as Colley Cibber, playwright and theatre manager (1671–​1757), and David Garrick, actor and actor-​ manager (1717–​1779), were perfecting the production of celebrity, encouraging an illusion of familiarity with the private lives of those entirely distant but nonetheless apparently intimately well-​known to an ever-​expanding domestic and international audience (Glover 2002: 523). Cheryl Wanko points out that one of the first and most dynamic forms of literary production was the new genre of autobiographies and biographies of actors and actresses from the beginning of the eighteenth century (2003:  2), which were part of the process of the expansion of the theatre, ‘educating’ the audience for theatrical productions, and intensifying the interactions between actor and audience (p. 3). It was figures precisely from the theatre who were well placed to generate celebrity around a new kind of individuality, because it was effectively their job to play with social convention. David Worrall (2013) also highlights a number of important aspects of the role of Georgian theatre in the development of the celebrity production process, arguing that the English theatre in the eighteenth century should be seen as an extensive assemblage of performers, managers, physical locations, audiences, their social networks, newspapers (journalists, editors, publishers, distribution networks), and as such was ‘the nation’s dominant culturally expressive form in the long eighteenth century’ (p. 1). He examines the complex and far-​reaching networks of physical locations, performers, managers, magazines and newspapers, images, audiences and their social networks to point out how elaborate and deeply anchored in the social body of eighteenth-​century England the entire theatrical assemblage was. For Barry King (2015), too, it is Georgian theatre that constitutes a turning point in the development of celebrity, because ‘it is there, historically, that the primordial connections between personality and the market were forged’ (King 2015: 4). It is during the eighteenth century that one sees the configuration of theatres as commercial enterprises, gradually becoming increasingly independent of aristocratic patronage and the Court’s approval, with playwrights and actors becoming ‘merchants of drama’ (King 2015: 27), and ‘star’ actors playing a crucial role in marketing theatrical productions, stabilizing audience expectations in the way we are now more familiar with in relation to twentieth-​century Hollywood films.

A new kind of self A central aspect of these transformations in print culture and theatre, both an outcome and a driving force, was the emergence of a new sense of subjectivity, the product of individual self-​ fashioning rather than defined by prescribed social position and rank. The growing ethos of democracy and equality was tied to a fascination with the life stories of individuals who were able to transcend Old Regime conventions of the allocation of recognition and status, which in turn gained an economic momentum of its own, given that fascination in a mass audience sold theatre tickets, newspapers, books and magazines. As Tillyard puts it, celebrity ‘was born at the moment private life became a tradeable public commodity’ (2005b: 64) The new understanding 32

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and experience of subjectivity was represented and promoted by those Braudy refers to as the ‘warlocks of individualism’: public figures such as Voltaire, Denis Diderot, David Hume, Samuel Johnson, Benjamin Franklin, Thomas Jefferson and Jean-​Jacques Rousseau. Antoine Lilti sees the important shift as one from a largely posthumous concept of ‘glory’ to a new sense of ‘status and recognition in one’s own lifetime’, a contemporaneous celebrity. Celebrity was ‘a radically new form of renown, characterized by a wide and largely uncontrolled circulation of the name and image of an individual, far beyond the networks of reputation and the judgement of peers’ (Lilti 2015). The expansion of print culture and theatre made it possible for ‘reputation’ to extend beyond an individual’s immediate network and those actually familiar with their works, throughout a whole society to include people who know little more than their name and their image, and for the creation of an illusion of intimacy with the private lives of public figures. Lilti cites Nicholas Chamfort’s sardonic comment that ‘Celebrity is the advantage of being known by those who do not know you’, drawing attention to the asymmetry of the relationship between a celebrity and a public who only know that person through their mediatized representation, images, literary reviews, café gossip and rumours (2017: 105). The mechanics of celebrity production and its particularly modern, democratic logic of establishing an intimate relationship of identification with the audience are now clearly visible, as Braudy notes, in the figures of Rousseau and Benjamin Franklin, a ‘living emblem of the self-​ created and self-​described for the eighteenth century’ (Braudy 1986: 366). They both, argued Braudy, practised a ‘paradoxical uniqueness’, that declared: ‘Praise me because I am unique, but praise me as well because my uniqueness is only a more intense and more public version of your own’ (Braudy 1986: 371–​372). Rousseau was significant because he sought attention for something quite distinctive and new, for his inner qualities, for who he really was quite apart from his social position. An important dimension of the new form of subjectivity that was taking shape in the eighteenth century was the emergence of the fan, or more precisely the triadic relationship between the celebrity, the individual fan and the collectivity of all their fans. As Braudy comments on Rousseau’s fans, ‘they were interested in learning how to become their true selves, whatever that might be, and soaking in the famous man’s aura of completeness was the first step in dealing with their own sense of personal and social fragmentation’ (1986: 381). Braudy refers to the emergence of the active audience that ‘instead of passively responding to its idols, takes an active role in defining them, an audience that is willing to be manipulated but eager to convey how that ought to be done more expertly’ (p. 381) as the most novel aspect of the development of celebrity (he still calls it fame) in the eighteenth century.

The feminization of fame A key feature of the role of theatre in the history of celebrity is the centrality of women to the shifting relationship between public and private life (Berlanstein 2001). Public attention, especially male attention, was increasingly focused, not just on male philosophers, poets, writers and actors, but also on actresses, female dancers, opera singers, popular songstresses and mistresses of aristocrats. The eighteenth-​century aristocracy in France and Britain were a libidinous bunch, keen to be highly sexually active and not shy about the exposure of that activity in the public sphere, ideal material for the scandals which sold newspapers and magazines, and promoted interest in portraits and engravings. The public sphere consisted largely of men, with ordinary women confined to the private, domestic sphere, and those men were quite happy to focus their attention on female performers. David Garrick had been preceded by Anne Oldfield, and was quickly followed by Sarah Siddons (West 2005). Berlanstein observes that ‘[t]‌wo questions, 33

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in particular, dominated interest in theater women: how beautiful they were and with whom they were sleeping’ (2001: 210), and these were the sorts of questions which sold newspapers and magazines. Felicity Nussbaum also notes the significance of gender and sexuality, arguing that ‘celebrity flourished in large part because fascinating women gathered to themselves sexual powers exceeding those that were ascribed to men’ (Nussbaum 2010:  17), using their public presence to both reshape femininity and confirm its established features (p. 26). Nussbaum emphasizes the extent to which the development of eighteenth-​century celebrity was in fact organized around the increasing presence of women in the public sphere, to the extent that the eroticization of the female presence in the public sphere was a powerful driving force. The stage became a key site for the blurring of the boundary between actresses’ public performances and their private lives, and the very concept of public intimacy was one that constituted in the first place a ‘feminization of fame’ (Brock 2006). Playwrights would assign prologues and epilogues to them, so that actresses would routinely ‘break the fourth wall’, ‘in which they teased the audience with public intimacy as a way of increasing their popularity or notoriety’ (Nussbaum 2005: 151). This practice, Nussbaum observes, of ‘conflating their own bodies with their roles, was an effective means of complicating the celebrity’s identity while stimulating the playgoer and creating the illusion of shared secrets’ (p. 151). There are, however, a number of instabilities in the idea that we should see the eighteenth century in London and Paris as celebrity’s point of origin or invention. Despite his overall focus on the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, Ponce de Leon (1992), for example, saw the emergence of twentieth-​century celebrity as anchored in the expansion of the public sphere in the eighteenth century, but against the background of a range of developments since the sixteenth century constituting the process of ‘modernization’. Following Agnew (1986), he sees the development of celebrity as linked to the emergence of market society and the loosening of social bonds in America in the modernization process. Joshua Gamson also draws attention to the important shifts that took place in the eighteenth century, but in addition he argues that ‘the basic celebrity motifs of modern America were composed long before the development of mass-​cultural technologies’, beginning in the seventeenth century, when ‘tensions arose between interior and exterior selves, between public and private lives, and between egalitarian and aristocratic interests’ (1994: 16). It is possible that instead of the invention of the mechanisms of celebrity, what we are really observing in the eighteenth century is their extension and expansion. It could be that we are considering not the invention of a particular mechanism, but its inversion, making it necessary conceptually to take a close look at preceding systems of celebrity production in earlier historical periods. Rather than a ‘break’ around the end of the seventeenth century, it may be more accurate to think in terms of an ongoing process, a transition from one form of celebrity-​ production to another, instead of its creation or birth, the transformation of the Old Regime rather than its abandonment for modernity and Enlightenment, making it necessary to look further back in history, to the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries.

Early modernity, after the printing press and the Reformation Just as Habermas’s understanding of the public sphere as emerging during the eighteenth century forms the background to the accounts of celebrity as having been invented at that time, the more recent revisionist historiography of the public sphere that has placed it in a broader chronological framework also forms the backdrop to a re-​evaluation of celebrity prior to the eighteenth century, in the early-​modern period.There are now a number of robust arguments in favour of shifting the temporal frame of the public sphere back to the sixteenth century, with the 34

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seventeenth century standing out as a watershed, based on a closer look at the post-​Reformation period. Peter Lake and Steven Pincus (2006) observe that ‘[p]‌r int, the pulpit, performance, and circulating manuscripts were all used to address promiscuously uncontrollable, socially heterogeneous, and, in some sense, popular audiences’ and that this activity itself ‘implied the existence of, and indeed notionally at least called into being, an adjudicating public or publics able to judge or determine the truth of the matter in hand on the basis of the information and argument placed before them’ (pp. 276–​277). Michael Schaich refers to ‘the news revolution of the early seventeenth century as the decisive moment in the emergence of the public sphere which, contrary to Habermas’s theory of a progression from literary to political subjects, was political from the start’ (Schaich 2008: 137), and Andreas Gestrich argues that it has become clear ‘that an active political public existed long before Habermas sees it rising, and that it already contained many elements typical of his bourgeois public sphere’ (2006: 425). Paul Yachnin has argued that the theatre in early modern London was itself a place where people went to acquire and debate the news (2001:  183–​185) and, as Jennifer Holl (2013) emphasizes, the theatre was itself ‘a central and potent site of news dissemination and publicity considered so efficacious that it prompted increasingly severe scrutiny and regulation in an attempt to control the messages it dispersed’, compensating for whatever deficiencies there were in the distribution of news, cultural products and ideas in comparison to the eighteenth century. The growth in London’s population was an important driving force for the development of the early-​modern public sphere; it is difficult to estimate with any great accuracy, but London’s population grew from roughly 80,000 in 1550 to 180,000 in 1576, 200,000 in 1600, 350,000–​ 400,000 in 1642 and 500,000 in the 1670s. Coffeehouses, and the public discussions they hosted, started to emerge in the mid-​seventeenth century, with 82 in London in 1663, and around 2,000 to 3,000 in 1700 (Schaich 2008: 127). These re-​evaluations of the early modern public sphere have direct implications for those realms which underpin the production of celebrity, such as literature, art, politics and theatre, and it becomes apparent that the eighteenth-​century developments had their roots in important shifts which took place in those fields as well from the Reformation onwards. Closely related to the themes characterizing the eighteenth century, there are three threads running through the post-​Reformation history of celebrity: first, the dramatic impact of the printing press and the spread of print and visual culture; second, the interconnections between the emergence of market dynamics, the spread of the theatre as a key form of not just entertainment, but sociability itself, and the theatricality of the exercise of power; and third, the early-​modern stages of the development of individualism and new, market-​oriented forms of selfhood and subjectivity.

Early modern print and visual culture The impact of printing on European culture, society, politics and law is difficult to overestimate. It was print, for example, which effectively made the Reformation possible. A.G. Dickens (1966) estimates that Martin Luther’s thirty publications sold more than 300,000 copies between 1517 and 1520, and Protestant reformers were keenly aware of the power of the printed work in liberating them, as they saw it, from the Roman bondage. As Dickens observes, ‘[f]‌or the first time in human history a great reading public judged the validity of revolutionary ideas through a mass-​medium which used the vernacular language together with the arts of the journalist and the cartoonist’ (1966: 51). It may be anachronistic to make a comparison with Twitter, but it is worth noting how revolutionary the idea of short, sharp theses actually was. Luther, as Andrew Pettegree emphasizes, had ‘invented a new form of theological writing: short, clear, and direct, speaking not only to his professional peers but to the wider 35

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Christian public’ (2015: 5), in Latin for the former, and in German for the latter. The Church had really lost its monopoly over the production of ideas the moment the printing presses and their distribution networks became fully functional, but, as Pettegree writes, it was Luther who instigated the media revolution upon which everything that happened in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries was subsequently built, introducing the use of his image in organizing his published works around ‘Brand Luther’, paying attention to the importance of visual layout in publishing to attract and hold his audience’s attention. Within a year of posting his theses, he had become the most published author in Europe (p. 105), and print had ‘propelled Martin Luther, a man who had published nothing in the first thirty years of his life, to instant celebrity’ (Pettegree 2015: 11). It had been possible for historians and philosophers to become celebrated themselves by writing about other famous people, but usually in the past, and it was after the production of printed materials had reached a certain degree of efficiency and range of distribution that it was possible for celebrity producers to become contemporaneous with their celebrities, and for individuals seeking celebrity to work with increasing efficiency on the production of their own celebrity. Peter Lely (1618–​1680), both the portrait painter of Oliver Cromwell ‘warts and all’ and Charles II’s court painter, stimulated the field of celebrity portraiture in the seventeenth century, producing images of the leading figures of the aristocracy as well as Charles II’s mistresses, and introducing the practice of making prints of his portraits for circulation in England and on the Continent.

Subjectivity, authenticity and the performance of the self A concern with interior psychological life and the self as a distinct individual was not in fact especially new, but in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, driven by broader social and political changes, it became more pervasive and more intense in the work of Montaigne (1592), Shakespeare (1616), Erasmus (1536), Luther (1546), Hobbes (1679) and Locke (1704), and reached an ever-​expanding audience in the greatly expanded ‘public sphere’ of the printed word. When Stephen Greenblatt developed his arguments about the emergence of the ideas and practices of ‘self-​fashioning’, he was not referring to eighteenth-​century individualism, but to the sixteenth century, which was when he thought there was growing attention paid to ‘the fashioning of human identity as a manipulable, artful process’ (1980: 1). For Jean-​Claude Agnew (1986), the changes in self-​perception were closely connected with the emergence of capitalist forms of economic activity, and in particular the appearance and spread of money-​driven market mechanisms. The market had in the past been simply a clearly demarcated physical location, a place and a space for economic transactions, but the spread of a money economy transformed market transactions into much more abstract processes of supply and demand, cut loose from visible social and cultural anchors (1986: 51). The emergence of the ‘place-​less market’ (p. 41) meant, argues Agnew, a fundamental destabilization of all social relations and conceptions of unified identity, and market society raised the problem of representation and the performance of identity. This was why there was an increase in attention to the question of authenticity and sincerity, of what distinctions could or should be made between the ‘real’ self as opposed to its theatrical presentation. The opposition which emerged was between ‘prudence’  –​the conscious tailoring of the presentation of self to particular ends divorced from any particular relationship to ethics (e.g., Machiavelli)  –​and ‘sincerity’  –​the insistence that exterior presentation and interior psychic life should more or less correspond. Montaigne expressed the second position when he wrote ‘It is enough to make up our face, without making up our heart’ (1958: 773–​74). The tension between prudence and sincerity remained a live issue 36

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in all aspects of early-​modern and modern social life, with being ‘true to oneself ’ a problem to be constantly wrestled with and meditated upon, rather than one lending itself to definitive solution.This is one of the constitutive reasons for the acute interest in the question of how sincerity and prudence, private and public lives relate to each other, which in turn underpins the logic and mechanisms of celebrity.

Theatre, power, market The realms of the court and the monarchy and the mechanisms of the absolutist state were a crucial source of the theatricalization of society, driven by the performative dynamics of political power. Because actors could ‘be’ kings, apparently often more effectively than real kings, kings also had to become actors. Kevin Sharpe (2009) suggests that political leaders have constructed themselves as celebrities in the constitution of their political power through processes of representation since Henry VIII. He argues in relation to English history that a key feature of Tudor rule was its capacity to secure the compliance of a sharply divided population through ‘careful acts of representation –​in words, images and spectacular performances –​that did not simply reflect or enact power but helped construct it’ (2009: 6–​7). Henry VIII achieved this in ways that we can recognize today as constructing an action-​man celebrity identity, a combination of swashbuckling movie idol, military hero and sports star. He was ‘the jock who wanted to be a international sporting celebrity’ (2009: 158), which revolved at that time around jousting. Henry VIII’s reign was an archetypal example of the need for kings not just to be kings, but to perform kingship. Elizabeth I’s iconic status, suggests Sharpe, ‘owed less to a sanctity proclaimed by official scripts and images and more to a celebrity status granted by subjects’ (2009: 78). Through constant engagement with the public, frequent pageants and progresses, Elizabeth was able, argues Kastan, ‘to transform her country into a theatre, and, in the absence of a standing army, create an audience, troops of loyal admirers, to guarantee her rule’ (Kastan 1984: 466). ‘We princes, I tell you’, declared Elizabeth I, ‘are set on stages, in sight and view of all the world’ (Ward 2001; Levin 2002), and she had a very clear sense of the centrality to her power, legitimacy and authority of her self-​presentation and public performance in public. This is why Ian Ward argues in his comparison of Elizabeth I with Princess Diana, that ‘the greatest ‘Diana’ in modern English history was Elizabeth I’ (Ward 2001: 6). The same mechanisms and dynamics of power and rule can be seen in the reigns of other political leaders, with Louis XIV one of the leading examples and reference points. Peter Burke speaks of the ‘fabrication’ of Louis XIV; ‘[f]‌or his contemporaries as for posterity’, notes Burke, ‘the sun-​king was a star’ (Burke 1992: 199). In England, the appearance of women on the public stage after 1660 with the ascension of Charles II to the throne was particularly electrifying. Women on stage challenged deeply rooted conceptions of femininity as confined to the private realm of family life, and an important aspect of the way this challenge was dealt with was the eroticization of women’s public presence as well as developing intimate and personal relationships between actresses and their audiences.The character of individual actors and actresses had come to play a central role, by the late seventeenth century, and plays had already come to be written around the leading female players. Audiences took a keen interest in the backstage private lives of actresses in particular, circulated and kept alive through personal connections and gossip, but also importantly through printed satires, biographies and memoirs, making Restoration actresses of more interest than the roles they played. In one of the more important contributions to understanding the centrality of early modernity to the history of celebrity, in her unpublished 2013 PhD dissertation, Stars Indeed: The celebrity of Shakespeare’s London, Jennifer Holl queries the focus on the mass media at the expense 37

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of the significance of the theatre, arguing that instead of searching for the earliest forms of mass media, it is more accurate to develop a sense of how the theatre in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries fulfilled the most relevant functions of the mass media in relation to production of celebrity, and she asserts ‘a fundamentally different way of looking at celebrity –​not as a media production, but rather, a theatrical one, constructed through the reciprocal exchanges between live bodies during the fleeting, but highly charged theatrical event’ (pp. 9–​10). Holl also stresses the importance of Agnew’s (1986) account of the interweaving of the development of the theatre with another crucial aspect of early modern society, the emergence of the mechanisms and processes of a potentially boundless market beholden, apparently, to none of the established rules, traditions and conventions. We have already seen how Agnew outlines the disruptive impact of market mechanisms on established conceptions of identity and sociability, and he goes on to explain how the theatre was an essential aspect of how early modern people engaged with the implications, confusions, problems and anxieties associated with the fluidity of relations organized around money transactions. Confronted with a world where ‘all that is solid turns to air’, literature, art and drama all functioned as ‘a figurative act of settlement: exposing, dissecting, and classifying all that threatened to confuse the social relations of Elizabethan England, tying the loose ends of commerce and crime back to the frayed fabric of society’ (Agnew 1986:  65). Elizabethan and Jacobean theatre, writes Agnew, ‘did not just hold the mirror up to nature; it brought forth ‘another nature’ –​a new world of “artificial persons” ’ (p. xi) An even earlier illustration of the interlinkages between market dynamics, new theatrical forms and celebrity in the sixteenth century is Italian commedia dell’arte (improvised drama), and especially the early Italian actresses who were stage presences a full century before Charles II permitted them onto the English public stage. Rosalind Kerr (2015) observes that commedia dell’arte emerged in the 1540s in response to the social and economic upheavals of the time, as well the weakening of the Church’s cultural and ideological authority. Urban centres such as Venice were crowded with farmers and rural workers driven from the land, gypsies and refugees from Greece, Germany and Central Europe (Henke 1997: 2), which generated lively audiences for a variety of performers and entertainers (Henke 1997: 2). It did not take long for these troupes of travelling performers to realize the commercial values of eroticism, and that the ‘lascivious grace’ (Kerr 2015: 22) of female players greatly enhanced the commercial appeal and competitive edge of their efforts. As Kerr remarks, ‘If … the commercial theatre from mountebanks to professional troupes owed its unprecedented success to the creation of a nascent mass market through sensational packaging of its good and services, its secret weapon proved to be the addition of female performers’ (Kerr 2015: 29). There may not have been an industrialized system of media production, but oral communication was also perfectly effective, and Kerr observes that early commedia dell’arte actresses like Flaminia, Vincenza and Isabella Andreini ‘acquired reputations that extended beyond their existence as private individuals, as “images” of them circulated among their fans’, not in printed materials, but in ‘the imaginations of their audiences’ (p. 71), with the sexualized dimensions of those images being an important driver of their celebrity. In this respect, they represented an essential aspect of the meaning of celebrity, the circulation of conceptions and understandings of an individual beyond their immediate circle of acquaintances, being known by people who do not know them. Kerr highlights how Andreini’s career displays many of the characteristics of celebrity normally associated with the public figures of the eighteenth century: a biographical narrative of a rise from modest origins, a rhetoric of authenticity, a blurring of the boundary between her private life and her stage performances, and a community of fans devoted to sustaining and spreading her status as a celebrity. 38

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We seem, then, finally to have come to a possible point of origin in the history of celebrity, in the movement from the Middle Ages to early modernity, the beginnings of the transition from feudalism to capitalism and market society, and the origins of the modern state. Even here, though, one cannot rest content, because the history of individualism goes back further than the sixteenth century to at least the Italian Renaissance in the fourteenth century, including earlier figures such as Petrarch, Dante, Boccaccio and Chaucer. Given the parallels that can be drawn between an orientation to celebrity and religious devotion, between the celebrity icon and earlier types of religious icons, it is also useful to look briefly at the arguments for regarding the Christian saints as the original celebrities, establishing the core of the celebrity ethos around which subsequent developments have been organized.

If celebrities are like saints, saints are like celebrities The most extensive engagement with the question of the ways in which celebrity is analogous to religion is Chris Rojek’s discussion in his 2001 book Celebrity, where he begins by noting a number of parallels. They include ‘the attribution by fans of magical or extraordinary powers to the celebrity’ (p. 53), the tension characterizing the combination of intense emotional involvement with and the physical and social remoteness of its object (p. 86), community-​formation, the emotional investment in relics, veneration of the dead (at times including their bodily remains), pilgrimage (p. 59), the themes of ‘ascension’, mortification, redemption and reincarnation, the promise of salvation, and the parallels with shamanism. The connection between religion and celebrity is given more substance if one considers the cult of the saints in medieval Christianity, and the ways in which the relationship between saints and their followers pre-​figures the relationship between a celebrity and their fans. Indeed, Georges Minois argues that the realm of faith is the only space where it makes sense to speak of celebrity in the Middle Ages (2012: 79). As Simon Morgan has observed, there are clear analogies ‘between modern celebrity and the medieval cult of saints, with its commercially available icons and relics, and the possibility of imagining a personal relationship with the object of desire’ (2011a: 96).The contemporary celebrity photograph, either torn from a magazine or artfully reproduced in an expensive frame, has clear functional parallels as a ‘holy relic’ with the iconic image of one’s favourite saint (Howells 2011). Joseph Roach notes that the idea of public intimacy is not at all a purely modern conception, but in reality is rooted in religious doctrine and dispositions. Saints lie at the point of contact between the ordinary and the divine, like movie stars, and their images ‘circulate widely in the absence of their persons –​a necessary condition of modern celebrity –​but the very tension between their widespread visibility and their actual remoteness creates an unfulfilled need in the hearts of the public’ (Roach 2003: 17). For Avid Kleinberg (2011), the turning point is the twelfth century. Up until then, saints were martyrs and ‘religious virtuosi’  –​ascetics and hermits, bearers of stigmata, survivors of extremes of torture and torment, experts in self-​mortification like the stylites sitting on pillars in the desert for thirty years –​as evidence of their holiness, able to heal and perform miracles and closely tied to their local communities. It is from the twelfth century that one sees saints appearing beyond their own monasteries and localities, figures like the preacher Fulk of Neuilly (d. 1201), St. Bernard of Clairvaux (1090–​1143) (‘the unchallenged spiritual superstar of his era’; Kleinberg 2011: 394), St. Francis of Assisi (d. 1226) and St. Anthony of Padua (1195–​1231), who ‘are recognizable by large crowds and who provoke “wild”, ruthless enthusiasm’ (Kleinberg 2011: 395). The fact that this new breed of saint was recognized across a broad territory meant that there had emerged the beginnings of a network of communication, and the audience’s enthusiasm indicated an engagement with new ideas and people from beyond their locality, 39

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liberated from the normal community constraints.This was no posthumous glory: the followers of saints would eavesdrop, peep and stalk. It is true that twelfth-​century crowds wanted more than just the presence of their saints, they wanted ‘miracle workers, healers, saints able to ensure the crops, to distance them from the Horsemen of the Apocalypse, death, famine, pestilence, war’ (Minois 2012:  80), ideally in as spectacular a form as possible, and would be mightily annoyed if they did not get them. But at the same time those miracles also had a powerful social and symbolic function beyond their immediate effect as people would go home and talk about them with their family, friends and neighbours, and share the experience with other ‘fans’. Followers of saints ‘are willing to believe tall tales, because –​unlike non-​believers –​[they] form a virtual community whose common factor is the person that [they] create by [their] adulation’ (Kleinberg 2011: 395). The economic functions of saints also prefigured that of later public figures; their portraits and icons were bought and sold, they facilitated donations and encouraged travel, and stimulated the market in cultural goods. As Kleinberg argues, ‘Miracles, vast enthusiastic crowds, powerful stories, create demand and produce imitation –​they enlarge the volume and the repertoire of the symbolic market’ (p. 395). The critiques of the cult of the saints, both from within the Catholic Church and on the part of Protestants, can usefully be understood as analogous to the contemporary criticism of the superficiality of the obsession with celebrity, attacking the diversion from supposedly more meaningful and sober reflections, and highlighting the crass commercialism of the trade in saints’ relics, icons and artefacts.

Conclusion How one approaches the history of celebrity depends a great deal on how one defines it. A broad inclusive definition, which includes a maximum of its current characteristics will generate a relatively shallow history, starting either with Hollywood in the early twentieth century or with the emergence of photography in the middle of the nineteenth century. The more one breaks celebrity down into its component parts, the further back in history one will find it possible to think about social and cultural life in terms of a conception of celebrity. Currently the eighteenth century is probably the most popular period where many people agree that the historical narrative about celebrity should begin, but, as we have seen, there are also arguments for the sixteenth century and earlier. Whichever position one takes on how a deep the historical roots of celebrity run, there are three challenges that face any approach. The first is to develop a genuine history of celebrity, where one perceives how it has actually changed over time, rather than looking for the ‘birth’ of a ‘modern’ celebrity at some point in time, and avoids simply relegating it to ‘fame’ when it looks too different from what we recognize today. There are two kinds of possible dangers of anachronism:  either one sees the present version of celebrity at all points in the past, and so projects the present into the past. Or one does more or less the same, but in reverse, where one sees the absence of the present-​day version of celebrity, and so declares that this was not celebrity, but fame. In both cases, the danger concerns a kind of teleological narcissism, where one can only conceive celebrity as it currently operates, rather than grasping the phenomenology of its fundamentally different character and dynamics in earlier historical periods, and where the outcome of celebrity’s history, its present form, is regarded as the driving force behind its history, instead of granting independent integrity to the differing configurations of celebrity in particular historical periods. The second, related challenge is to do the history forwards rather than backwards. The most common approach is to search for earlier versions of the current forms of celebrity, thinking in 40

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terms of celebrity in the past simply in terms of the presence or absence of current elements, the main one being the mass media. So today’s celebrity is treated as the point of departure, the reference point, and all that came before it as constituting its incremental building blocks. But it is also possible to see celebrity today as a later version of what came before, so that, say, the celebrity aura of the medieval saints, or of Elizabethan actors, is treated as the core aspect of celebrity, to be extended and developed and interwoven with new social forms over time, such as ever-​ expanding forms of media, communication, representation and social interaction underpinning an ever-​shifting structuring of the public sphere. Instead of celebrity as a modern form of fame, then, fame can be regarded as a pre-​modern form of celebrity; instead of seeing celebrity as fame democratized, one can see fame as an aristocratic form of celebrity. Third, celebrity’s history is tightly interwoven with a number of other histories  –​of the theatre, literature, poetry, art, philosophy, popular and elite culture, religion, individualism, music, dance, society, politics and economics –​and this generates enormous potential to develop the interconnections between the history of celebrity and other existing fields of historical research across as much of history as one has time for. This is because in order to understand contemporary celebrity, it is necessary to grasp how its historical formation was interwoven with a variety of other social processes –​the development of the mass media certainly, but also of market society, subjectivity and the self, the nation as ‘imagined community’, religiosity and the divine, ever-​expanding and ever-​more-​complex networks of interdependency, power relations in the ‘transition’ from feudalism to capitalism, or from tradition to modernity, and the role of both the concept and the practices of different kinds of performance in social life. Everyone studying celebrity will engage in their own way with these three challenges, as well as the question of which history of celebrity they prefer working with, but however these questions are addressed, the field of celebrity’s histories is a compelling and intriguing one, raising an ever-​expanding set of conceptual concerns that promise to continue enriching our understanding of celebrity in thought-​provoking ways.

References Agnew, J.-​C. 1986. Worlds Apart. Cambridge: Cambridge Univ. Press. Berlanstein, L.R. 2001. Daughters of Eve. Cambridge, MA: Harvard Univ. Press. Boorstin, D.J. 1962. The Image, or What Happened to the American Dream. Harmondsworth: Penguin. Braudy, L. 1986. The Frenzy of Renown. New York: Oxford Univ. Press. Braudy, L. 2010. Secular anointings: Fame, celebrity, and charisma in the first century of mass culture. In E. Berenson and E. Giloi (eds), Constructing Charisma (pp. 165–​182). New York: Berghahn. Brock, C. 2006. The Feminization of Fame, 1750–​1830. New York: Palgrave Macmillan. Burckhardt, J. 1945 [1860]. The Civilization of the Renaissance in Italy. London: Phaidon Press. Burke, P. 1992. The Fabrication of Louis XIV. New Haven, CT: Yale Univ. Press. Dickens, A.G. 1966. Reformation and Society in Sixteenth-​century Europe. London: Thames and Hudson. Donoghue, F.  1996. The Fame Machine:  Book reviewing and eighteenth century literary careers. Stanford, CA: Stanford Univ. Press. Eisenstein, E.L. 1968. Some conjectures about the impact of printing on Western society and thought: a preliminary report. Journal of Modern History, 40(1): 1–​56. Eltis, S. 2005. Private lives and public spaces: reputation, celebrity and the lateVictorian actress. In M. Luckhurst and J. Moody (eds), Theatre and Celebrity in Britain, 1660–​2000 (pp. 169–​188). Basingstoke:  Palgrave Macmillan. Franklin, B. 1817. The Private Correspondence of Benjamin Franklin,Vol. 1. London: Henry Colburn. Frow, J. 1998. Is Elvis a god? Cult, culture, questions of method. International Journal of Cultural Studies, 1(2): 197–​210. Gamson, J. 1994. Claims to Fame. Berkeley: Univ. of California Press. Gestrich, A. 2006. The public sphere and the Habermas debate. German History, 24(3): 413–​430. 41

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Glover, B. 2002. Nobility, visibility, and publicity in Colley Cibber’s “Apology”. Studies in English Literature, 1500-​1900, 42(3): 523–​539. Greenblatt, S. 1980. Renaissance Self-​Fashioning. Chicago: Univ. of Chicago Press. Habermas, J. 1974. The public sphere: An encyclopedia article. New German Critique, 3: 49–​55. Henke, R. 1997. The Italian Mountebank and the Commedia dell’Arte. Theatre Survey, 38(2): 1–​29. Holl, J.R. 2013. Stars Indeed. PhD dissertation, City Univ. of New York. Howells, R. 2011. Heroes, saints and celebrities: The photograph as holy relic. Celebrity Studies, 2(2): 112–​130. Inglis, F. 2010. A Short History of Celebrity. Princeton, NJ: Princeton Univ. Press. Kastan, D.S. 1984. Proud majesty made a subject: Shakespeare and the spectacle of rule. Shakespeare Quarterly, 37(4): 459–​475. Kerr, R. 2015. The Rise of the Diva on the Sixteenth Century Commedia dell’Arte Stage. Toronto:  Univ. of Toronto Press. King, B. (ed.) 2015. Taking Fame to Market. Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan. Kleinberg, A. 2011. Are saints celebrities? Some medieval Christian examples. Cultural & Social History, 8(3): 393–​397. Lake, P., and Pincus, S. 2006. Rethinking the public sphere in Early Modern England. Journal of British Studies, 45(2): 270–​292. Levin, C. 2002. ‘We Princes, I  tell you, are set on stages’. Elizabeth I  and dramatic self-​representation. In M. Wynne-​Davies and S.P. Cerasano (eds), Readings in Renaissance Women’s Drama (pp. 113–​124). London: Routledge. Lilti, A. 2015. Public figures: The invention of celebrity in the eighteenth century. The Voltaire Foundation, 24 June 2015, https://​voltairefoundation.wordpress.com/​2015/​06/​24/​public-​figures-​the-​invention-​ of-​celebrity-​in-​the-​eighteenth-​century/​. Lilti, A. 2017. The Invention of Celebrity. Cambridge: Polity. Lowenthal, L. 1984. Literature and Mass Culture. Communication in Society,Vol. 1. London: Transaction Books. Luckhurst, M., and Moody, J. 2005. Introduction: The singularity of theatrical celebrity. In M. Luckhurst and J. Moody (eds), Theatre and Celebrity in Britain, 1660–​2000 (pp. 1–​14). Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan. Marshall, P.D. 1997. Celebrity and Power. Minneapolis: Univ. of Minnesota Press. Mathews, O. 1974. The Album of Carte-​de-​Visite and Cabinet Portrait Photographs 1854–​1914. London: Reedminster Publications. Mccauly, E.A. 1985. A. A.  E. Disdéri and the Carte de Visite Portrait Photography. New Haven, CT:  Yale Univ. Press. Mills, C.W. 1957. The Power Elite. New York: Oxford Univ. Press. Minois, G. 2012. Histoire de la célébrité. Paris: Librairie Académique Perrin. Mole, T. 2007. Byron’s Romantic Celebrity. London: Palgrave Macmillan. Mole, T. 2008. Lord Byron and the end of fame. International Journal of Cultural Studies, 11(3): 343–​361. Montaigne, M.D. 1958. The Complete Essays of Montaigne. Trans. Donald M. Frame. Stanford, CA: Stanford Univ. Press. Morgan, S. 2011a. Celebrity: Academic ‘pseudo-​event’ or a useful concept for historians? Cultural & Social History, 8(1): 95–​114. Morgan, S 2011b. Historicising celebrity. Celebrity Studies, 1(3): 366–​368. Morin, E. 1960. The Stars. New York: Grove Press. Nussbaum, F. 2005. Actresses and the economics of celebrity, 1700–​1800. In M. Luckhurst and J. Moody (eds), Theatre and Celebrity in Britain, 1660–​2000 (pp. 148–​168). Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan. Nussbaum, F. 2010. Rival Queens. Philadelphia: Univ. of Pennsylvania Press. Pettegree, A. 2015. Brand Luther. Harmondsworth: Penguin. Plunkett, J. 2003. Queen Victoria. Oxford: Oxford Univ. Press. Ponce De Leon, C.L. 1992. Idols and Icons. PhD dissertation, Rutgers Univ. Ponce De Leon, C.L. 2002. Self-​Exposure. Chapel Hill: Univ. of North Carolina Press. Postle, M. 2005. ‘The Modern Apelles’: Joshua Reynolds and the creation of celebrity. In M. Postle (ed.), Joshua Reynolds (pp. 17–​33). London: Tate Publishing. Rojek, C. 2001. Celebrity. London: Reaktion Books. Rojek, C. 2012. Fame Attack. London: Bloomsbury Academic. Rojek, C. 2014. Niccolo Machiavelli, cultural intermediaries and the category of achieved celebrity, Celebrity Studies, 5(4): 455–​468. Schaich, M. 2008. The public sphere. In P.H. Wilson (ed.), A Companion to Eighteenth-​Century Europe (pp. 125–​140). Oxford: Blackwell. 42

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Schickel, R. 1985. Intimate Strangers. Garden City, NY: Doubleday. Sentilles, R.M. 2003. Performing Menken. Cambridge: Cambridge Univ. Press. Sharpe, K. 2009. Selling the Tudor Monarchy. New Haven, CT: Yale Univ. Press. Tillyard, S. 2005a. Celebrity in 18th-​century London. History Today, 55(6): 20–​27. Tillyard, S. 2005b. ‘Paths of glory’: fame and the public in eighteenth-​century London. In M. Postle (ed.), Joshua Reynolds (pp. 61–​69). London: Tate Publishing. Wanko, C. 2003. Roles of Authority. Lubbock: Texas Tech Univ. Press. Wanko, C. 2011. Celebrity studies in the long eighteenth century: An interdisciplinary overview. Literature Compass, 8(6): 351–​362. Ward, I. 2001. Fairyland and its fairy kings and queens. Journal of Historical Sociology, 14(1): 1–​20. West, S. 2005. Siddons, celebrity and regality: Portraiture and the body of the ageing actress. In M. Luckhurst and T.W. Moody (eds), Theatre and Celebrity in Britain, 1660–​2000 (pp. 191–​213). Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan. Worrall, D. 2013. Celebrity, Performance, Reception. Cambridge: Cambridge Univ. Press. Yachnin, P. 2001. The house of fame. In P. Yachnin and A.B. Dawson (eds), The Culture of Playgoing in Shakespeare’s England (pp. 182–​207). Cambridge: Cambridge Univ. Press.

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What we may be looking at in more recent times is a redefining of what a celebrity actually is. It’s not a Hollywood star necessarily. It’s a hairdresser from Essex who’s been on television. Ian Drury, Celebrity Publisher, Starsuckers (dir. Chris Atkins, 2009) In 2012, pop star and celebrity style icon Lady Gaga capitalised on the cultural currency of twenty-first-century celebrity by bottling fame and selling it. Literally. In August of that year, the Italian American singer and performance artist (known independently of her celebrity persona as Stefani Germanotta) launched her first fragrance ‘Lady Gaga Fame’ in the global fragrance market. It sold big, it sold fast, and it was enormously profitable to its stakeholders. As Lee Barron notes, ‘Lady Gaga Fame’ “reportedly sold six million bottles in its first week of release” (2015: 60). This example is instructive for understanding some of the dominant operational logics and industrial mechanics of contemporary celebrity in various ways and for a number of reasons. The concept itself (i.e. the idea that fame can be bottled and sold) speaks directly to the longstanding Marxist cultural studies notion of ‘standardisation’  – the idea, foundationally theorised by Theodor Adorno, that popular cultural products can serve capitalism most profitably when they are reduced to simple formulae that are replicated and re-introduced to the mass market with slight variation that produces the illusion of differentiation for the consuming audience. Adorno elucidates this phenomenon most famously in relation to the commonalities and simplicities in chord structure and lyric that he identified in popular music recordings (1990 [1941]). But, writing in conjunction with Max Horkheimer, Adorno conceptually developed the phenomenon of standardisation to account for the embodied nature of film stardom, thus arriving at what Horkheimer and Adorno call ‘pseudo-individuation’ (1947 [1944]). This is underpinned by the same principle that, as artefacts of popular culture, film stars are presented to audiences in terms of what is individual, unique or different about them, but closer scrutiny reveals standardised commonalities from one example to the next, such as in their collective sporting of fashionable (for the time) hairstyles. Herein lies the link to the aforementioned example from contemporary celebrity culture, in that the persona of the celebrity lends a sense of individuality and differentiation to a standardised and mass-produced product: in this case a commercial fragrance. 44

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Illustrative of the extent to which this specific iteration of the pseudo-individuation of a mass-market product is a phenomenon of celebrity in the contemporary era is the fact that upon its release, ‘Lady Gaga Fame’ was the latest in what had by then become an extremely long line of celebrity-branded fragrances, some of the more well-known and notable of which included film and r’n’b pop star Jennifer Lopez’s ‘J-Lo Glow’ in 2002, Sex and the City star Sarah Jessica Parker’s ‘Lovely’ in 2005, pop mega-star Beyoncé‘s ‘Heat’ in 2010, and (former) footballer David Beckham’s ‘Homme by David Beckham’ in 2011. One reason for the emergence of this trend for celebrity-branded fragrances is that the practice of celebrity has become highly entrepreneurial in the contemporary era.This is in line with the free-market values of late capitalism and neoliberalism that have dominated economies, cultures and societies in recent decades. As Barron writes, “From the perspective of political economy, contemporary celebrity culture mirrors and exemplifies the mode of flexible accumulation which [David] Harvey argues capitalism has adopted from the 1980s onwards as celebrities spread out their earning potential and capitalize on their fame by establishing footholds in numerous industries” (2015: 61). Nowhere in contemporary celebrity culture can this be seen more vividly than in the phenomenon of the Kardashians (Scheiner McClain 2014) and all their celebrity affiliates whose dramatic rise to global cross-media dominance of the celebrity-scape, under the savvy management of family matriarch Kris Jenner, was enabled by the success of their initial foray into the world of celebrity media, the E! entertainment television channel reality show Keeping Up With The Kardashians (2007). From that point on, the Kardashian celebrity brand developed and expanded in ways not just symptomatic, but epitomic of so much of what is typical of celebrity in the contemporary era: it is entrepreneurial (at the time of writing the Kardashian/Jenner brand has a net worth of over $450 million), it is diversified (across the television, fashion, fragrance, beauty and make-up industries, to name only some), it is mediated across platforms on a global scale and with the immediacy made possible by twenty-first-century digital technologies (for example, at the time of writing Kim Kardashian alone has over 55 million Twitter followers), and it enables and/or enhances the celebrity status of others who harness its popular cultural cachet in order to bolster their own (such celebrities include but are not limited to Kanye West, a hip hop star in his own right; he has nonetheless harnessed the power of the Kardashian celebrity brand through his relationship with Kim; Lamar Odom – moderately famous in his own right as a basketball star, he achieved global celebrity status through his relationship with Khloe Kardashian to the point that he topped the list of Google’s most popular search terms for 2015; and Blac Chyna – again, moderately famous as a model, she became a global celebrity via her relationship with Rob Kardashian in 2016). One of the clearest manifestations of the consistency of the Kardashian brand can be seen in their persistent alliteration of newly and ever-emerging brand outputs using the letter K. Hence, their launch of a fashion line is branded the Kardashian Kollection. Celebrity scholars Sean Redmond and Su Holmes succinctly describe the phenomenon of celebrity in the current era, in short, as ‘the contemporary state of being famous’ (2007: 8). In this way, they gesture towards the fact that it is not fame itself that is novel in today’s celebrity culture, but rather the forms it takes, the ways in which it manifests and circulates, and the manner and extent of its permeation of media content, platforms and landscapes. In his own explanation of the specificities that mark contemporary iterations of celebrity out from longer-standing historical understandings of the term and the phenomenon, Graeme Turner, in his now canonical treatise on this topic, summarises the state of celebrity in early twenty-first-century media culture in the following way: The contemporary celebrity will usually have emerged from the sports or entertainment industries; they will be highly visible through the media; and their private lives will attract 45

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greater public interest than their professional lives. Unlike that of, say, public officials, the celebrity’s fame does not necessarily depend on the position or achievements that gave them their prominence in the first instance. Rather, once they are established, their fame is likely to have outstripped the claims to prominence developed within that initial location. Indeed, the modern celebrity may claim no special achievements other than the attraction of public attention; think, for instance of the prominence gained for short, intense periods by the contestants on Big Brother or Survivor. As a result, and as the Big Brother example might suggest, most media pundits would argue that celebrities in the twenty first century excite a level of public interest that seems, for one reason or another, disproportionate. (Turner 2004: 4) Turner thus points to the dramatic shift in audience focus to which the contemporary era  – enabled by digital culture after the normalisation of Web 2.0, which has produced the skyrocketing levels of accessibility, visibility and speed of circulation to and of celebrity imagery and discourse – has given rise towards the celebrity’s private person or authentic self, and away from public-sphere activities and accomplishments. He also highlights the importance of newer media forms and genres such as reality television, and the part played by them in producing the multitude of subjectivities that sustain the contemporary celebrity media machine, as well as cognate phenomena such as the fleeting or ephemeral nature of celebrity in the contemporary era, and the intensity and scale of audience engagement with it. All of these things, among others, will be considered in this chapter, which investigates trends, patterns and specificities of celebrity in the contemporary era.

Some major themes in contemporary celebrity studies Celebrity is of course not a phenomenon that is new to our cultures and societies, or in fact to our media cultures. But a paradigm shift has occurred whereby we now speak to the existence of our so-called “celebrity culture” as a matter of course. And it is the ubiquity of celebrity culture in the contemporary era that has made this possible. As Turner notes, “the pervasiveness of celebrity across the modern mass media … encourages us to think of it as a new development, rather than simply the extension of a longstanding condition. The exorbitance of celebrity’s contemporary cultural visibility is […] unprecedented, and the role that the celebrity plays across many aspects of the cultural field has … expanded and multiplied” (2004: 4). It is thus the cross-media expansion and intensification of latter-day celebrity and celebrity-oriented media that Turner points to as a noteworthy development in contemporary popular culture. All the same, there is research-based evidence to suggest that media audiences’ appetite for consuming celebrity discourse has indeed increased in the contemporary era. For example, illustrating the millennial uptick in celebrity media discourse, Anita Biressi and Heather Nunn cite Grame Turner, Frances Bonner and P. David Marshall’s 1997 study of the turn towards celebrity culture in Australia, highlighting “the increase in celebrity coverage in a sample from print and television news media, popular magazines and daytime chat shows” and pointing to findings from their research study that demonstrate that this sample revealed “between two to three times more coverage of celebrities than 20 years before in all of these media products” (Biressi and Nunn 2007a: 136). Such developments have not been welcomed by self-proclaimed cultural gatekeepers. Contemporary celebrity culture has been viewed by some critics through the lens of ‘moral panic’ about the media, wherein the sensibilities of dominant culture are seen to be under threat from a malign presence or development in the media, anxieties about which are escalated 46

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such that they reach the level of official and public discourse (Watson and Hill 2015: 191). An instructive example that illustrates this is the moralistic position adopted by the feature documentary film Starsuckers (dir. Chris Atkins, 2009), which sets about to explore the media’s obsession with celebrity in the contemporary era, working from a set of assumptions that present this state of affairs from the outset as inherently socially destructive, culturally denigrating and ideologically insidious. The film draws on a variety of academic ideas in its attempt to explain and account for some noteworthy phenomena prominent in contemporary celebrity culture, such as child stardom, the celebrity entourage, cultures of fandom in a technologised mediascape, the manufacture and saleability of celebrity gossip, the rise and influence of the public-relations industries, and the relationship between celebrity and contemporary consumer culture. And it does so from a range of perspectives taken from schools of thought in fields spanning evolutionary anthropology, child psychology, the psychology of addiction, sociology, journalism studies, political economy and forensic psychiatry. But with its clear agenda to excoriate contemporary celebrity culture it steers quite clear of many media and cultural studies approaches that offer less straightforwardly condemnatory or pejorative readings of the relationship between celebrity and the experience of everyday life in twenty-first-century society. For this reason, the contemporaneous feature documentary Teenage Paparazzo (dir. Adrian Grenier, 2010)  stands as an interesting counter-example of a factual film that attempts to account for and understand some of the vagaries and particularities of contemporary celebrity culture, making use as it does so of theoretical tools from celebrity studies and beyond in attempting to answer the questions about celebrity in the contemporary era that it poses to itself and its audience. These include Horton and Wohl’s theory of ‘para-social interaction’ (1956) and the para-social relationship to understand the unbalanced nature of the relationship between celebrities and their followers, and Jean Baudrillard’s notion of ‘hyperreality’ (1988) to understand the inauthenticity of some of the versions of self that celebrities present for circulation in the media, distinctly and differently from what is alternatively presented as their ostensibly authentic self. Broadly speaking, Teenage Paparazzo is about the nature of celebrity in the contemporary era; but specifically it is about the prominence of paparazzi photojournalism in contemporary celebrity culture, and the allure of this phenomenon both to followers of celebrity news and gossip, and to aspiring paparazzi such as the titular teenage paparazzo: 14-year-old (at the time of filming) Austin Visschedyck. More specifically, the film is about the unlikely friendship that ensues between filmmaker Grenier and Visschedyck after Grenier sets out to investigate how the boy’s life as a paparazzo came about, the appeal of such proximity to celebrity, and the nature of intensified celebrity culture in the twenty-first century. Grenier is himself a well-known celebrity, best known for being the star (both diegetically and extra-diegetically) of the HBO dramedy series Entourage (2004–2011), which remains one of the richest and most illustrative media fictions of millennial media culture to confront, depict and attempt to deal with some of the features of present-day celebrity in a narrative that was directly premised on doing so. Entourage followed the professional rise to prominence and everyday life as a twenty-first-century Los Angeles celebrity of Vincent Chase (Grenier), and his cadre of hangers-on, enablers and (in some cases) sycophants – the ‘entourage’ of the film’s title. The phenomenon of the ‘entourage’ is another noteworthy feature of celebrity in the contemporary era, and has been usefully succinctly described and defined as a “social hierarchy based around your proximity to anyone well known” (Starsuckers 2009) Correspondingly, one of the most interesting things about Entourage was the light it shed (albeit fictionally) on the operations of the celebrity public-relations industries via its explorations of figures such as celebrities’ agents, 47

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managers, publicists and promoters, and the business practices and logics that pertain to the experience of being a celebrity in the twenty-first century. Joaquín Phoenix is another contemporary celebrity who, in collaboration with fellow celebrity and filmmaker Casey Affleck, has, like Grenier, made use of the media platform of feature documentary in order to attempt to make a self-reflexive intervention into the status quo of his own place within the Hollywood celebrity machine. As he avers at the outset of I’m Still Here (dir. Casey Affleck, 2010) “I don’t want to play the character of Joaquín any more”. The character he is here referring to was cemented by the persona he had built up over time playing roles defined by their intensity and emotional complexity, most notably his Oscar-nominated performance as iconic country singer Johnny Cash in the biopic Walk the Line (dir. James Mangold, 2005), and the misconceptions this produced in the celebrity mediascape about his ostensibly authentic self. In 2008 Phoenix and Affleck colluded to bait the celebrity media machine and its audience in contriving and staging a hoax ‘celebrity trainwreck’ (Holmes and Negra 2011) centred on Phoenix, his ostensible retirement from acting, his abortive attempt to forge a new career for himself as a recording artist in the hip hop genre, and the apparent unravelling of his mental health and emotional stability, seemingly as a result of the pressures of fame to which he had been subjected as a celebrity in the twenty-first century. Phoenix’s biggest success in creating a ‘celebrity flashpoint’ (Turner, Bonner and Marshall 2000) from his efforts to publicly deconstruct his own persona during this period came following an appearance on the Late Show with David Letterman in February 2009. In his interview with Letterman, which subsequently went viral online, the star’s behaviour, demeanour and appearance were noticeably out of character as he self-presented as eccentric, troubled and misanthropic to the visibly bewildered but nonplussed television chat show host. Having said this, there had, by this point, already been a great deal of speculation in the celebrity news media and beyond that Phoenix’s retirement and bizarre behaviour in public were indeed, as transpired to be the case, a hoax, in service to this public commentary on some of the absurdities and excesses of contemporary celebrity culture, which was subsequently offered up by their completed mockumentary. There is a wide range of variables and contributing factors that interoperate to produce contemporary media cultures that are overwhelmed by celebrity as a discursive category, as a commercial commodity and as an object of consumption. And this can be attributed in part to some of the following things:  the mass distribution of popular culture, media forms and artefacts to which the online environment of the contemporary era has given rise; twentyfirst-century technological advances that have changed the nature of visual and print media culture and the speed at which it circulates; the steady increase in the significance and influence of public relations and promotions to the cultural industries; and the widened scope of possibility for the trans-media saturation of celebrity-oriented fare that has come about as a result of ‘media convergence’ (Jenkins 2001). This, as Marcel Danesi argues, has seen ‘the erosion of traditional distinctions among media due to concentration of ownership, globalization, and audience fragmentation; the process by which formerly separate technologies such as television and the telephone are brought together by a common technological base (digitization) or a common industrial strategy’ (2008: 290). Cultural theorist Daniel Boorstin was prescient about the mediation of celebrity in the contemporary era when he theorised what he termed the ‘pseudo-event’ (1962) as ‘an event planned and staged entirely for the media, which accrues significance through the scale of its media coverage rather than through any more disinterested assessment of its importance’ (Turner 2004: 5). Where the focus of attention in this scenario is the figure of the celebrity, the logical progression is thus, as indicated above, to the ‘human pseudo-event’ (Turner, Bonner and 48

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Marshall 2000: 3–5). This kind of event, in line with some of what is described above about the production of I’m Still Here, is similarly ‘fabricated for the media and evaluated in terms of the scale and effectiveness of [its] media visibility’ (Turner 2004: 5). More noteworthy instances of this from early twenty-first-century celebrity culture include the respectively global media circuses that accompanied, for example, pop singer Justin Timberlake’s onstage exposure of fellow singing star Janet Jackson’s breast, and the event status accorded to her brother pop star Michael Jackson’s press conference which he had called for in order to announce his then forthcoming live shows in London. The former incident took place on 1st February 2004 as part of the half-time show at that year’s Superbowl – the biggest media event on the American football calendar. During their duo performance of Timberlake’s hit ‘Rock Your Body’, and at the point at which he delivered the lyric “I’m gonna have you naked by the end of this song”, he ripped off part of Jackson’s costume to briefly expose her right breast, part of which was concealed by a carefully placed piece of jewellery, cementing the assumption – widespread at the time – that this had been a contrived and choreographed part of their act. The flashpoint that ensued from the media coverage that this stage-managed event generated caused the phrase ‘wardrobe malfunction’ to enter the popular cultural lexicon to a level of normalisation that has transcended its original context, while the desire for instant access to and the repeatability of the video clip that depicted this moment is alleged to have inspired PayPal worker Jawed Karim to collaborate with colleagues to enable this, and thereafter to create and found the streamed video platform YouTube (Landau 2016: 51), a paradigm-shifting development in contemporary celebrity culture in many ways, and for a number of reasons. For example, as Sean Redmond writes, in reference to part of what has been game-changing about the interventions made in audience experiences of celebrity by platforms such as YouTube: “The modern electronic media present and re-present the different phases that a celebrity may have gone through, through the way digital data, mobile platforms and cloud servers hold these moments in time in parallel and multi-temporal streams” (2014: 119). Redmond offers up the example of Miley Cyrus, who in this way exists in media culture simultaneously as a Disney child star, a tween culture icon, and a full-fledged adult pop star with a number of different iterative personae, thanks in part to the normalisation of digital media and of users’ proclivities for platforms such as YouTube. Returning to the aforementioned examples of so-called ‘human pseudo-events’, when Michael Jackson called a pre-arranged press conference in March 2009, the world’s media and two thousand of Jackson’s fans gathered in London at the Grand Concourse of the O2 concert arena to hear him announce a series of forthcoming dates. Footage of the press conference then saturated the mainstream news media and beyond on a global scale, ostensibly affording major world event status to Jackson’s announcement. The spectacle of the media circus attendant to this contrived publicity event thus constitutes ‘pseudo-event’ status, according to Boorstin’s characterisation of the phenomenon, while the enormity of Jackson’s public profile was such that the event (bolstered of course by the baggage carried by the longer history of his stardom and celebrity) afforded him the status of ‘human pseudo-event’. Notwithstanding the above-stated importance to celebrity in the contemporary era of agents, managers, publicists and other kinds of public-relations personnel, all of whom play concrete roles in staging and managing these kinds of ‘human pseudo-events’, there are nonetheless instances, albeit unusual ones, of celebrity events that cannot (in the first instance) be contrived, and cannot be predicted. Turner, Bonner and Marshall refer to such phenomena as “unpredictable eruptive events which suddenly [break] free of this form of management to become ‘real’ or uncontrolled events – for many, genuinely moving events – within our everyday lives” (2000: 4) And here we arrive at the cognate notion of what they call the celebrity ‘flashpoint’, explaining that 49

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‘[i]ncreasingly, we encounter ‘flashpoints’ in contemporary culture, where a particular celebrity completely dominates media coverage, producing an excessively focused global public’ (2000: 3) As a pertinent, illustrative and instructive example, they point to the death on 31st August 1997 of Diana Princess of Wales as one such flashpoint. As the authors explain: the story’s exorbitant visibility broke out of all the available classifications. It was simply uncontainable as news, as obituary, as identity politics, as entertainment, as myth or narrative, or as gossip. It dominated the ‘quality’ newspapers as well as the mass-market magazines and tabloids. Through all these avenues, the images which had created Diana’s highly public life – the cover girl, the tabloid telephoto revelations, the official royal video footage, the romances – were replayed and reinterpreted. (2000: 3; see also Turnock 2000; Shome 2014; Schwartz 2015) The global media phenomenon that ensued in the aftermath of Diana’s death is thus useful in applying and understanding the concept of the celebrity ‘flashpoint’. Moreover, the mediated spectacles attendant to the sudden or (relatively) unexpected deaths of extremely high-profile celebrities often epitomise this concept in a number of ways, including the ‘exorbitant visibility’ of the event in the public sphere, its ‘uncontainability’ as a news story and its pervasion of both ‘quality’ publications and ‘mass-market magazines and tabloids’, not to mention the immeasurable multiplicity of online news and gossip outlets. Thinking about more recent examples than Diana Princess of Wales, the media responses to the deaths of Michael Jackson in June 2009 (before he had the opportunity to play any of the aforementioned concert dates) and Amy Winehouse in July 2011 both fit this model well. These are just some of the major claims about celebrity in the contemporary era that have been made by scholars from across a number of disciplines, and by just some of the key contributors to this field of study.There are of course a number of further key developments in cultures of celebrity that have informed the ever-shifting cultural terrain through which contemporary celebrity discourse circulates in the digital and online era, and the necessity of negotiating discourses of authenticity around celebrities and their public identities is one other particularly noteworthy aspect of cultures of celebrity in the contemporary era.

Emerging themes in the twenty-first century Promises of (mediated, often disingenuously self-presenting as unmediated) access to the ostensibly ‘true’ selves and identities of celebrities have intensified alongside the early twenty-first-century proliferation of the tabloid, reality and scandal forms of media that permeate contemporary popular culture, as well as the changing nature of the relationship between celebrities and consumers of popular culture that has been brought about by the global normalisation of online social media and networks. As Biressi and Nunn write, “What is new is the discourse of selfdisclosure and authenticity enabled by [then] new television formats such as docu-soaps, reality TV and lifestyle programming that allow ordinary people a narrative of self-improvement and empowerment via personal self-disclosure and revelation of one’s authentic self ” (2007a: 138). This concern with authenticity speaks to the notion that the celebrity persona is a highly constructed mediation. And thus that it is inauthentic as a presentation of self, as well as increasing audience awareness of this. Hence, as Biressi and Nunn go on to highlight, where there is marked public interest in celebrity individuals with noticeably high levels of constructed artifice and with inauthentic personae, it ‘is aroused by the desire to penetrate (through media coverage) that construction and gain access to some essential truth about that celebrity’ (2007a: 138). 50

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Another structuring discourse of celebrity in the contemporary era is that of democratisation (Andrejevic 2002: 268) – the idea that developments in latter-day celebrity culture have produced a more level playing field that has increased the number of ways and means by which ostensibly ordinary individuals might attain celebrity status, heretofore the preserve of elites of different kinds. Biressi and Nunn refer to this shift as representing a ‘kind of democratisation of the public sphere’ (2007a: 138). We can thus understand this both in terms of the supposedly democratised access to celebrity status that such developments have heralded for aspirant celebrities, as well as in terms of increased agency on the part of media audiences, users and consumers to decide which individuals to single out for the kind of special attention germane to celebrity status, and to effect their elevation to celebrity, whether in cahoots with the cultural industries and their economic interests, or independently of them. As Biressi and Nunn explain further: ‘Some critics argue that the new electronic media have enhanced both the individual’s and the audience’s ability to decide who should become a celebrity. Reality television programmes such as Big Brother and The X-Factor enable the public’s direct vote for their winning aspirant celebrity’ (2007a: 138). Arguably no media flashpoint did more to initiate a cultural shift toward the above-mentioned ‘tabloid culture’ (Glynn 2000; Biressi and Nunn 2007a) that has come to modally dominate the mediation of early twenty-first-century celebrity than did the widespread and interminable mediation of the arrest, prosecution and trial of former American football star and film and television personality OJ Simpson in the mid-1990s (Glynn 2000, 2007).This became what cultural theorist Douglas Kellner termed a ‘mega-spectacle’ (2003) and signalled an important shift in media culture towards vis-à-vis the discursive prominence of celebrity and concomitantly the modal dominance of tabloids. According to Kellner the media circus and celebrity flashpoint that was the OJ Simpson trial heralded a transformation in media cultures of current affairs reportage in that it prompted a shift from ‘news’ to ‘infotainment’ (2003: 96) as it was broadcast live and daily on television platforms such as CNN, which was and is ostensibly a news channel, and E!, which was and is ostensibly an entertainment channel (Barron 2015: 166). As Kellner writes, significantly the OJ Simpson event was also “a celebrity spectacle … with the tabloids and mainstream media alike focused on every detail of Simpson’s life and the coverage creating new celebrities with every twist and turn of the investigation and trial” (2003: 99). These included witnesses (e.g. Brian Kato Kaelin, Simpson’s neighbour, who became an actor and personality on US radio and TV), members of the judiciary (e.g. Judge Lance Ito, defence attorney Johnny Cochrane and prosecutor Marcia Clark, each of who became household names and objects of media scrutiny in the US tabloids and beyond), and friends and family of the relevant parties (e.g. Robert Kardashian, whose friendship with OJ Simpson gave his family exposure to celebrities and their lifestyles, and was arguably the catalyst for the elevation of his family to global celebrity status, albeit long after his death in 2003). Su Holmes and Diane Negra point to the mid-2000s as another important turning point moment for contemporary celebrity culture in that it gave rise to ‘a period of highly discursive activity, across a range of media platforms, regarding the figure of the so-called female celebrity “trainwreck” ’ (2008: 2), wherein the celebrity gossip media machine and its audiences take an intense and prurient interest in observing and documenting the decline (i.e. in physical or mental/emotional health and stability, in financial solvency, in popularity, etc.) and public fall from grace of a heretofore admired or revered or popular female celebrity. Emphasising the extent to which they view this phenomenon as a markedly gendered one, they point to the death of Hollywood star Heath Ledger in 2008 and the suicide attempt made by fellow Hollywood star Owen Wilson in 2007 as counterpoint examples that illustrate the relative restraint with which male celebrities’ breakdowns are covered in the media, 51

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and the relative dignity afforded to their ordeals in this coverage. This is especially apparent when they are compared and contrasted with equivalent coverage of troubled periods for female celebrities like Britney Spears, Lindsay Lohan, Paris Hilton, Amy Winehouse, Jessica Simpson, Miley Cyrus and Amanda Bynes. Pop star Britney Spears’s publicly mediated meltdown, which reached its peak in the celebrity gossip media when she was filmed and photographed having her head shaved in February 2007 (Luckett 2010), is one of the betterknown examples of the phenomenon of the female celebrity train wreck. Asif Kapadia’s documentary biopic Amy (2015) charts the process of celebritisation of the late pop star Amy Winehouse that accompanied the release and success of her Back to Black album in 2006. This saw her increasingly subject to intense scrutiny by the celebrity gossip media, tabloid press and paparazzi photographers as her success as a recording artist and performer increased, and her mental health, emotional stability and general well-being declined dramatically as her substance abuse (in her case both alcohol and drugs) intensified, and she was forced to live her personal life with her husband Blake Fielder-Civil in the public eye. All of this, as is well known, ultimately culminated in her death from alcohol poisoning in 2011 at the age of 27, and raised a number of questions in the popular commentariat and beyond about what is at stake and for whom in the operations and practices of the celebrity-gossip-oriented media industries, and the pitfalls of intensified fame in contemporary celebrity culture. Graeme Turner points to another key development in contemporary celebrity culture that he characterises in terms of what he calls the ‘demotic turn’ (2004), whereby ever-increasing numbers and proportions of ostensibly heretofore ‘ordinary’ people are equipped with different kinds of means, motivations and opportunities to attain celebrity status, and to participate as agents in as well as consumers of celebrity culture. Some of the arenas that he points to by way of illustration and elaboration include the latter-day proliferation of things like reality TV (especially competitive forms of reality TV that consciously invest in their own manufacture of new celebrity figures in arenas ranging from pop music, i.e. the X-Factor, Idol and Voice franchises, to the business world, i.e. the Apprentice franchises, and cheffing, cooking and baking, i.e. the MasterChef, Bake-Off and Come Dine With Me franchises), and online platforms (especially streaming sites like YouTube and Daily Motion, which have given rise to the celebrity of individuals ranging from pop star Justin Bieber to fashion and beauty vlogger Zoella). The rise to prominence of reality television as a normalised and abundantly produced form of media has, over time, revealed itself to have been a highly significant development in enabling particular formations of contemporary celebrity to flourish in the contemporary media environment. On the one hand, it has provided innumerable avenues of possibility for aspirant celebrities from amongst the rank and file of so-called ‘ordinary’ people, for who fame is no longer something out of reach reserved only for the extraordinary, the exceptional, the privileged, the uniquely talented or the singularly lucky, but rather appears attainable and realisable as a life goal, achievable by potentially anyone, while on the other hand, it has provided equally numerous opportunities for pre-existing celebrities to adapt to the changing requirements of celebrity culture by providing increased access to their ostensibly ‘authentic’ selves via reality-television formats, capitalising on new forms of celebrity currency to enhance their media visibility, and often reviving moribund careers by using the intimacy of reality formats to make the judicious transition from distant star to accessible celebrity that the contemporary era requires of those who would ensure that their public profiles experience longevity and operate with a wide reach in twenty-first-century media culture. With regard to the former, the early years of the kinds of docu-dramas/soaps that would quickly evolve into what we now call reality television produced (relatively fleeting) celebrity status for heretofore ‘ordinary’ members of the public, like driving student Maureen Rees, who emerged as the star of the BBC’s Driving School (1997), and Aeroflot 52

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Airlines ground services manager Jeremy Spake, who emerged as the star of the BBC’s Airport (1996–2008). Su Holmes acknowledges and engages with the ‘cultural decline’ versus ‘populist democracy’ (Evans) debate around which discussions of the rise to prominence of ostensibly ‘ordinary’ people in contemporary cultures of fame have been polarised to discuss the media phenomenon that arose around the rapid ascent to celebrity status of Susan Boyle in 2009 (2010: 74). Boyle was then an unemployed 47-year-old woman from the city of Glasgow in the UK, who was instantly propelled to celebrity status following her first audition on reality TV talent show Britain’s Got Talent (2007). Upon reaching the final, she lost out to another contestant on the night, but nonetheless went on to find enormous commercial success as a singer, recording artist and celebrity. The same series was similarly responsible for the comparable fame of popular/ist opera singer Paul Potts, who even went on to become the subject of a biopic, One Chance (dir. David Frankel, 2013), which narrates the story of his lifelong quest for the niche stardom offered by singing success in the world of opera and his eventual rapid rise to celebrity status as a reality TV singing sensation, and in which he was played by fellow celebrity James Corden. Reality television has also been an efficacious platform for enabling the transition to mainstream celebrity status for performance artists from groups that have heretofore been marginalised from the mainstream, their fame restricted to the subcultural niches afforded by their respective communities. Arguably the most vivid example can be seen in the widespread appeal across demographic groups of RuPaul’s Drag Race (2009), which has, for better or worse depending on your viewpoint, harnessed the currency of reality television to re-situate the historically subcultural performance art of drag queens from the margins to the mainstream, generating bona fide media celebrity status for high-profile and popular performers such as season six winner Bianca Del Rio (the drag persona of performer Roy Haylock), who parlayed her elevated celebrity status into further opportunities, going on to star in the crowd-funded film Hurricane Bianca (dir. Matt Kugelman, 2016), alongside many of her Drag Race contemporaries and a number of prominent figures from wider celebrity culture. The normalisation of social media in the online era has in some ways fundamentally changed the nature of the relationship between celebrities and their fans, and for celebrity studies it has forced a re-evaluation, reconceptualisation and critical augmentation of Horton and Wohl’s notion of ‘parasocial interaction’ (1956). A particularly noteworthy example can be seen in the spectacle that emerged out of events surrounding what was initially termed in US news media reportage as the ‘Hollywood Hills Burglaries’, later dubbed ‘The Bling Ring’ in reference to the luxury personal adornments and attire taken by the eponymous group of youths during their stealing spree at the homes of Los Angeles-based celebrities like Paris Hilton, Lindsay Lohan and Rachel Bilson, to name only some. This phenomenon was subsequently reported in the Vanity Fair article ‘The Suspects Wore Louboutins’ (Sales 2010), the publication of which inspired these events to be dramatized in the film The Bling Ring (dir. Sofia Coppola 2013). The thematisation of celebrity and cultures of fame and notoriety has been a recurring authorial motif of Coppola’s filmmaking. Most of her films, to varying extents and in a number of ways, offer differing meta-commentaries on various aspects of, to re-invoke Holmes and Redmond’s useful phrase again, ‘the contemporary state of being famous’. But The Bling Ring wears its purposeful engagement with celebrity in the contemporary era plainly on its sleeve from the outset, as the opening sequence intercuts between shots of the eponymous group of privileged white youths narcissistically documenting themselves and their social lives on social media sites such as Facebook via a succession of interminable selfies and status updates, and celebrity gossip tabloid news footage of individuals such as the aforementioned Hilton, Lohan and Bilson. From the outset the film thus invites the audience to draw a link between the group’s narcissistic 53

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behaviour, enabled by a combination of socio-economic privilege and social media, their obsession with celebrities and the sense of intimacy that they feel (consciously or otherwise with them), and their criminally anti-social behaviour. The film even goes so far as to blur the lines between reality, its mediation and the mediation of its mediation in the fact that, for example, a scene that recreates the group’s invasion of the home of Paris Hilton, was filmed in Hilton’s actual home, where the events on which the scene is based actually took place. In some ways the film echoes wider society and culture in falling back on familiar discourses that view fan/follower fascination with contemporary celebrity pejoratively, particularly via the character of Nicki (Emma Watson), who is constructed and depicted as a classic narcissist, in line with celebrity theorist Chris Rojek’s claims that the inflation of celebrity has produced a spike in media users who display the symptoms of narcissistic personality disorder, who hero-worship celebrities and their lifestyles, and who stalk celebrities (2012: 35–50), all three of which are applicable to Nicki as she has been rendered in Coppola’s film adaptation of these events. Nicki is thus unsurprisingly shown to take every opportunity that the case presents her with to attain celebrity status for herself, going so far as to express delusional misconceptions about the nature and level of her celebrity status in the aftermath of the group’s apprehension by the LAPD that place her as a celebrity humanitarian alongside the likes of Angelina Jolie. Significantly Jolie is offered up by Nicki’s mother as a role-model figure on these grounds, despite the fact that Nicki is unable to see the worth of Jolie’s celebrity beyond her “hot bod”. The film as a whole, along with the Vanity Fair article that inspired it, is thus premised on the notion that the digital age fosters a relationship between millennial media users and celebrity culture and lifestyles that can and does produce obsessive, anti-social and even in this case criminal behaviour. A useful counterpoint to these kinds of fairly straightforwardly negative assumptions about this relationship is offered up by the findings of work undertaken by scholars Kimberley Allen, Laura Harvey and Heather Mendick from their recent (at the time of writing) ‘Celeb Youth U.K.’ research project. Allen et al. conducted ethnographic research exploring the relationship between young people’s engagement with contemporary celebrity culture and their aspirations for their own futures. Their findings served to debunk a lot of the assumptions that tend to be made about the nature and effects of this engagement, and propagated in high-profile and potentially high-impact spheres – assumptions such as the idea that young people’s aspirations derive from their engagement with celebrity culture and include “to get rich quick” (Allen, Harvey and Mendick 2014). Another phenomenon germane to celebrity in the contemporary era is the arguably niche form of fame termed by Terri Senft as ‘micro-celebrity’ (2008: 25; see also Marwick 2016 for a discussion of how this kind of celebrity operates in social media spheres), most often seen in instances whereby individuals develop celebrity status in specific online spheres and with correspondingly niche but dedicated followings. As Senft writes, ‘While the Web can be used as a platform for traditional celebrity … it cannot create old-fashioned stars of its own. Instead, the web provides the conditions for what I call “micro-celebrity”’ (Senft 2008: 25). For examples of such instances of this so-called ‘micro-celebrity’ we might look to celebrity YouTubers, or ‘weblebrities’ as they are also known, like the six individuals profiled for the feature documentary Butterflies (dir. Esther Brymova, 2009), one of whom, Lucas Cruikshank, had his YouTube persona ‘Fred’ adapted to the context of a mainstream made-for-television feature film (which received a theatrical release in the UK) in Fred: The Movie (dir. Clay Weiner, 2010). Writing in 2008, Senft vividly illustrated the extent to which the celebrity of individuals like these should, in the main (Cruikshank is a noteworthy exception), be considered niche when she averred that ‘in terms of both raw audience numbers and economic gain, Web stars pale in comparison to even ‘D’ list performers in the film, television and music industries’ (p. 25). 54

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Concluding comments: new frontiers Contemporary celebrity culture has also seen some noteworthy developments in the area of celebrity coupledom, kinship, dynasties and intimacies. As Shelley Cobb and Neil Ewen highlight in their prescient anthology First Comes Love, the tabloid and gossip media omnipresence of the celebrity portmanteau is a signature feature of the fascination with and discursive prominence of coupledom in celebrity culture of the contemporary era. The term ‘portmanteau’ refers to the conflation of two distinct terms or epithets to create one new one, which has acquired new and distinct meaning in this act of conflation. Hence, where contemporary-era celebrities are concerned, the new meaning carried by the portmanteau tends in the main to signify romantic partnership and/or long term coupledom, e.g. ‘Brangelina’ (Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie), TomKat (Tom Cruise and Katie Holmes), Bennifer (Ben Affleck and Jennifer Lopez/ Garner), Robsten (Robert Pattinson and Kristen Stewart), Kimye (Kim Kardashian and Kanye West) and Hiddleswift (Tom Hiddleston and Taylor Swift) to name only some of those that have to date been the most ubiquitous in media discourse (Díaz 2015; Negra 2015). But media and audience attention to the kinship structures of contemporary celebrities has not been limited to the romantic partnership of couples; in some noteworthy cases the celebrity of larger family units has operated and signified under the banner of what Rachel Dwyer, referring to the multigenerational Bollywood stardom of Indian cinema A-listers the Kapoors, has termed ‘dynastic stardom’ (2015). In contemporary Anglophone cultures of cross-media celebrity, particularly prominent examples include the Kardashians, the Beckhams and the Smiths, to name only some. The figure of the celebrity philanthropist and the celebrity humanitarian has almost emerged with unprecedented levels of discursive prominence in contemporary culture (see Wilson 2014, who theorises this phenomenon in terms of its status as a form of ‘global citizenship’). Contemporary-era flashpoints in the mediation of celebrity humanitarianism have included those that have emerged from, for example, the decision by Hollywood actors Angelina Jolie and Brad Pitt that their daughter Shiloh would be born in Namibia, which she was in 2006, and pop icon Madonna’s decision to adopt baby David Banda (amidst considerable controversy) in Malawi in 2006. In both cases, these celebrity flashpoints both followed and preceded periods of time spent by the celebrities in question engaged in humanitarian awareness-raising activities and acts of philanthropy in these places. Other examples include George Clooney’s activities in Darfur, specifically the celebrity flashpoint that arose from his participation in the Save Darfur Coalition Press Conference on 15th December 2006, and Sean Penn’s attraction of media attention to his relief activities in New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina in 2005 and then later after the devastating earthquake in Haiti in 2010. The power of celebrity was also harnessed in ostensible service to the causes of global humanitarianism via the worldwide mediation of relief concerts Live Aid, Live 8 and via the high media profile of the Make Poverty History coalition, and the Not On Our Watch Charity. The noteworthy features of celebrity in the contemporary era are too numerous and too far-reaching to be fully accounted for in a chapter of this length. And there remains much to say and think about that it is beyond the scope of this chapter to be able to address: for example, the increased visibility and cultural prominence in contemporary media culture of older celebrities (see Jermyn 2012), of ‘celesbians’ (see Heller 2014; Cobb 2015), ‘gal pals’ (see McBean 2016) and transgender/non-cisgender celebrities (see Brady 2016), and of celebrity feminism/feminist celebrities (see Hamad and Taylor 2015; Taylor 2017). Celebrity may be far from a new phenomenon in and of itself but, as I hope to have demonstrated in this chapter, there are many new and recent celebrity phenomena investigation of which sheds light on much that is noteworthy about contemporary culture and the media in the twenty-first century. 55

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4 Postmodern theories of celebrity Lee Barron

Introduction: classic ideas, contemporary celebrity culture While the tenets of postmodernism, in its diverse theoretical forms, articulate a wide spectrum of social, individual and epistemic features, factors such as economic and cultural configurations, identity, media technologies and media consumption are common constituents. Although, in the view of many commentators, postmodernism’s ‘heyday’ as a pervasive mode of sociological and philosophical theory was the 1980s, its ethos and expression can be contemporaneously reflected within celebrity culture. This is because the lives of the famous are now central components of media output, dominating journalistic news culture (to the extent of raising professional fears that it is progressively eclipsing hard news coverage), from professional activities to global news coverage of events such as the birth and subsequent naming of Kim Kardashian and Kanye West’s second child, Saint, in December 2015. Furthermore, celebrity discourse is an omnipresent element across social media platforms, where their professional and personal activities are continuously visualised, analysed and commented upon (from peons of devotion to aggressive and vitriolic ‘trolling’).Yet, such platforms (Facebook, Twitter or Instagram) are also stages from which celebrities such as Katy Perry, Lady Gaga, Justin Bieber, Taylor Swift or Rihanna incessantly post their own messages and images to tens of millions of followers across the globe. Moreover, in addition to the relentless circulation of celebrity images, television genres such as reality TV have established new pantheons of ‘ordinary’ celebrities whose public identities exist in a middle-​state of constructed reality between their real lives and contrived, edited and directed activities (indeed, the distinctively Baudrillardian phrase ‘constructed reality’ is now the given term for reality TV shows such as the series The Only Way Is Essex and Made in Chelsea). Within this chapter, therefore, the relationship between postmodernism, postmodernist ideas and celebrity will be explored in two distinctive ways. Firstly, the chapter will examine examples of commentators who have applied postmodern ideas to celebrity, and secondly, the chapter will examine the ways in which particular examples of celebrities drawn from contemporary discourses reflect key postmodernist ideas, especially those in relation to identity, media and economic production. As such, through reference to figures such as Lana Del Rey, Miley Cyrus and the Kardashians the chapter will illustrate the ways in which postmodern ideas (drawn from

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theorists such as Frederic Jameson, David Harvey and Jean Baudrillard) retain a currency and validity in relation to the contours of twenty-​first-​century celebrity culture.

Revisiting postmodernism Postmodernism is typically associated with a diverse body of thought that gained intellectual prominence from the 1960s ‘post-​structuralist turn’ and is based on the work of theorists such as Michel Foucault, Jacques Derrida, Jean Baudrillard, Jean-​Francois Lyotard, Donna Haraway, Paul Virilio and Judith Butler. Broadly, postmodernism is an intellectual tradition concerned with the breaking apart of modernity, especially the aspect of modernity that was infused with the values and ideals of the European Enlightenment movement from the late seventeenth century, which sought to break away from religious thought and champion individualism and, through empirical scientific methods, reason. Hence, in opposition to the search for one objective epistemological world-​view, postmodernism would, alternatively, stress an anti-​foundational approach to understanding that rejected universalism in favour of plurality, arguing that there can never be a single or over-​arching correct viewpoint with regard to the concept of truth. This latter point is the central thesis of Jean-​Francois Lyotard’s classic text, The Postmodern Condition. In outlining the essence of his position, Lyotard states of his work and postmodern outlook: The object of this study is the condition of knowledge in the most highly developed societies. I have decided to use the word postmodern to describe that condition … it designates the state of our culture following the transformations which, since the end of the nineteenth century, have altered the game rules for science, literature, and the arts. (1986: xxiii) In the view of Walter Truett Anderson (1996), postmodernism can be reduced to four key ‘corners’ of thematic interest as, although a diverse approach, it arguably coalesced around factors such as the self, ethics, globalisation and (as Lyotard also observed), art and culture. Of the latter category, Truett Anderson argues, its postmodernist qualities are based upon the ways in which there is no dominant aesthetic style as there are, alternatively, boundless forms of cultural and thematic artefacts that are the product of the active combinations of traditions, rituals or myths. Consequently, this sensibility would become discernible at the level of culture, from the cinema of David Lynch, the fiction of Thomas Pynchon, Italo Calvino, John Barth, Umberto Eco and Robert Joseph Shea and Robert Anton Wilson, or the art of Andy Warhol, Gilbert and George and Julian Schnabel. In the view of Scott Lash, postmodernism constituted a cultural paradigm which, like all paradigms (deriving from Kuhn’s notion of ever-​changing evolving scientific archetypes), is temporary, as they ‘take shape, persist for a duration, and then disintegrate’ (1990: 4). Indeed, in the view of Lash, the postmodern paradigm hit its ‘high-​water mark’ in the 1980s, and, having achieved this temporal moment of fame, it has now become ‘something of a resounding cliché’ (1990: 1). Nevertheless, while the stylistic elements of postmodernism have persisted beyond the 1980s in sporadic generic ways (the popularity of Hip-​Hop and its use of sampling, films such as the Scream series, the oeuvre of Quentin Tarantino, The Matrix trilogy, or the fiction of Douglas Coupland, Zadie Smith or Jonathan Coe), a potent and visible expression of postmodernist culture throughout the 1990s and into the twenty-​first century is arguably that of celebrity, a culture predicated upon media spectacle. Moreover, it is a cultural configuration that accords keenly

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with Truett Anderson’s key corners of postmodernism, as Sean Redmond, describing the nature of contemporary celebrity culture, illustrates: Celebrity matters because it exists so centrally to the way we communicate and are understood to communicate with one another in the modern world. Celebrity culture involves the transmission of power relations, is connected to identity formation and notions of shared belonging; and it circulates in commercial revenue streams and in an international context where celebrated people are seen not to be bound by national borders or geographical prisms. (2014: 3) Here, then, the fundamental ‘corners’ of postmodernism are not only alive and well within contemporary popular culture, they also reflect key aspects of modern celebrity culture in acute and incisive ways, a factor that has been explored by a number of commentators.

Postmodernism, fame and media The essence of culture in a postmodern world, argues McKenzie Wark (1999), is that it equates to that of a media culture, a factor that Mark Bartholomew (2011) contends is central to the nature of contemporary celebrity. As Bartholomew asserts, in the nineteenth and early-​to-​mid twentieth centuries the concept of fame was habitually linked to meritorious achievement, the ‘hero’ of Daniel Boorstin’s classic analysis of fame within his book, The Image, heroes, such as Jesus, Joan of Arc, Shakespeare,Washington, Napoleon or Abraham Lincoln –​individuals marked by achievements of ‘greatness’. Such was the general perception of fame as an earned status based upon merit or talent that Bartholomew argues that the general public assumed no expectation of appearing within the media as they believed celebrity equated with accomplishment, not mere media-​created publicity. In this regard, Hollywood studios established a distinctly ‘aristocratic’ perception of celebrity, with studios strictly controlling media coverage of the lives of stars in order to portray them as a form of “royalty”. Still, this untouchable status progressively gave way as celebrities began to become intimately connected with advertising and non-​film business/​ product promotion in order to inspire public consumption behaviour. As such, studios began to represent stars as relatable figures, but ones in possession of a rare combination of talent and star quality so that leading actors and actresses ‘were portrayed as having an inner charisma that made them deserving of celebrity, while still possessing the same interests as the general public’ (2011: 348). But, as celebrity culture progressed through the twentieth century the rootedness of achievement as the basis of celebrity gradually diminished, principally, argues Bartholomew, due to the increase in media channels that required an increased number of celebrities to populate them. More significantly, the notion of greatness became disengaged from celebrity, dramatically widening the scope of those who could be considered celebrity figures, such as ‘the wife of auto-​ executive John DeLorean who became famous in the 1980s merely because she had a husband who was arrested for dealing cocaine’ (2011: 350). Such an example reflects a common seam of media-​created celebrity (albeit of a temporary form) that Chris Rojek has termed the ‘celetoid’ –​ the individual who achieves short-​lived fame in the form of ‘lottery winners, one-​hit wonders, stalkers, whistle-​blowers, sports’ arena streakers, have-​a-​go-​heroes, mistresses of public figures’ (2001: 21). Immersive media technologies and entertainment mediums led the postmodern theorist Jean Baudrillard to speak of cultures marked by ever-​increasing levels of involvement with media forms (most notably television) leading to a condition of confusion between the real and 60

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a mediated form of reality, or what Baudrillard (1994) famously labelled ‘hyperreality’.This concept of implosion is a quality that is inherent within postmodernist readings of celebrity culture, as Wark states of the ‘ontology’ of celebrities: They are the embodiment of actions, statements, stories, about how someone with some mix of ordinary and extraordinary qualities responded to events that happened around them, and made something happen out of those circumstances. The lives of celebrities are fables in which they appear as worthy of the events that happen to them. (1999: 50) Wark continues by stressing that although celebrities clearly are human beings like any other, a key difference lies in how their images can become detached from them and circulated and consumed across a range of media forms, from posters and TV screens, and fashion magazines to online forums which bring ‘images of celebrity into any and every corner of our private lives’ (1999:  59). This perception is linked firmly with the tropes of postmodernism identified by Rosemary J. Coombe, who perceives celebrity image as an inherently polysemic construction and which is the product of numerous agencies that range from studios, public relations agencies and journalists, to lawyers and personal trainers. Consequently, the ‘celebrity image is a cultural lode of multiple meanings, mined for its symbolic resonances and, simultaneously, a floating signifier, invested with libidinal energies, social longings and political aspirations’ (1992: 365). This latter point that Coombes makes with regard to political aspirations is one that has been developed in relation to postmodernism and celebrity and well into the twenty-​first century. For example, William Babcock and Virginia Whitehouse argue that the election of action movie star Arnold Schwarzenegger to the position of Governor of California in 2004 was a distinctly postmodern phenomenon because it represented the distinctive fusion of ‘incongruent reality and disdain for predetermined definitions of authority’ (2005: 177). In the case of Schwarzenegger’s political campaign and subsequent election, Babcock and Whitehouse argue that within news media coverage an idiosyncratic fusion of his image routinely occurred to the extent that within journalistic discourses there was little to no distinction regarding the degree of credibility he had as an action-​hero-​turned-​Governor. To explain this from a postmodern position, Babcock and Whitehouse evoke Baudrillard’s concept of hyperreality to explore the degree to which truth/​untruth/​credibility merged to the point of being irrelevant, to the point in which Schwarzenegger was a candidate who possessed uniquely ‘hyperreal credentials’. As Babcock and Whitehouse explain: Celebrities in American politics did not begin with [Schwarzenegger]. Ronald Reagan’s “B”-​movie career and brief stint as radio sports announcer are well-​known, as are Clint Eastwood’s brief tenure as mayor of Carmel, California, and Sonny Bono’s election to the U.S. House of Representatives.There was also Jesse Ventura’s term as governor of Minnesota. Ventura, who had made a career of faking athleticism as a professional wrestler …. However, Ventura connected with first-​time voters by using both a successfully quirky ad campaign and the Internet, constantly reminding voters of his celebrity wrestling past. (2005: 180) The blurring of public personas and links to celebrity images, argue Babcock and Whitehouse, was the key postmodern element of Schwarzenegger’s campaign, which was the result of the incumbent governor, Gray Davis, being recalled from office by disgruntled Californians. However, although 100 candidates initially attempted to secure the ballot, Arnold Schwarzenegger was the 61

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most dramatic, and his announcement was made in an extended slot on the Tonight Show, an entertainment show that typically would show little to no interest in gubernatorial politics. Furthermore, such was the fusion of ‘Schwarzenegger the action hero’ and ‘Schwarzenegger the political candidate’ that when potentially scandalous media revelations emerged about the star (allegations of past groping behaviour with women, or his disclosure in youth that he admired dictators, including Adolf Hitler), the stories did nothing to damage his voter support-​base, indeed, it was the contrary as ‘the late-​breaking charges seemed to earn him sympathy, with voters being more upset with The Los Angeles Times for publishing his misdeeds than with Schwarzenegger for acknowledging them’ (2005:  184). Alternatively, due to the star’s global celebrity, political advertising played a minor role in communicating Schwarzenegger’s electoral messages as the media extensively reported his political stance and civic promises, finding expression to millions of viewers within the likes of Access Hollywood and Entertainment Tonight, both of which usually disavowed political coverage, but covered the Californian election because of Schwarzenegger’s celebrity status. While Babcock and Whitehouse acknowledge that the election of Arnold Schwarzenegger to the position of Governor of California represents an atypical example of a globally recognised celebrity attaining electorally sanctioned political office, it is a process that has become more common and it flags the negative aspects of an apparent media-​dominated postmodern culture in which political journalism is pushed aside by infotainment sources that focus excessively upon populist candidates. A  result of this culture is that the ‘postmodern media consumer and therefore the media industry itself valorises the unusual over the rational, and novelty for nothing other than novelty’s sake’ (2005: 188). This process has indeed continued as the links between celebrity and politics are routinely blurred, and, although rarely taking the form of elected official roles, numerous celebrities, such as Bob Geldof, Bono, George Clooney, Matt Damon, Leonardo DiCaprio, Angelina Jolie and Mia Farrow, have merged their celebrity identities with their personal political sensibilities, leading to the view that a definitive process of the ‘celebritisation’ of politics has occurred, in which they are significant advocates and diplomats (Budabin 2015). The manner in which Schwarzenegger’s candidacy announcement created such media coverage due to his celebrity status has been echoed in the similar media communication of the property entrepreneur and Reality TV star, Donald Trump, and his run in 2015 for the Republican nomination for the 2016 US presidential election. Trump’s campaign has, inevitably, garnered widespread and continual media coverage since its beginning, but it has taken a much more intense and multi-​channelled form given Trump’s outspoken public persona (as exhibited on The Apprentice), but this has been intensified through his frequent uncompromising and controversial statements on issues such as illegal migrants, Syrian refugees and proposing bans on Muslims entering the US (in the wake of the 13 November 2015 Paris attacks carried out by IS). Trump’s campaign became a globally mediated spectacle that covers distinctive ideological positions (from conservative support, to petitions to ban Trump from entering the UK because of his ‘hate speech’), stressing the continuation of what Schulz (2001), with reference to what the WWE wrestler turned Minnesota Governor, Jesse Ventura, has called postmodern ‘politainment’.

Postmodern celebrity identities revisited Exploring the dimensions of the ‘four corners’ of postmodernism further with regard to contemporary celebrity, the issue of identity is a central one within postmodern theories of everyday life, underpinned by the argument that the shift from a social condition of modernity to one 62

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of postmodernity has resulted in a stable and fixed sense of identity transforming into a multi-​ faceted and mutable sense of self which reflects the vertiginous nature of postmodern societies. In the view of Douglas Kellner, within traditional societies identity was typically perceived to be a stable aspect of the individual in which an individual was ‘born and died a member of one’s clan, a member of a fixed kinship system, and a member of one’s tribe or group with one’s life trajectory fixed in advance’ (1992: 141). And while within the later ‘age of modernity’ identity became more mobile in relation to the numerous roles a person would adopt in the course of their daily lives (mother, worker, political activist), nevertheless a core identity still anchored these multiple roles, an identity that was immutable. Nonetheless, given that the nature of the postmodern condition is one of a quickened speed of living and communication and ever more complex social configurations subject to continual transformation, the identities of social actors have inevitably reflected this condition, with the result that ‘as the pace, extension, and complexity of modern societies accelerate, identity becomes more and more unstable, more and more fragile’, and the result of this is that ‘identity is a game that one plays, so that one can easily shift from one identity to another’ (1992: 153). As such, in the view of the sociologist Stuart Hall, the postmodern condition has inevitably created a distinctive ‘postmodern subject’ which possesses no basis for any kind of fixed, elemental or enduring sense of self. Consequently, Hall argues that within postmodern societies: Identity becomes a ‘moveable feast’: formed and transformed continuously in relation to the ways we are represented or addressed in the cultural systems which surround us. It is historically, not biologically, defined. The subject assumes different identities at different times, identities which are not unified around a coherent ‘self.’ Within us are contradictory identities, pulling in different directions, so that our identifications are continuously being shifted about. If we feel we have a unified identity from birth to death, it is only because we construct a comforting story of ‘narrative of the self ’ about ourselves. The fully unified, completed, secure and coherent identity is a fantasy. (1992: 277) Henceforth, in lieu of a from-​cradle-​to-​g rave unchanging identity (what Hall refers to as the ‘Enlightenment’ conception of fixed identity), the postmodern identity is, Kellner argues, a self that is actively and continually created and re-​created as a theatrical activity, a process of perpetual role-​playing and incessant image construction to match the ever-​changing ‘winds of fashion’. In light of this perception of a mobile identity that can transform and be transformed effortlessly through fashion and the utilisation of recognised symbols of consumer consumption, it is no surprise that the idea of the postmodern self as a general social condition has long been critiqued. Typically, this has taken the form of Marxist-​inspired attacks which question the degree to which those who lack material wealth could routinely purchase their identities from luxury fashion retailers, and then readily discard them to construct further identities. In essence, then, the conception of the postmodern identity as an everyday project of ceaseless creative play is held to be nothing more than a baseless and naïve postmodernist fantasy. While this perception of identity may be an unrealistic view of self in relation to everyday social actors, it is a significant element of celebrity identity; indeed, as Wark states, it may well be a requirement for a viable and enduring public persona because, in order to stay relevant within popular culture and media discourses, ‘professional celebrity requires a constant reinvention’ (1999: 10). To illustrate, Wark cites the pop and rock singers David Bowie, Madonna and Kylie Minogue as prime examples of performers whose careers have been characterised by a 63

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constant state of flux marked by a parade of public image/​persona evolutions. As a result of such transformative personae (motivated by artistic goals, but a strategy to offset image fatigue that could result in cultural redundancy), audiences connect not with the essential self of the celebrity, but with their various characters. As Coombe states of Madonna, since the beginning of her career she was recognised not as a stable performative performer, but as a ‘cluster of signs’, an ‘icon whose meaning and value lie partially in its evocation and ironic reconfiguration of several twentieth-​century sex-​goddesses and ice-​queens (Marilyn Monroe obviously, but also Jean Harlow, Greta Garbo, and Marlene Dietrich) that speaks with multiple tongues to diverse audiences’ (1992: 371). Madonna of course represents a classic exemplar of cultural postmodernism (and she has undergone countless image revamps since Coombes’s analysis, from ‘New Age’, ‘Country’ and ‘Hip-​Hop’, to her current ‘Rebel Heart’ theme). So, as Georges-​Claude Guilbert observes, Madonna has long represented a ‘polyvalent artist’ who dynamically combines ‘genres and genders’ and has consistently presented a public persona that conveys a self-​knowing use of ‘irony and self-​derision’ (2002: 38–​40). While celebrities with the ceaseless avowedly postmodern chameleon-​quality of Madonna are uncommon within popular culture, nevertheless, the issue of transformative identities within celebrity culture has endured, and is evident within the current popular music landscape. A prime example of a contemporary performer whose image is also one of flux is undoubtedly Lady Gaga, the performative persona of Stefani Germanotta, who rose to cultural and commercial prominence in 2008 with the release of The Fame album and subsequent global hit songs and albums such as ‘Poker Face’, ‘Bad Romance’, ‘Born This Way’, ‘Applause’, ‘Artpop’ and ‘Joanne’  (and a jazz duet  album recorded with Tony Bennett), but has equally become synonymous with outré fashion creations that have been united in their ever-​changing and media-​ attention-​g rabbing impact. Indeed, she has also added television roles to this roster in the form of her equally outrageously dressed (and clearly written to reflect her public persona) vampire character, the Countess, in the 2015 series American Horror Story: Hotel. While the persona of Lady Gaga is an acknowledged art project created by Germanotta (with both David Bowie and Madonna cited as decisive influences), and one that is explicitly based upon fashion, the example of the American singer Lana Del Rey provides perhaps a more quintessential current postmodernist expression of identity flux, as she is a figure ‘whose entire self so often seems a carefully constructed display’ (Cooper 2014: 3). Lana Del Rey’s first recording, the independent-​label-​based album Lana Del Rey, was released under her given name, Lizzy Grant, and achieved little public or critical attention (and was only released in a downloadable digital format). In response to this lack of public and industry notice, Grant subsequently assumed the Lana Del Rey appellation and her 2012 recording Born To Die was both a critical and commercial success (producing hit singles such as ‘Video Games’), then followed by the further popular albums Ultraviolence (2014) and Honeymoon (2015) and Lust For Life (2017). As Lana Del Rey, Grant would weave a persona that consciously evoked/​evokes 1960s American culture, and visually draws upon female American icons such as Marilyn Monroe and, more prominently, Jackie Kennedy, and produces point-​of-​view character perspectives within songs that are frequently in thrall to destructive embodiments of masculinity. As such, the concept of multiple selves is a key element of Del Rey as a performer, and a central theme and seam throughout her music to the extent that, as Duncan Cooper states: ‘Lana Del Rey embodies searching for yourself in someone else’ and the ‘fluid embodiment of different identities’ (2014:  11). Yet, Del Rey’s constructed persona has resulted in a sustained degree of cultural critique. These are principally based upon the constructed nature of her performative identity and related to ‘revelations’ that the Del Rey character was indeed a ‘character’, and that she is merely a cynical creation born from the failure of the Lizzy Grant 64

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recordings (and that Grant herself is the product of an affluent background, having attended prestigious boarding schools and being the daughter of a successful Internet entrepreneur –​a world away from the Americana imagery and lower socio-​economic status her music conjures). As Catherine Vigier states of such critical reactions against Del Rey: The backlash against this assemblage –​backlash from bloggers and Internet users, but also, significantly, in the New York Times and other mainstream print media –​focused on Del Rey’s surgically enhanced lips and her false retro look, which outraged many who believe art is synonymous with authenticity. The arguments were that this Lana Del Rey lacked talent and was simply the product of a corporate marketing machine. Her millionaire daddy, Robert Grant, was said to have bankrolled her rise to fame. (2012: 2) At one level, argues Vigier, Lana Del Rey could be seen as a further example of an Adorno/​ Frankfurt School-​style critique of the overly standardised form of popular music that is in the deep grip of corporate interests to ensure profitably predictable sound for a mass consumer base. Furthermore, Del Rey’s depiction of female identity has also resulted in critiques from feminist perspectives due to her apparent foregrounding of female submissiveness within her songs (‘Ultraviolence’, for example) and that she is essentially ‘anti-​feminist’. As a result, some critics have charged that Lana Del Rey ‘takes as her stylistic template a kind of pre-​feminist Americana halfway between suburban perfection and the trailer park’ (2012: 4). In her defence of Del Rey,Vigier argues that her persona is more complex than such criticisms capture, and that the scenarios that lyrics and music videos conjure show a multi-​faceted view of female gender and class positions. To illustrate, Vigier cites the National Anthem video (in which she represents the distinctly Jackie Kennedy-​style wife to rapper A$AP Rocky’s president), in which Del Rey ‘shows the gap that exists between mainstream media discourses and the way in which people live their everyday lives … and didn’t pretend that certain things didn’t happen’ (2012: 12). In this regard, such critical readings of Lana Del Rey as a performer and the constructed nature of her by Lizzy Grant evocatively illustrate the ongoing salience of postmodern identity debates within the pop cultural sphere of celebrity. However, Del Rey is not the only example of identity transition within celebrity-​based discourse; indeed, a far more radical example comes from a much more commercial face of pop music, as illustrated by the replace (and much media-​ communicated) persona transformation of Miley Cyrus. The daughter of country-​pop singer Billy Ray Cyrus, Miley Cyrus initially found fame as Disney’s Hannah Montana (2006–​2011), a globally successful series based upon the central character, Miley Stewart, and her alter ego of Hannah Montana, a world-​famous pop star. Hannah Montana was a family-​friendly series that established Cyrus as a major teen-​celebrity and one of the wealthiest teen stars due to ratings of the show, tours, its myriad merchandising products and a cinema-​released film, Hannah Montana and Miley Cyrus: Best of Both Worlds Concert. Moreover, as Redmond states of this period, the lines between Cyrus and Montana were consciously blurred. Thus: Miley Cyrus is birthed as the celebrity embodiment of Hannah Montana, her fiction a core part of Miley’s true self. Miley is signified as a Southern Christian, a devoted family girl, a virgin until she will marry, but also a naturally talented singer, a pop star. She is ‘extraordinary ordinary’, and factualises the fiction of Hannah Montana. She is Miley Cyrus by day, pop sensation by night. (2014: 78) 65

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In this phase of Cyrus’s public career her identity was, argues Redmond, ostensibly a branded extension of Disney. But, as Cyrus matured throughout her teens, the identity slippage aligned as Hannah Montana progressively became problematised as she engaged in activities, which were revealed within media sources that sharply conflicted and ultimately irrevocably damaged her carefully cultivated and lucrative Disney image. The beginning of Cyrus’s image transformation came when the celebrity gossip website TMZ.com showed footage of the star apparently under the influence of the hallucinogenic drug Salvia; accordingly, argues Redmond, ‘Cyrus is the embodiment of the celebrity metronome. Her story begins as an idealized female teenage role model and migrates to one who is potentially toxic and wayward’ (2014:  79). Indeed, Miley Cyrus’s public persona has evolved beyond that of Hannah Montana to the extent that she now manifests a radically alternative celebrity identity. Consequently, exorcising the chaste Montana-​guise, the 2013 release of Cyrus’s Bangerz album saw an overtly sexualised public self, a prominently displayed body revealing multiple tattoos, supported by interviews with publications such as Rolling Stone in which she shared her enthusiasm for marijuana use. Furthermore, Cyrus’s new public self was acutely communicated through the promotional videos for the singles ‘We Can’t Stop’, in which she introduced her provocative signature ‘twerking’ dance, and the No. 1 charting track, ‘Wrecking Ball’, in which she appeared scantily clad (and at times ostensibly nude) in a video directed by the controversial photographer and film-​maker Terry Richardson. Finally, Cyrus’s identity shift was globally communicated in her (infamous) live performance at the 2013 VMA awards in which she danced suggestively (including further twerking) with fellow pop star Robin Thicke. The performance garnered many complaints from news and media commentary that expressed confusion regarding Cyrus’s profound identity slippage from wholesome tween role-​model to one based upon sexualised outrage. While the issue of Miley Cyrus is at one level (as Redmond alludes to), a factor of a former child/​teen star inevitably maturing, her present-​day celebrity identity is a radical departure from the public incarnation that made her famous, and ably demonstrates the manner by which celebrity culture exhibits distinctive postmodern traits relating to representations of identity, and how these, at a performative level at least, display the ‘moveable feast’ characteristic argued to be so central to the postmodernist conception of self.

Brand Kardashian and postmodern commodified celebrity If classic postmodern ideas, such as the fluidity of identity, can be identified within contemporary celebrity culture, so can other archetypal ideas, such as the linkages between postmodernity and the nature of capitalism. As Frederic Jameson, within his seminal article “Postmodernism, or the cultural logic of late capitalism”, argues, postmodernism is a cultural force that has traditionally embraced/​embraces the ‘schlock’ or ‘kitsch’ aspects of popular culture (from B-​movies to ‘airport paraliterature’ of romance, fantasy and science fiction). But, more fundamentally, at the level of social structure, postmodernism would decisively and dramatically influence information and technology communications, media and consumer society to the extent that it would transcend ‘the laws of classical capitalism, namely the primacy of industrial production and the omnipresence of class struggle’ (1984: 2). Postmodern society, alternatively, would progressively become a commercial culture that is dominated by the commodification of objects, including the transformation, as exemplified by the art of Andy Warhol, of film stars (such as Elvis or Marilyn Monroe), who were effectively ‘commodified and transformed into their own images’ (1984: 6). 66

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The primacy of commodification and human subjects is a factor that has been argued to be now predominant within contemporary celebrity culture. As Graeme Turner states, celebrities are strategically developed to make money, from the use of stars to market films, to the names and images of celebrities being employed to market various brands, products and services. Moreover, while this relationship serves the financial interests of the entertainment and wider industries, it also enriches individual celebrities, too. As such, celebrities routinely develop their public personas ‘as a commercial asset [and as] the asset appreciates –​as the celebrity’s fame spreads –​so does its earning capacity’ (2014: 37). But, although such a process is an endemic aspect of celebrity culture, there are perhaps few better examples of a modern Jameson-​like commodification of self and image than that of the Kardashians, a media family considered to constitute a living brand, and which reflect a prime example of the contemporary commodification of the self. Although the Kardashian’s rise to fame began with connections to the OJ Simpson trial (as Robert Kardashian was part of Simpson’s defence team, and Kris Jenner was a friend of one of the murder victims, Nicole Brown), and Kim Kardashian’s increasing cultural visibility as a friend of Paris Hilton, the foundation of their fame arose from reality TV. Broadcast on the E! channel on 14 October 2007, and now running for over 11 seasons, the reality TV series Keeping Up With The Kardashians established the beginnings of a media family that has accrued, as Amanda Scheiner McClain (2013) states, a multimillion-​dollar fortune despite being founded upon no obvious talent beyond constant (and strategic) self-​promotion. Initially built upon the premise of the blended family of Kris and Bruce Jenner, and consisting of Kim, Kourtney, Khloé, and Robert Kardashian (from Kris Jenner’s previous marriage to the attorney Robert Kardashian) and the Jenners’ two children, Kendall and Kylie, the series has formed the foundation of a formidable and multi-​faceted business empire. So far, this enterprise has developed under media and public scrutiny for over a decade, with Keeping Up with the Kardashians at the heart of the family’s fame, but itself establishing a variety of spin-​off series, such as Kourtney and Kim Take New York, Khloé and Lemar, Kris, Kourtney & Khloé Take the Hamptons, Dash Dolls, and I Am Cait (charting Bruce Jenner’s gender transition). A key aspect of these shows, argues McClain, is that the media exposure afforded by the reality TV show led to multiple brand-​endorsement deals, but predicated upon a form of reality that is argued to reflect Boorstin’s now classic definition of the ‘celebrity’ as the individual ‘who is well-​ known for their well-​knownness’ (1992: 57). In Boorstin’s view, the contemporary landscape of fame (Hollywood, for example) is one characterised not so much by genuine achievement, but rather by superficial media-​created diversions sustained by a series of ‘pseudo-​events’ –​purposely produced publicity-​seeking episodes initiated by studios or public relations professionals and representatives. Pseudo-​events are deliberately planned and staged ‘for the immediate purpose of being reported or reproduced’ and arranged ‘for the convenience of the reporting media’ (1992: 40). Within the frame of McClain’s analysis, this process readily fits the Kardashians, as their lives are extensively mediated in terms of daily and professional activities, but also in terms of the coverage of marriages (with Kim Kardashian’s short-​lived marriage to Kris Humphries dubbed a cynical publicity event), relationship crises and pregnancies, most notably of Kim Kardashian’s marriage to rap star Kanye West and the birth of their two children. However, the family are also complicit with media coverage as they ‘avidly utilize social media, documenting the minutia of their lives through words and photos [Kim Kardashian’s Instagram account has some 55 million followers], as well as networking with fans and other celebrities. In short, the Kardashians are omnipresent, permeating contemporary American culture’ (2013: 1). Accordingly, the Boorstinian concept of the pseudo-​event is one that ably fits a media family whose lives are ones of constant media-​ attracting activity. Indeed, returning to the ethos of Baudrillard, William Merrin suggests that 67

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Boorstin’s work is effectively proto-​postmodernist as his famous concept of the pseudo-​event serves as a conceptual antecedent of Baudrillard’s simulacral appraisal of contemporary media culture, which serves as a means of ‘blurring rather than sharpening our picture of reality’, and, as they are consciously planned to generate ‘maximum publicity, drama and public interest’, possess ‘the power to eclipse ordinary events’ (2004: 55). The world represented within Keeping Up With The Kardashians and related media coverage of their lives approximates a ‘realer-​ than-​ real’ space whereby it juxtaposes everyday ‘confessional’ domestic family issues which might be relatable to many viewers with a world of effortless glamour, global travel and luxury brand-​dominated conspicuous consumption (such as mansions, and cars such as Bentleys and Ferraris). Furthermore, as the Kardashians possess no standard entertainment talents (singing, writing, acting, etc.), their media presence is fundamentally built upon them simply ‘being themselves’, and subsequently generating interest in their celebrity through their daily lives, which are extraordinary, but which are regularly punctuated with publicity-​generating activities, which are, as Boorstin delineated, designed to garner maximum public interest and media coverage. One prominent example of this process was arguably Kim Kardashian’s nude photographic session with Jean-​Paul Goude, for Paper magazine, which, due to its displaying of Kardashian’s posterior (a key physical component of her fame and renown), promised to “Break the Internet” due to its attention-​g rabbing nature, and, while the Internet remained intact, the shoot did indeed saturate media culture, news coverage, social media retweets and YouTube parodies, perfectly reflecting that Boorstin/​Baudrillard celebrity phenomenon. Indeed, as Amanda Fortini (in the accompanying article to the images) stated of Kardashian’s cultural status: ‘Her millions-​strong popularity and inescapable media presence have made her grist for think pieces galore. She is variously seen as a feminist-​entrepreneur-​pop-​culture-​icon or a late-​stage symptom of our society’s myriad ills: narcissism, opportunism, unbridled ambition, unchecked capitalism’ (2014: 1). The latter part of this assessment concerns a factor which further underscores the ways in which the Kardashians embody a distinctive Jameson-​like postmodern ethos, that of their commodified nature and branded personas. As McClain states in relation to assessments of the family, they earn money through simply ‘being themselves’, and have created a powerful and lucrative ‘Kardashian empire’ on the basis of their relentlessly mediated lives. While the reality TV shows form the foundation for their enterprise, this has been reinforced by numerous branded products and endorsements that range from jewellery, shoes, perfumes, skin creams, self-​tanning lotion and diet products, to lifestyle books, personally branded fashion lines and the Kim Kardashian Hollywood mobile app game and her Emoji App collection called the ‘KIMOJI’. Consequently, as McClain explains, the public interest, if not obsession, with the Kardashians has been skilfully and flexibly commodified and stamped onto a myriad of branded products made available for public consumption. In this sense, then, the Kardashians represent a key reflection of the economic nature of what David Harvey argues within his text The Postmodern Condition (1989) is the essence of the condition of postmodernity: the shift from a stable ‘Fordist’ system of production, to a regime defined by flexibility. In outlining the nature of postmodernist culture, Harvey’s thesis argues that its key nature emerges from the evolution beyond the once-​dominant ‘Fordist’ production system. Broadly, Fordism was that system of industrial production typified by Henry Ford’s production of the model ‘T’ car. In consequence, Fordism was built upon the principle of labour productivity being radically increased by breaking down work tasks according to standards of time-​and-​motion studies, resulting in a de-​skilling within the labour process. The key element of Fordism was the recognition that mass production meant ‘mass consumption’ and ‘a new kind of rationalised, modernist, and populist democratic society’ (1989:  126). This economic and social grand 68

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vision demanded extensive social structural transformations to succeed: it needed ‘a corporate commitment to steady, but powerful processes of technological change, mass fixed capital investment, growth of managerial expertise in both production and marketing, and the mobilization of economies of scale through standardization of product’ (1989: 134). However, in the period from 1965 to 1973, a period marked by economic crises, political unrest and recession, the Fordist production system began to founder, signifying a decline that was also partly attributable to the rigidity of this economic system. Harvey argues that this recession period created a new set of economic and political processes that undermined Fordism, and which would give rise to an alternative system of production: that of ‘flexible accumulation’. Unlike Fordism, flexible accumulation rests on a high degree of flexibility with regard to labour processes, labour markets, products and patterns of consumption. Flexible accumulation was distinguished by the emergence of ‘entirely new sectors of production, new ways of providing financial services, new markets and greatly intensified rates of commercial, technological and organizational innovation’ (1989: 147). Accordingly, capitalism works to produce consumer culture characterised not by stability and long-​term trends, but by ceaseless innovation and product/​service turnover, whereby long-​term production trends are replaced with an unending flow of constantly updated commodities that, unlike within the Fordist vision, are defined by their ephemeral commercial life spans. While the degree to which Fordism gave way to flexible accumulation at a global level has been debated, the notion of never-​ending product/​service/​ brand innovation is one that does arguably reflect key aspects of contemporary celebrity culture. For example, celebrities of the stature of Jennifer Lopez, Beyoncé, Lady Gaga, Justin Timberlake, Gwyneth Paltrow, Rihanna, Katy Perry, Kanye West and many more have dynamically diversified their creative portfolios to create, under their own names, fashion, fragrance and various lifestyle products, to effectively and flexibly capitalise on their modish brand image, and extend their entrepreneurial reach into wider consumer markets. Such economic processes and accumulation practices centrally define the Kardashians, who lack the central professional statuses of the likes of Beyoncé (they are not singers, actors, etc.) but simply portray ‘themselves’ in their (albeit extravagant) everyday lives. As such, the Kardashians (and Kim in particular), as McClain argues, ‘are active participants in the capitalistic economy, hawking wares and themselves through multiple forms of media’ (2013:  59). This ubiquitous media visibility lies at the heart of the Kardashian phenomenon, and forms the basis of their ceaseless regime (under the determined direction of ‘Momager’ Kris Jenner) of brand extension, and the myriad economic products, brands and endorsements they engage in. In this fashion, the Kardashians stand as a set of discursive media representations that far transcend Baudrillard’s references to televised domesticity with reference to the reality TV-​ revealed Loud family, documented in the 1970s, to truly hyper-​real standards: a family whose lives are indeed realer-​ than-​real and the subject of constant media exposure. And yet, the representations that emerge reflect the key surface-​level nature of postmodernism, in which artifice and control are always maintained. As Fortini observes from an interview with Kim Kardashian: There’s an argument to be made that Kardashian has been recorded and viewed more often than any other personage in history, and while she has certainly had her awkward moments (posting a vampire facial on Instagram, announcing that she wanted to buy a stroller that complemented her unborn baby’s skin color), she has also never made a truly ruinous gaffe, been caught in a Britney Spears-​style public meltdown or sallied forth looking less than photogenic. As she puts it, “There’s nothing we can do that’s not documented, so why not look your best, and amazing?” (2014: 4). 69

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The issue of narcissism, argues McClain, is a key aspect of Keeping Up With The Kardashians and Kim Kardashian’s ostensible reaction to celebrity, as revealed via the exaggerated representations of femininity that the Kardashians display, from designer clothing, ostentatious makeup, constant tanning and daily gym regimes. Also, bodily somatic transformation is a key aspect of the visible nature of the Kardashians as plastic surgery ‘is often mentioned on the series and is utilized at various times by sundry family members’ (2013: 52). Here, then, the position of Slavoj Žižek and his analysis of ‘hyperrealist’ media culture is apposite in relation to the Kardashian expression of celebrity culture. Drawing upon Lacanian psychoanalysis in relation to media-​ dominated cultures, Žižek articulates a social vision that has experienced the dissolution of symbolic order through the forces of realer-​then-​real media in which their fictionalised nature is not apparent enough and so engulfs logical standpoints. As such, Žižek concludes that ‘the realm of the Symbolic is short-​circuited by an incessant flow of images, which solicit not analysis and the powers of thought but rather nothing more than blank, unreflective enjoyment’ (Donahue 2001: 16). Indeed, Žižek conceptualises a particular type of subjectivity that reflects the ‘spectacularized society’ as that of the ‘pathological narcissist’. But, while this vision of postmodern culture may or may not be extant throughout contemporary society, the celebrity world symbolised by Kim Kardashian arguably does. While the Kardashians are the locus of unceasing paparazzi-​taken photographs which are circulated in celebrity media discourses, Kim herself is intimately involved with the ‘incessant flow of images’ of herself, taken in the form of mobile-​ shot ‘selfies’. Consequently, Kardashian’s Instagram account is the repository of a constantly updated repository of selfies that number into the thousands and are an ever-​expanding image-​ based chronicle that communicates the essence of her celebrity life. Indeed, such has been her commitment to her self-​documentation, she released a book charting her visual life from 2007 to 2014, entitled (in an appropriately Žižekesque manner) Selfish. So, as a celebrity brand predicated upon image, the concept of the ‘pathological narcissist’ is an apt one to capture and convey the essence of the Kardashians, the family that constitute ‘a conspicuous and overexposed element of contemporary American culture’ (McClain 2013: 14) that is built upon self-​commodification and the commodification of all aspects of their lives.

Conclusion: postmodernism on E! In assessing the validity of postmodernism as a means by which to explain contemporary cultures and social and economic configurations, Umberto Eco provides a useful way in which, in the face of critics who decry it as an outmoded and outdated body of thought, to make a case for its continued validity. As Eco states of the nature of postmodernism and its temporal character: Actually, I  believe that postmodernism is not a trend to be chronologically defined, but rather, an ideal category –​or, better still, a kunstwollen, a way of operating. We could say that every period has its own postmodernism, just as every period would have its own mannerism. (1996: 31–​32) In relation to contemporary celebrity culture, Eco’s appraisal rings true as it has much to say of a form of culture that, while complex and multi-​faceted (there are distinctive differences between the public personas and perceptions of Angelina Jolie and Justin Bieber), was, and is, a culture defined by image and the ceaseless circulation of images. This continues with regard to traditional media forms (television and print), but now intensified through digital 70

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consumption and intensified within social media platforms. Of the latter, celebrity lives and activities dominate newsfeeds  –​from professional achievements and scandals to the styles and colours of their clothing on a given day  –​but also from which the content is ever-​ increasingly produced and provided by celebrities themselves. As such, regarding the central tenets of postmodernist cultural analysis, from fluid identities and flexible modes of capitalist production, to the triumph of image over political substance, and the endless reduction of selves to images, modern celebrity culture adeptly illustrates all of these points; hence, Daniel Boorstin’s choice of title for his classic book, The Image, was both apt and prescient (with all of its proto-​Baudrillardian overtones). Furthermore, given the currency of his insights into fame (underscored by cynicism), perhaps not even he, with his predictions of the rise of the ‘famous-​for-​being-​famous’ individuals, sustained through incessant publicity-​attracting pseudo-​events, could perhaps have foreseen just how far a celebrity collective like the Kardashians could push this. And given that they routinely ‘break the Internet’, whether for nude photography shoots or baby-​naming, this is pushed very far, very regularly. Therefore, postmodernism (and especially its ‘four corners’) remains a valid means by which to map a modern global celebrity culture so frequently characterised by novelty and media spectacle. Indeed, Wark’s view that a postmodern culture is essentially a media culture is more valid than when he wrote this, and celebrity forms a central aspect of this culture, whether as the latest bulletin on celebrity-​news-​dominated E! channel, or, as is ever more common, with a log-​in to Instagram to view the latest celebrity post.

References Babcock, W., and Whitehouse, V. 2005. Celebrity as a postmodern phenomenon, ethical crisis for democracy, and media nightmare. Journal of Mass Media Ethics, 20(2–​3): 176–​191. Bartholomew, M. 2011. A right is born: Celebrity, property, and postmodern lawmaking. Connecticut Law Review, 44(2): 301–​368. Baudrillard, J. 1994. Simulacra and Simulation. Ann Arbor: Univ. of Michigan Press. Boorstin, D. 1992. The Image: A guide to pseudo-​events in America. New York:Vintage Books. Budabin, A.C. 2015. Celebrities as norm entrepreneurs in international politics:  Mia Farrow and the ‘Genocide Olympics’ campaign. Celebrity Studies, 6(4): 399–​413. Coombe, R.J. 1992. Author/​izing the celebrity:  Publicity rights, postmodern politics, and unauthorized genders. Cardozo Arts & Entertainment Law Journal, 10: 365–​395. Cooper, D. 2014. Cover story: Lana Del Rey is anyone she wants to be. Fader, 92, June/​July. Donahue, B. 2001. Marxism, postmodernism, Žižek. Postmodern Culture, 12(2): 1–​35. Eco, U. 1996. “I love you madly,” he said self-​consciously. In W. Truett Anderson (ed.), The Fontana Post-​ Modernism Reader (pp. 31–​33). London: Fontana. Fortini, A. 2014. No filter: An afternoon with Kim Kardashian. PaperMag.com. ​www.papermag.com/​2014/​ 11/​kim_​kardashian.php (accessed 30 October 2015). Guilbert, G.-​C. 2002. Madonna as Postmodern Myth. Jefferson: McFarland & Company. Hall, S. 1992. The question of cultural identity. In S. Hall and T. McGrew (eds), Modernity and its Futures (pp. 273–​327). Open Univ. Press. Harvey, D. 1989. The Condition of Postmodernity. Cambridge: Blackwell. Jameson, F. 1984. Postmodernism, or the cultural logic of late capitalism. New Left Review, 1(146): 1–​27. Kellner, Douglas. 1992. Popular culture and the construction of postmodern identities. In S. Lash and J. Friedman (eds), Modernity and Identity (pp. 141–​178). Oxford: Blackwell. Lash, S. 1990. Sociology of Postmodernism. London: Routledge. Lyotard, J.-​F. 1986. The Postmodern Condition. Manchester: Manchester Univ. Press. McClain, A.S. 2013. Keeping Up the Kardashian Brand:  Celebrity, materialism, and sexuality. Lanham: Lexington Books. Merrin, W. 2004. Baudrillard and the Media. Cambridge: Polity. Redmond, S. 2014. Celebrity & The Media. Basingstoke: Palgrave. Rojek, C. 2001. Celebrity. London: Reaktion. 71

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Schultz, D. 2001. Celebrity politics in a postmodern era:  The case of Jesse Ventura. Public Integrity, 3(4): 363–​376. Truett Anderson, W. 1996. The Fontana Post-​Modernism Reader. London: Fontana Press. Turner, G. 2014. Understanding Celebrity. Los Angeles: Sage. Vigier, C. 2012. The meaning of Lana Del Rey: Pop culture, post-​feminism and the choices facing young women today. Zeteo: The Journal of Interdisciplinary Writing, September: 1–​16. Wark, M. 1999. Celebrities, Culture and Cyberspace:  The light on the hill in a postmodern world. Annandale, NSW: Pluto Press Australia.

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5 Cultural studies and the politics of celebrity From powerless elite to celebristardom Barry King

Historical and intellectual development of the field It has been more than three decades since an English translation of Alberoni’s article on the Powerless elite was published – translated from the original Italian version published in 1962 (Alberoni 1972). Alberoni argued that there was a distinction to be made between political and economic elites with institutional power and stars and celebrities as a powerless elite. The powerless elite, as he dubbed them, were stars and celebrities “whose institutional power was limited or non-existent but whose doings attracted a maximum degree of public interest” and, as a reflex of this interest, media attention. In Alberoni’s view the essence of elite power was privacy and stars and celebrities, by contrast, owed their very existence and standing to publicity. Alberoni evoked broad sociological trends that were not exclusively connected to capitalism – such as the existence of autonomous centres of power protected from state interference and a shift from small-scale, local to large-scale communities, individualism, social mobility and increased economic wealth (p. 76). The fact that these characteristics were most prominent in the United States as the capitalist society par excellence was not considered in Alberoni’s analysis, because its main purpose was to propound a universal thesis derived from Parsonian social systems theory: A phenomenon like “stardom” does not exist unless certain systems of action are institutionally considered as unimportant from a political point of view. In other words stars exist in that measure to which their activities are not mainly evaluated according to the consequences which they involve for the collectivity. (p. 76) Further in the article, Alberoni acknowledged that the “whole life of the stars is orchestrated and arranged, so that nothing is left to chance” (p. 82) and that the image of the life they lead constitutes “evident affronts to egalitarian ideals”. Nonetheless the absence (or was it the visibility?) of envy and resentment does not add support to the theory, “which has achieved considerable success”, that stardom is produced by economic (for which read capitalist) elites as a means of mass distraction. For Alberoni, such an instrumental view failed to account for the fact 73

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that the star system had prospered worldwide – even in communist and fascist societies, not just under capitalism – and had done so despite the resistance of producers to the formation of a star system, as in the example of Hollywood in the Nickelodeon era (Decordova 2001). For Alberoni, in the final analysis the star system can only propose stars. The audience alone has the power to make them (p. 83). These sweeping claims did not rest on a close evaluation of the notion of consumer sovereignty nor on evidence of audience attitudes to stardom, some of which would have been available at the time of writing (Handel 1950; Thorp 1939). Nor does Alberoni distinguish between the circulation of individual stars, rising and falling, from the star system that manages audience choice by over-production. Despite the potential loophole signalled by the qualifier of “not mainly evaluated”, popular interest in stars is positioned – by an unnamed usesand-gratifications approach lurking in the background  – as a matter of personal preference rather than as an expression of a different kind of politics.1 Even setting aside contemporary approaches for the moment, the dissociation of the politics of the “popular” from the realm of formal politics looked rather implausible against the example of control of the Italian cinema under Fascism and, for that matter, Gramsci’s theorization of hegemony. Part of Alberoni’s conceptual apparatus turned on the concept of charisma and clearly the danger of its generalization. The “gift of grace” charisma might enable divinely inspired leaders such as Mussolini to seize control of cultural life. For Alberoni this was a poignant, if not directly cited, metaphysical pathos behind his arguments. Overall the concept of the “powerless elite” was intended to refute claims that stardom was a mere instrument of capitalist ideology – an interpretation that has been particularly associated with the Frankfurt School’s theory of mass culture.Yet a closer reading of the Frankfurt School’s arguments did not entirely support the implied charge of reductionism. Herbert Marcuse, for example, in One-Dimensional Man, saw stars as having a profound ideological effect on popular consciousness because they were the fictional embodiments, the poster boys and girls, of a onedimensional universe from which alternative visions of love, freedom, artistic expression and humanity were excluded or stultified: The vamp, the national hero, the beatnik, the neurotic housewife, the gangster, the star, the charismatic tycoon … are no longer images of another way of life but rather freaks or types of the same way of life, serving as an affirmation rather than negation of the established world. (Marcuse 2013: 57) Independently of the Frankfurt School, C. Wright Mills, a major American theorist of elitism, observed that the world of celebrity and institutional power were deeply intertwined, with the former adding glamour and aura to the latter: The professional celebrity, male or female, is the crowning result of the star system of a society that makes a fetish of competition. In America, this system is carried to the point where a man who can knock a small white ball into a series of holes in the ground with more efficiency and skill than anyone else thereby gains social access to the President of the United States. It is carried to the point where a chattering radio and television entertainer becomes the hunting chum of leading industrial executives. It does not seem to matter what the man is the very best at; so long as he has won out in competition over all others, he is celebrated. (Mills 1959: 74) 74

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Such characterizations suggested two things: first, that there were alternative forms of popular desires and aspirations that needed to be “instrumentalized” if capitalist social relations were to be sustained and reproduced.The audience realm, if not based on revolutionary impulses, at least harboured a latent Utopian demand for a better life that affected not merely the discourses of stardom but consumerism in general ( Williams 1991). The second thing is that the holding of political power required legitimation.This might take a technocratic form (Habermas 1970). But the star system also had a role to play in placing the individual as the focal point of the anthropology of a market-driven economy.

Contemporary views on the powerless elite The contemporary view of Alberoni’s thesis has, if anything, been more dismissive of the division between power and fame, in part because of more recent developments. As Graeme Turner notes, it is now commonly accepted that celebrity/stardom is a form of power in itself that has “an increasing purchase on our experience of everyday life and its implication in the construction and definitions of cultural identity” (Turner 2013: 21). Celebrities, in short, have great referent power. This mode of power has an institutional dimension since within their respective industries – film, television, fashion and music – stars and celebrities play important entrepreneurial roles in raising capital investments for creative projects (King 2010). This function would not have been especially evident at the time when Alberoni was writing – though examples such as the package deals negotiated by stars such as James Stewart could have been considered as portents of what was to become a new geometry of star power (King 2003). Aside from the external development of stars and celebrities as venture capitalists and investors, the post-studio period saw a number of aesthetic developments that realigned the political economy of Hollywood. In the “post-Hollywood” era, the major studios ceased their direct involvement in production, becoming instead financiers subcontracting the development and production to independents and mini-majors. The new form of patronage was matched by aesthetic developments such as reboots, prequels, sequels and re-makes and the development of cross-media franchise exploitation, exemplified by Marvel Studios and the rise of internet-based media outlets such as NetFlix and HBO as producers of series and long-form television. These reconfigurations of production and marketing, far from reducing the significance of stars and celebrities, increased their importance as personal brands and placeholders in expanding commodity chains (360 deals) across different media platforms and niche markets. These considerations suggested that there was a dimension of power that Alberoni only barely considered – namely the class standing and agency of the star system itself. In general terms, the stars of the studio period were well paid in relation to the average wage. But in the poststudio period down to the present time the gap between the average wage and star/celebrity earnings has taken on a schismatic proportion as compensation and profit-sharing deals reflect the expansion of the global, rather than just the North American market, even as the latter has expanded into non-theatrical sources of revenue. The last few decades have seen the formation of a powerful stratum of entertainment- and media-based celebrities that can be properly regarded as a cadet section of the upper class in capitalist societies. The new global celebrity system is a pervasive presence in elite networks and now exerts considerable symbolic and economic influence (Grinin 2009). The common feature of this heterogeneous group of people is that they exploit their fame, converting it into appointments, money, links and benefits in kind and sometimes even handing the assets down to their family. The yawning chasm of inequality between the celebrity stratum and the average US citizen, let alone the population of less affluent societies on the periphery, can 75

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be gauged by comparing the net worth of randomly selected figures  – George Lucas $5.1 billion, Steven Spielberg $3.5 billion, Oprah Winfrey $3.2. billion, Madonna $800  million, Tom Cruise $470 million, Jack Nicholson $400 million, Johnny Depp $400 million (Celebrity Networth 2017). Against such astronomical figures the US Bureau of Labor reported that in 2015 the median pay was $18.80 per hour and the minimum hourly rate was $7.25. If the comparison is made more consistent by looking at the pay for US actors and performers, then up to 80% of people in these areas are out of employment or under-employed at any time. Consequently, actors’ and performers’ earnings fall below the national average unless they “hit the big time” and, for relatively well-trained professionals, most actors only earn the median hourly rate of $18.80 (US Department of Labor 2016/17). We hear constantly about the vast sums that actors are paid for movies, and it’s usually enough to bail out a small financially struggling country in return for pretending to fly about in front of a green screen or kiss someone they’ve just met. But not every actor is Robert Downey Jr, who reportedly makes $50  million every time he wears the Iron Man suit. (Daily Telegraph 2017)2 The significant aspect of this development is that the greater degree of economic inequality has led to a flattening of hierarchical relationships within the occupational field of acting. Not only does it happen that the “winners take all” tournament is intensified, but winners are represented as belonging to a different human category. Large differences in reward produce a fetishism of small differences in looks and comportment – aspects of the self that in a circular fashion may be fixed by the ability to hire cadres of experts in grooming and self-presentation. To be sure this was always a feature of stardom, but, with the increased scale of reward and advances in cosmetic practices and digital technologies, even ugly ducklings on the right side of affluence can do much to augment “nature”.Through these kinds of processes, augmented by profile management, the “powerless elite” have greater symbolic clout and prestige within the fields of entertainment, fashion and marketing at the same time as their images have become more socially pervasive. But they become powerful in society in general as, for example, owners of entertainment and fashion-focused businesses, and owners and investors in real estate. Celebrities and stars – even if not offering a watertight guarantee – remain essential to the minimization of risk, in a risk-averse industry. As winners in the struggle for spectator approval for their ostensible qualities, stars and celebrities ratify the efficacy of personal-improvement commodities and services in leisure, fashion, health products and cosmetics, suggesting their personal style and fitness for work activities will translate to the ordinary consumer. Within the screen media – movies, television, music videos and computer video games – stars and celebrities (or look-alikes) produce through their reactions – facial, gestural and vocal – the affective reality of the action.3 In relation to the social media, a growing research literature on the formation of popular as opposed to elite conceptions of personal identity shows that stars and celebrities are central to the establishment of popular hierarchies of self-worth and social discrimination. Celebrities play a significant role in the formation and activation of norms of behaviour and in the area of selfpresentation, especially in relation to the rise of the selfie, set the standards for self-disclosure and gender display (Marwick 2013). Contrary to Alberoni’s suggestion that the political elite works to distance itself from the spotlight of publicity and promotion, the reverse has come to be the case. The political involvement 76

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of stars and celebrities, signalled most notably by Ronald Reagan and Donald Trump as presidents, has become a standard operating procedure. But there has also been a steady merging of entertainment and politics following the technical precedent established by George Murphy as a Republican Senator for California and Shirley Temple Black’s diplomatic appointments, followed by Sonny Bono, Jesse Ventura, Clint Eastwood and Arnold Schwarzenegger. In terms of political activism and advocacy rather than public office, celebrities such as Jayne Fonda, Martin Sheen, George Clooney, Bruce Springsteen, Angelina Jolie, Ted Nugent, Jon Voight and Charlton Heston have endorsed political candidates and promoted a left-to-right range of causes. American examples aside, actors such as Eva Peron, Amitabh Bachchan and Ilona Staller, in diverse performance capacities, have leveraged their celebrity into political office. George Clooney has been particularly clear on the relationship between celebrity visibility and political interventions: Clooney’s support for the Sudan is part of a long term commitment and not just the opportunistic fronting of an issue that provides good public relations. His underlying strategy is long term, using his own media profile to bring issues troubling ordinary people onto the media agenda. He gathers information by travelling through the country and has also invested in satellites that track the progress of genocide activity and act as an “anti-genocide paparazzi”. (Avalon 2011) The foregoing developments confirm, pace Alberoni, that the political elite and ruling circles have embraced a media-driven culture of celebrity and that stars and celebrities in turn have reciprocated and now serve as exemplars of political style, ushering in an era of mediatization (Street 2004).

Ideology recalibrated Admittedly, it is not an entirely valid criticism of the powerless elite thesis that historical developments and trends have rendered a structural division between political power and celebrity culture less plausible, or at least less capable of being hidden. Changes in the ownership and control of media organizations, the introduction of new media technologies and the re-composition of audiences, however interpreted, have reconfigured the process of interaction between stars and celebrities and fans and the general public in ways that were not possible in the early sixties. If one accepts that the powerless elite thesis is a document of its time and context does that mean it is no longer relevant? I suggest not, because of a problem it inadvertently poses. At the core of the original article is a contradiction that the author does not notice. Alberoni observed: Thanks to the media of communication, the public are presented with an image of the person who has the most chance of attracting attention and sympathy, of exciting human warmth and curiosity. The whole life of the stars is thus astutely orchestrated and nothing is left to chance. (p. 92) But the significance of this comprehensive (“nothing is left to chance”) discursive “shield” is only passingly noted and then consigned to the rubbish bin as conspiracy-mongering. Yet it is worth recalling Alberoni’s claim that one of the key features of a powerless elite is that, unlike traditional elites, it lacks the capacity to protect its privacy and intra-elite interaction 77

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from media scrutiny (p.  81). Certainly during the “golden age” of Hollywood, Confidential Magazine, Hush-Hush and gossip columnists such as Louella Parsons, Hedda Hopper and Walter Winchell, each with their paid network of tipsters, ensured that stars and celebrities (like prisoners in a Panopticon) were always being watched (Goodman 1961). At the same time it is hard to claim that stars and celebrities shun the limelight. On the contrary, they want it as a competitive weapon against rival performers, but on terms that promote their standing with fans and audiences. The uncertainty of managing a media profile has intensified today with the development of websites such as TMZ and the development of celebrity gossip as a genre. But so has the payoff in garnering attention.What has changed is the other side of the contrast. Political and social elites can no longer count on the media, as they once routinely could, to respect their privacy. To this extent it is the “hard” institutional power structure that has sought to wrap itself in the “soft” aura of celebrity, as C. Wright Mills presciently suggested. This shift in the framing of the social relationships between celebrities and the general public, including important constituencies such as fan communities, means that the manner in which Hollywood and the media represent their role as the symbolic register of popularity is changing. From the point of view of theorising ideology, the predominant symbolic strategy adopted by Hollywood throughout the pre-studio, studio and post-studio period was consumer sovereignty or, generally, market populism (McGuigan 2002; Frank 2001). Market populism has been pursued through advertising and public relations through a range of quality markers – such as genre, auteurism, stardom, studio brands and the collective brand of Hollywood. But of these the most prominent emphasis has been on stardom as the most immediate manifestation of audience engagement. In the early studio period, the stars were represented as “divine” or transcendent beings. Then, following the potentially divisive extravagances of the 1920s and the onset of the Great Depression, publicity and advertising depicted stardom as coming “down to earth” from the excessive heights of “Hollywood Babylon” (Thorp 1939). Throughout the post-war studio period, stars were represented as types who were biographically coded off- and on-screen as examples of White Anglo-Saxon heteronormativity, whatever their actual background or sexual orientation.The cracks or discrepancies in the biographical regime of representation were euphemized, if not deliberately concealed, through studio contractual controls, such as morality clauses, and the management of adverse publicity. The realignment of the Studio system around forms of subcontracted or “independent” production saw the emergence of autobiographic positioning wherein the stars were more intensely configured as auteurs and custodians of their personal creative vision (King 2010). From the 1990s, particularly after the development of the Web as a means of global exposure and the advent of the smartphone as a form of self-image production (“selfie”), the exploitation of the stars’ and celebrities’ names and images has become more closely tied to career management and personal representation. In the context of steep socio-economic inequality, the ordinary-extraordinary contradiction that underwrote charisma in Hollywood begins to be infused with connotations of always and already given as exceptional (Dyer 2004). Unlike the pre-sound studio “divine” phase of stardom, which emphasized universalism, contemporary grammar of stardom and celebrity emphasizes exceptional individualism. Members of a market-selected elite, whose exceptional talent and professionalism define them as highly individuated personal brands, operate with multiple portfolios – as performers, lifestyle coaches and fashion models. With the increasing potential rewards for market success in the long term, they are no longer “ordinary people” who had the luck to win public favour at the box office. They are wealthy individuals in their own right, on a scale only outstripped by CEOs in large corporations on bonuses and share options, who in turn are outstripped by Bill Gates. 78

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Defined by a commitment to self-realization, stars and celebrities assume the mantle of creative visionaries enshrining the ethical injunction to be all they could be (Taylor 1989). As emotional qualities became the defining “value-added” attributes of outstanding performers within specialized fields of attainment, older notions such as the star as an actor or an athlete as a champion are superseded by an omnibus collective state, for which a new term is required but currently missing. Indeed the terms star and celebrity alike now exist under a condition of erasure that is unreliable yet indispensable for denoting the outcome of mass exposure in multiple product lines and markets (Derrida 1976: 61ff). Qualitative achievements in writing, acting, painting, singing, sport may be what propelled individuals into the limelight, but what defines them in common is a quantitative measure – the possession of a high media profile and a high market value.4 With stars as celebrities selling product, and celebrities such as Paris Hilton appearing in movies and on television, a new hybrid condition has emerged whose key movers exercise different skill sets and yet share the common attribute of being well-known, without the necessity of treating the realm in which they are found as a defining particular of their public standing.5 The term celebristardom provides a handy collective noun to cover all sorts who have a widespread media profile. In short, celebristardom is the product of the submission of fame to the commensuration of the market. As a hybrid of star and celebrity, celebristardom is a consequence of cultural trends that exogenously impact on specific fields of performance in the pursuit of profits. For my purposes here two of these trends are salient:  first, the rise of what has been termed emotional capitalism, where self-realization through transcendence has become the hallmark of personal and professional success. Emotional capitalism is based on the pervasiveness of therapeutic culture, in which shame over failure to self-realize has diluted older notions of responsibility to community and significant others (Illouz 2007; Giddens 1991). The second trend is that emotional permutations of shame have become a key structuring principle in the popular audio-visual and print media – such as talk shows, reality television and self-help commodity advertising – where celebrities play a prominent role as product endorsers and personal brands. The acquisition of the right stuff to succeed has proved hard to define – not entirely disadvantageous since it sustains a market for advice. But in a capitalist system, the most immediate and concrete index of its presence is market success, as exemplified by a media and social media profile that connects attention to profitability.Yet even market failure has a redemptive aspect, since it sets the stage to reaffirm the will to make a comeback. Moreover, failures as much as success demonstrate that the general public is not the mindless, indiscriminating herd that early conceptions of mass culture suggested it might be, but a force capable of exercising discrimination in the recognition of talent. In sum, with the economic hypertrophy of the global scale of reward, the representational leverage of the powerless elite  – the amelioration of envy and the containment of elitism  – needed to find a new form of legitimation. Envy, like greed, as the character Gordon Gekko declared in Oliver Stone’s Wall Street, was good because it was the nursemaid of talent and the will to succeed; a will impeccably evidenced by market success and market-ratified popularity. From the perspective of the engagement of popular media with their audiences, what was called for in the rhetoric of market-based legitimation was the depiction of a meritocracy based on natural abilities and a professionally focused act of will.

Enter reflexivity as legitimation This emboldened logic of winner-take-all was accompanied by promotion and publicity that recast consumer sovereignty as a reflexive process. Sociological developments that for good or 79

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ill removed the anchoring relationship between individuals and communities had led to the pervasive view in the West that identity was a therapeutic project composed of scripts and performances in search of validation and recognition.The broad cultural shift towards reflexivity need not, of course, find an expression in media culture; on the contrary the media may be used to express an unflinching commitment to a political cause by presenting idealized models of civic and national character, as for example in Fascist cinema (Gundle 2013). But although the American media were pluralistic or culturally porous from their inception, the foregoing secular trends in the “show business” operating environment have carried the logic of individualism to new levels of intensity. As dramas made out of the process of production, reflexive shows and series have two general forms of reflexivity: (a) Intertextuality – which might be deemed post-modern because of its use of parody, pastiche and insider jokes, but actually is aimed at repurposing by remediation and hyper-mediation the styles, themes and plots of earlier shows (Bolter and Grusin 2000). Through this business model a double purpose is accomplished:  the Golden Age  – now past for the broadcast media – is used to legitimate current output; and today’s audiences, more exposed to new and recycled media texts and paratexts, are given the opportunity to develop their curiosity and demonstrate their “stock” of insider knowledge. One consequence of the feeding of audience interest in insider knowledge and gossip is that the audience is reconfigured around two broad categories – (a) those wishing to be “educated” about the media, and (b) those already media-savvy, who can enjoy insider jokes and cynical reflections. The latter ‘savvy’ viewers develop a media-dependent cultural capital that implies (if not explicitly articulates) a third-person effect, bestowing a sense of superiority over naïve viewers who are regarded as falling for the manipulations of media professionals. What this means is that to some extent, the exercise of “semiotic” democracy can be cultivated as a process for internally dividing audiences, by producing inequalities in symbolic capital and constructing rival communities of interpretation. (b) Contextual reflexivity, where a show’s context of production ostensibly becomes part of the action. It becomes a stylistic “virtue” to present ‘‘behind-the-scenes’’ processes to audiences. Once the front stage was all, now it is a mere cover or opening pretext for exploring the back stage. Elements of contextual reflexivity can be confined to on-screen occurrences, such as showing camera operators and microphones in the frame or making a direct address to the “fourth” wall (Mr. Robot), or through off-screen materials such as directors’ commentaries and cast comments on film productions as DVD extras, interviews on talk shows, and related paratextual activities. Such “value-added” marketing and promotional activities, ordered on a trivia model of knowledge, suggest audience empowerment. At the same time, they also deepen the market capture of audiences by encouraging the purchase and consumption of secondary texts such as “The making of X”, “The Director’s Cut”, “The Definitive Version”, etc. These practices can lead to further dedication of time to watching (series bingeing) and further exposure to product placement and advertising, as well as participation in real-time events such as conventions. Most audience members are, of course, outsiders, so it might be said that the depiction of what it is like to be an insider is less an anticipation of audience foreknowledge than an effort to set it in a marketable framework for the long tail. The marketing of Lord of the Rings, for example, drew die-hard fans of the books into an on-line discussion forum such as Ain’t it Cool 80

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News, then moved on to reach other communities of interest, aggregating a mass audience by adding up otherwise different segments, following a 360-degree marketing plan. Yet if audience activity has increased, it is less clear that the underlying exercise of agency implies sovereignty. This is because agency has become a modular phenomenon – the exercise of choice and acts of identification within a pre-determined framework – a process of choice within but not over the choice set. The general public, already primed to see the self reflexively through social developments in the relational texture of everyday life, encounter a powerful elaboration of the need to curate an identity within the media and social media. Makeover, dating and contest shows offer a self-help resource for reflexively responding to the scrutiny of captious others, whether in the workplace or in personal relationships. The cultural emphasis on self-presentation has become collectively normalized, with the media saturation and ubiquitous engagement and the omnipresence of advertising as an economic driver for mediated interaction. Reflexivity as a process can focus on media texts, on the audience’s awareness of its terms of engagement with the text – “it’s awful but I like it” – or on the context in which the text or bodies of text are created (Sender 2012). To appreciate the structural logic of this technological shift, it is useful to draw on a theorization of the circuit of mimesis. In this model the realm of figurative expression can be characterized as the articulation of three fields of reference or discursive anchors  – Mimesis One, Mimesis Two and Mimesis Three. Mimesis One is less a compacted field of representation than a reservoir of figurative potentials. In Mimesis One popular experience, typically sustained with a private realm of oral expression and memory, exists in various stages of collective articulation, and is treated as a pre-narrative state from the perspective of Mimesis Two. Mimesis Two represents the institutionalized field of artistic and expressive forms, which changes as memes and themes emerging from popular experience are selected for media treatment and concretized in fictional, quasi-fictional and “factual” texts. In Mimesis Two, in short, the media construct the symbolic centre of society, offering scripts for the interpretation of social life – what it is, should not be, and could or ought to be (Couldry 2003). Mimesis Three is the media repertoire of popular experience drawn upon by audiences in the consumption of media texts, which under conditions of saturation have been furnished by mediation. Clearly “surprises” are possible (and desirable), as when previously submerged experiences are suddenly thrust into the mainstream – a classic example would be the series Roots or a more contemporary example, The Wire. But these “reconfigurations” of the prevailing stock of representations will in turn be concretized and normalized by shifts in the thematic or genre contents of the semiosphere, through reboots, prequels, remakes and genre development. The circuit of mimesis model is focused on literary textual production and, its great heuristic value notwithstanding, it perhaps tends to overstate the extent to which, particularly in a mediasaturated society, the phases of the circuit have ceased to be distinct. Especially in relation to the audio-visual and social media, in which intrinsically polysemic visual texts play a significant role, it is difficult to distinguish between popular expressions which are autochthonic and those which have been groomed into prominence by media-centric scripts and “scriptures” of interpretation (Gabler 2011).6 In principle, Mimesis One is a fragmented realm of figurations never entirely subsumed under Mimesis Three. But given media saturation, the notion of the popular as “outside” the media and emerging from popular experience needs to be qualified. Popular cultural expression becomes an industrial product prepared for consumers through the over-production of media genres and formats (Hall 1998). The media management of consumption is not inconsistent with audience agency in terms of choice, but informing the process of choice and given the fact of it, secondary texts 81

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about texts or paratexts cybernetically guide the interpretation of what is consumed. Paratexts, along with the primary texts, constitute a network of taste in which interpretative communities and hubs define themselves against other communities of fans and followers (Gray 2010).7 The incipient valorization of the “source” is not a fault-free process – obviously not all films, television shows, musicals or documentaries meet the criterion of a strong market performance; not all performers succeed or remain as representative figures of the popular. But such failures can be recouped by the strategies of over-production, by switching between domestic and international markets, by the development of “niche” markets for “sleeper” hits that in time become cult products. Failures are real but they are not necessarily fatal, and one of the effects of the development of the World Wide Web and social media as a realm of celebrity gossip is that the ebb and flow, the hedonistic calculus of tweets, likes, dislikes, followers and haters, serve to develop a hierarchy of prestige within the putatively egalitarian and snobbery-free realm of the popular.

Hollywood and reflexivity Movies about moviemaking and its relation to popular experience are not new. A Star is Born (1937 and 1954),  Sunset Boulevard, Sullivan’s Travels and The Day of the Locust are just a few that purport to take spectators behind the screen to reveal the harsh, or at least ironic, realities of the “Dream Factory”. Broadcast television also explored the media as a dramatic setting in, for example, The Mary Tyler Moore and Dick Van Dyke shows. What is new is that media-themed films and shows go further into unpacking the creative process and in doing so aspire to the status of artworks. Taking it as their core dramatic setting, television series and films claiming greater attention to historic and contemporary realism explore the inner and interpersonal dynamics of the creative workplace. Examples of this “reflexive modernist” approach range in cinema from Robert Altman’s The Player, Barry Levinson’s What Just Happened or the Coen brothers’ Barton Fink and Hail Caesar!, and television series such as Mad Men, 30 Rock, Bored to Death and Ugly Betty. Such “insider” scenarios tend to abandon any explicit comparison between Hollywood and everyday life, constructing instead an occupational soap opera that explores tensions within a creative team. A corresponding development has occurred in journalism. Two or three decades ago inside dopester reportage was mostly confined to sub-rosa or marginal literary genres of celebrity muckraking (Goodman 1961). Today it is a fully professionalized, mainstream media practice as typified by television shows such TMZ (Twenty Mile Zone) and Entertainment Tonight that also host websites in competition with celebrity gossip sites such as Hollywood.com and Perez Hilton. Such shows and sites purport to probe behind the dream screens, momentarily but recursively, abandoning the fourth wall. In some cases, the setting is show business as a generic realm. But given the commercial conglomeration of broadcasting, cable and cinema, a more abstract equation remains a desideratum, supplied by the master symbol of Hollywood: Los Angeles has long been regarded as the Entertainment Capital of the World, a title earned over many decades of activity in motion picture, sound, and television production. For many people, the words Los Angeles and Hollywood are synonymous with entertainment. Entertainment enters people’s lives at movie theaters and performing arts venues. It also enters their homes through television and radios, DVDs and compact disks, and increasingly through the Internet. And it has become an essential part of people’s activities in their cars, at the gym, or at work. (Kleinhenz and Guerra 2012: 1) 82

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Such civic boosterism is little more than a fig leaf over an underlying void: Los Angeles as a city without a centre and Hollywood as non-place. An extensive literature on the infrastructural development of Los Angeles has identified it as an a-geographical city or an exopolis (Soja 1989). Los Angeles’s civic history is marked by efforts, filtered through different architectural styles to identify an essential site where the “heart” of the city abides. Over the last century, a dominant WASP civic establishment has proposed a string of “emblematic” locations – Downtown, Bunker Hill, Hollywood, Beverly Hills – but none of these have prevailed over the centrifugal topography of strip development. Writing on the history of Los Angeles identifies a process of paramnesia  – a dialectic of forgetting, in which the stuff of recollection eff aces collective memory so that what is evoked in architectural practice is not the complexity and fluctuations of real history but rather a rosy, nostalgic version of the past that addresses the anxieties of the present (Klein 2008). Tourist sites and promotional literature play an important role in paramnesia. Through the purchasing of knick-knacks, souvenirs, sampling many cuisines, visiting sites, taking selfies, the past can be made tangible and the elusive complexities of history selectively forgotten. The fantasmatic nature of such efforts can be contrasted with the archaeological exhumation of vanished sites and artefacts to objectively document past cultures and civilizations. As a consequence of the struggle between efforts to construct a unitary civic identity based on WASP values and the material realities of strip development, ethnic diversity and geographic spread, Los Angeles has taken on the form of a network in which micro-centres or nodes struggle for prominence. Micro-centres tend to take two forms: • Enclaves – e.g. exclusive gated communities for the affluent, constructing a protective space that typically excludes poor and/or non-white people:  for example, the municipalities of Beverley Hills, or communities further afield such as Calabasas or Tarzana. • Shrines  – open to the general public and tourists, e.g. Olvera Street, the site of the first Spanish colonial settlement, which, often under threat from development interests, operates as a Lilliputian relic of Los Angeles before Anglo-Saxon colonization. Even more numerous, of course, are the sites or tour circuits dedicated to Hollywood, such as Star Homes tours, the Hollywood Boulevard and Highland Avenue area with the Walk of Stars, The Grauman Theatre, Madame Tussaud’s Hollywood Wax Museum and the Hollywood Museum, The Kodak (now Dolby) Theatre Plaza, Chateau Marmont, The Roosevelt Hotel, Sunset Strip, the Los Angeles Staples Centre (home of the Lakers and a “live” entertainment event location), Hollywood Forever cemetery, Westwood Cemetery where Marilyn Monroe is buried and, further out, Universal Studio Tour and Disneyland in Anaheim. As far as the shrines are concerned, Hollywood has long represented itself to the general public as a definite community and to that extent has claimed to be an overarching symbol of Los Angeles. Yet the key industry that identifies Los Angeles– the film and television studios – is a dispersed entity located in different districts; for example Burbank (WB), Fairfax (Paramount) and North Hollywood (Universal), with such historically important production areas in early cinema as Edendale no longer acknowledged for the benefit of the casual tourist. The most enduring symbol of the complex history of claims, driven by commercial opportunism and civic boosterism, is the Hollywood sign. As Leo Braudy has shown, the sign has a long history of neglected “iconicity” and has faced and still faces rival codifying symbols. In a world now drowning in a sea of billboards and brands, the Hollywood sign remains the prime visual center for a famously amorphous city and industry. The viewer doesn’t pass 83

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through such icons to another, more spiritual meaning, but stays on their surface, content with the way they gesture at a deeper reality without being too specific about it. (Braudy 2011: 190) What is more pronounced today is an intensified emphasis – driven by the search for tourism dollars – on the exploitation of audience interest in the history and “backstage” workings of the industry. This public relations effort is manifested on various levels on- and off-screen, but always referring back to the “screen world” and the Hollywood myth as a foundational reality. First, there is the creation of literal shrines, which provide the visitor with maps to negotiate a magic geography – containing what is either no longer there, never was there in a common space, or never was there at all.Visiting Hollywood shrines is a process of hoped-for contagion, discovering the real Hollywood and providing access to a world of imagination, the place where the dreams of ordinary individuals can come true. A material codification of these fantasy themes is the artwork by Erika Rothenberg, “The Road to Hollywood – how some of us got here”, which, located in the Dolby Plaza on Hollywood Boulevard, is composed of a series of short pathways, each inscribed with an anonymous résumé of a dream realized: I was working in an office in New York, and my boss said to me, ‘You’re not so good as a secretary; is there anything else you’d like to do?’ So I moved to L.A. and began taking acting lessons. Actress I was teaching at UCLA when a producer called, looking for a student to score a sci-fi movie. ‘I’ll send my best student,’ I said, but I sent myself instead. Composer I was a welfare mother who got herself together and wrote a one-woman show that made it Broadway. Movie star/TV host I came here from the Virgin Islands and got a job cleaning toilets. Eight years later I co-founded a grip truck service. Key grip The anonymity of the speakers is important, because it establishes a galaxy populated by Everyman and Everywoman. Some stories seem authentic. (Didn’t that happen to fillin-the-blank?) Some seem made up. (That couldn’t have happened!) Others seem like they could happen to you. The great Hollywood cliché about the blurring of reality and fiction gets revivified. In the process, your own reason for coming to Hollywood enters the scene. (http://erikarothenberg.com/#works-by-series) Weaving together the concept of the shrine and the enclave is the yearly calendar of events, culminating in the Oscar ceremony, but also including various local events such as film premieres, fashion shows, exhibition openings, backstage parties at rock star concerts, and private parties for the well-recognized. Located in Los Angeles and also in New York, such glittering exhibitions of the rich and famous are performances of celebrity worth. This exclusive social calendar for 84

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A-list celebristars axiomatically excludes the general public, who can only watch these events as media spectacles or read about them in the gossip pages. More directly, they also exclude the lower ranks (B-, C- and D-lister), who struggle to rise up the hierarchy of media attention (Currid-Halkett 2010). These processes sustain the perception that there is a private network of prestigious events from which outsiders, “private persons” or persons of inconsiderable note are excluded. Finally there are the many scenes of LA locations (or dressed sets that resemble locations) found in motion pictures and television series which operate as mapping and centring exercises, creating an audio-visual “magic” geography that situates together places that are actually apart in reality – as when a door in one location opens onto a street that is actually in another, geographically unconnected location. Such “place myths” might be construed as the outcome of tourist efforts to make what they deem to be an “authenticating” contact with the history of Hollywood (Shields 1991). Certainly the extopic nature of Los Angeles, and the centrifugal dispersal of the Entertainment corporations within it, seems to call for the exercise of personal agency in order to create a meaningful aesthetic experience.8 This is in line with Bauman’s distinction between a pilgrim, who seeks a singular site as the consummation of a quest, and a tourist. Faced with the challenge of making sense of Los Angeles, the tourist skims the surface by sticking to a commercially provided buffet of experiences (Bauman 1996). This response is not without justification given that Hollywood has no tangible reality outside of the structural arrangements and scripts imposed by commercial providers. Even the tours of star homes, for the most part, reveal them to be empty by choice or by the summons to a heavenly residence.

Entourage: his fame is their fortune – legend on the complete first season DVD cover Entourage is an American comedy-drama television series, created and largely written by Doug Ellin, which premiered on HBO on 18 July 2004 and concluded on 11 September 2011, after eight seasons. This level of endurance indicates its popularity with largely a young audience – predominantly but not exclusively male.Viewed in its total narrative arc, Entourage, with its plenitude of Hollywood locations and more than 300 celebrity cameos, constitutes a mass spectacle shoot in the style of a reality television producer/director obsessed with Busby Berkeley. The series chronicles the acting career of  Vincent Chase, a young A-list movie star, and his childhood friends from Queens, New  York City, as they navigate the unfamiliar but enticing terrain of Hollywood as the epicentre of the movie business. The eponymous Entourage and fictional nucleus of the series is Vince Chase as the sun-king at the court of fame, his older brother, Johnny Chase or “Drama”, a C-level star, Eric, an ex Pizza store employee who acts as Vince’s manager, and Turtle, a go-fer and, as required, drug supplier. Also hovering on the periphery of the inner circle and a source of conflict is Vince’s agent, Ari Gold. Other characters move in and out of contact with the core group, transparently on the make, pitching projects and deals and trying to sustain a career in a fiercely competitive environment. Outsiders with few exceptions are opportunists willing to lie, swap sexual favours for career advancement or drop partners for business reasons. Martin Landau portrays Bob Reynolds, a once (allegedly) successful producer who is conniving to interest Eric in producing a screenplay to which Bob owns the rights; Bob Saget plays a fictional version of himself, a priapic and narcissistic celebrity seeking to conclude agency deals in exchange for the opportunity to enact sexual fantasies; and Rhys Coiro plays the director Billy Walsh, whose erratic career is complicated by drug problems and creative insecurities. These stereotypes and others draw on well-established 85

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Hollywood Babylon myths and have a certain experiential credibility without which they could not work as clichés. But their function, however satirical, is to firmly differentiate the norms of conduct outside the Entourage from what happens within. Inside the Entourage, the avoidance of these kinds of behaviour, or at least contrition for lapses, functions as a loyalty test proving that self-interest should not compromise group interest. At the furthest outer ring of visualized contact circulate anonymous fans, particularly hot young females, who are prepared to trade sexual favours for drugs and, at an even more bargain rate, the chance to be infused through contagion with the “aura” of the Entourage. Set against the spectacle of the wider filmmaking “community”, Entourage presents a vision of creative involvement that is driven by above-the-line personal connections amongst friends. Indeed, as the series begins, despite the reputational dip provided by the box-office failure of a pet filmmaking project – Medellin, based on the life of the Columbian drug lord Pablo Escobar – Vince Chase is ab initio a box-office success and goes onto greater heights in Aquaman, ostensibly directed by James Cameron (in cameo) and followed by Gatsby, directed by Billy Walsh and then as a director and star in the theatrical film of another smash hit, Hyde. Being a star,Vince is free to exercise his creative whims in the choice of projects and choose his own personal support team. This cosy if conflicted microcosm is, from the perspective of the real facts of actor unemployment in Hollywood, a playground of first-world problems, assuaged with money, sex and success. The numerous celebrity cameos that litter the series and, subsequently, the theatrical release underscored the high narrative primacy of personal relations over professional connections. The appearance of “names” only marginally connected to the core business of moviemaking was clearly meant to demonstrate, reflexively, the celebrity standing of Vince and encourage audience celebrity-watching. But in doing this the craft-specific basis of fame is eff aced. A key example, but not the only one of its kind, is the involvement of porn star Sasha Grey playing herself as Vince Chase’s girlfriend in the seventh season. As a minor character Grey, like Traci Lords or Marilyn Chambers in the earlier generation of porn stars, is intent on consolidating a “legitimate” acting career. For all that, it is her status as a porn star that is the point of being cast. When acting or moviemaking skills are relevant to a particular character, these are assumed or down-played, for example, by having actor Gary Busey play a drug-addled “shaman”  – a glimpse of his private personality that is plausible from his Facebook presence. Vince is portrayed as having great personal charisma and this is assumed to translate to his onscreen appearances in character.Yet for the greater screen time he performs “as himself ” in a simulated pro-filmic world interacting with his team, associates and girlfriends. Moreover, although the viewer is permitted a glimpse of Vince acting poorly in Medellin, very little footage of the highly successful box-office hits in which he appears are shown – possibly because they are framed as brilliant, and therefore have to be demonstrably better compared to the already hyper-real settings that function as “normal” in Hollywood. It falls to various cameo appearances such as Mark Wahlberg’s and the engorged adulation of extras as fans to testify to the charismatic quality of what little is seen of Vince’s acting. Critical cameos such as Matt Damon castigating a self-absorbed Vince for failing to donate to the global charity organization ONEXONE are a positive reminder of the world outside the magic circle of Entourage. They are too few to dispel the overall atmosphere of creative self-absorption. In any case, the policy of cameos overall implies, if not asserts, that having a big name is the transparent signifier of big talent and this is all that matters. The mimetic credentials of Entourage rest loosely on Mark Wahlberg’s experience as an upand-coming star who, like Vince Chase, surrounded himself with a similar support group of 86

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friends and family. Wahlberg, who appears periodically on the margins of the action, serves as an executive producer for the show and is a reflexive guarantor of its “realism”  – to say nothing of the importance of his star power in reassuring investors that the series will attract high ratings. Writer/director Doug Ellin claims that audiences can relate to the series, despite its nouveau riche setting, because it is more about friendship and peer group support than it is about Hollywood lifestyle and bling, notwithstanding the abundance of the latter. For Wahlberg, somewhat contradicting Ellin, Entourage is a docu-drama about the “realities” of show business. But for fans of the series, its appeal rests on its depiction of a Playboy life style replete with money and free sexual relationships. Set against the actual presence of collective forms of organisation such as Craft Guilds, Entourage constructs a vision of creative involvement that is driven by above-the-line personal connections. The members of the Entourage do not have to be trained in what they do or have any particular skills beyond an agreeable sociability.Vince as a star gets to choose people he likes to represent him, e.g. E as his manager, and his choice of projects is closely connected to his personal liking for the individuals involved. To some extent these features reflect the fact that motion picture and television production are personalized. Given that there is an oversupply of talent and requisite skills, selection on the basis of “liking” and cooperativeness becomes an important criterion, especially in a precarious, project-driven labour market, which Hollywood intensifies with its winner-takes-all competitiveness and its “gated” entry points. The suggestion that the Entourage clique is an open structure driven by friendship and liking may seem more generous and liberal than selection by strict skill qualifications. But in reality it is more exclusive, more driven by cronyism – you are either in or out and any amount of skill may not alter that. The key relational glue that holds the series together is found in the evocation of a specific affective economy, namely the desire for maintaining a homo-social bond typified by the recurrent “hug it out bitch ritual” when two people (usually male) hug one another to dispel anger or sadness (Click et al. 2015). Such bonding is represented as surpassing racial and ethnic divisions, divisions arising from sexual preference or orientation, as a coming together of men as brothers. Conversely, emphases on the inequalities of wealth and power related to race, class and gender are presented as a threat to male bonding and neutralized by the generosity of Vince and the affection the brothers have for each other and those they like. The men of Entourage reflect different aspects of straight masculinity under conditions of challenge  – from powerful women, and other men, from gay and lesbian culture, from the challenges of sexual promiscuity and bisexuality, from the predatory forces of business and commercial opportunism. The exception of Ari’s gay assistant, Lloyd, actually proves the heteronormative rule because it is finally his contribution to the team rather than his camp persona that makes him acceptable. Indeed, unlike the straight members of the Entourage, Lloyd only survives his conflicted relationship with his ultra-Alpha male boss, Ari, despite ‘homophobic’ abuse, because he is efficient. But for the core members of the Entourage, the fact that they stay together despite errors and incompetence proves that friendship, loyalty and homosocial bonding can transcend all. An important element of relational glue, and part of the Utopian appeal of Entourage as a series, is its depiction of a gift economy operating in the midst of a highly commoditized set of employment relationships and practices. Such a depiction nonetheless has its limits, because though gift exchange enriches the “brothers” they do not enlarge or enrich the professional community. Rather what is sustained is an exclusive micro-portion of it. Even allowing this privative quality, the personal services offered are dependent on the person(a) of the star, who provides for others in return for obedience and submission.Vince is the Big Man and his team 87

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only gives back to him what he has already given to those who lack his talent or, for that matter, do not have talents relevant to the realm of motion picture production (Sahlins 1963). This does not mean that the cadet members of Vince’s entourage have no value, but rather that the services they offer are only useful as a contribution to group cohesion. Indeed part of the dramatic friction occurs precisely because of the conflict between personal loyalty and market success – the conflicts between Vince and his older and less successful brother, Drama, or between E and the agent Ari Gold are recurrent features of the plot and a device for generating conflict. What is particularly marked is that despite the emphasis on brotherhood, bonding is not portrayed as a horizontal union of equals but as a vertical bonding around the figure of the star as the Big Man who provides all the wealth and opportunity. In the closing episode of Season 8 a question is posed – will the fraternal bond survive the development of new relationships? The core members of the Entourage plan to go their separate ways to pursue other creative opportunities and devote more quality time to girlfriends or long-suffering wives and families. The narrative arc seems bent on priming its core fanbase – uniquely male in the 18–45 demographic and prone to watching the series in fraternal groups – for a return to the “real” world. In the realm of Mimesis One, it seems that homosocial bonding must undergo a rite of passage through Mimesis Two in order to accept the demands and responsibilities of heterosexual adulthood. As one fan eloquently if mournfully observed: Entourage is like the world according to Maxim and now we’re back to ordinary life and ordinary mainstream television—We all grew up abruptly—forget hanging with the guys and find something you can stomach snuggling with your girl. (Russell and Schau 2014: 1052) But all is not lost. Ari Gold, the uber-agent, having vowed to spend more time with his wife and family, is being pursued for the position of studio head. If he decides to accept the offer he will have, he declares, as much power as God in Hollywood. The series ends on a cliff-hanger: will brotherly love finally succumb to personal ambition, or will the essential reality of scarce charisma and talent lead to a reincarnation somewhere in the diegetic sweet hereafter? Despite the declining popularity of the series, as measured by ratings and critical opinion, in 2015 a theatrical version of Entourage was released. The opening sequences show E, Drama and Turtle on a power boat cleaving the blue sea off Ibiza, heading to join Vince at his party on a luxury super-yacht that is stacked with beautiful and fun-loving babes. One reviewer commenting on the movie observed: Entourage is (and always has been) aspirational wish fulfilment about life in Los Angeles, laden with product placement, obnoxious party scenes, and easily accessible, consequencefree sex with nameless women for even the most putridly charmless characters. (Sims 2015) This shift in mise-en-scène suggests a new level of self-glorification and an accession to the pinnacle of glitz and fame (Tallerico 2015). This transcendence is visually marked. On television, the opening sequence of each episode depicted the “chums” driving a car with New York plates down Hollywood Boulevard and then, with a jump cut, down Sunset. To further emphasize the consubstantiation of the series with the centre of Hollywood as represented to tourists, the leading cast names are digitally superimposed onto recognizable storefronts and buildings near the Hollywood and Highland intersection. In the film, the scale of consubstantiation has magnified 88

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with upscale and more prestigious locations such as Rodeo Drive, Staples Center, Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum emblazoned with the names of an extended cast as stars. Complementing this shift – even Turtle is a Tequila millionaire – the trappings of fame are more pharaonic in their opulence and exclusivity, more exotic and more erotically enticing. The transition from the simulated extra-cinematic real of Hollywood effected in the film repositions the viewer in the space of a trans-global Iconicity. This positioning affects the supersession of the diegesis from Hollywood itself, which at least contained a semblance of a concrete location, into the hyper-reality of Mimesis Two. In this transition the thematic register of Entourage finally embraces the vision of Hollywood as a global nouveau riche dreamland, dripping with sex, money and bling. The historically nurtured image of Hollywood as shrine now comprehends itself as a gated enclave. The movie, for all its self-centred celebration of success, received a poor critical reception, with 34% approval on Rotten Tomatoes and, worse, a poor box office (costing US$30 million, its total earnings from worldwide theatrical release and DVD/Blu-ray was US$46 million).

Conclusion: the end of media-centric populism? Overall, Entourage is a reflexive exploration of the trials and tribulations of building a successful career, the role of networking, creative inspiration and the search for private durable relationships, in a glamorous and, if success comes, handsomely rewarded environment. As a heterosexual bromance in a celebrity reality television format, the series and, more narcissistically, the movie are posited as an enclave of authentic relationships inside an archipelago of insincerity and commodity exchange.Yet from the perspective of challenges to patriarchy, the ability to commodify the self acts as a defence against challenges to masculine hegemony. The brothers can be confident as men as long as Vince demonstrates his potency at the box office (Lee 2010). As a larger process that reaches out to the experiences of fans, the Entourage series creates a televisual and cinematic non-place that can be visited to affirm brotherhood and an engagement with the elusive and remote world of Hollywood and its satellites, where personal relationships – loyalty, family and commitment – count more for success than ability, just as a media profile counts for more than talent. In this sense, Entourage is about Los Angeles itself and by extension Vince’s team is a metonym of Hollywood as it would be – if it were not an entirely dispersed and fragmented material reality. Undeniably in its celebration of the close-knit creative team, there is an evocation of what it is like to live and work in Los Angeles. But this seemingly inclusive, utopian evocation rests on a process of situational stratification where members of a peer group (as in high-school cliques) rate others on looks, sexiness, physical prowess, wit and situational prestige (Collins 2000). This development signals that celebristars are no longer a powerless elite but rather an entertainment phalanx of global capitalism.When these background consolidations are overlooked – as they are for the most part in accounts of celebrity culture – celebristars are free to be life-style coaches and models for a successful self-commodification. In these circumstances they are presented to fans as the poster boys and girls of neoliberalism: [Y]oung people draw upon class and gender distinctions that circulate within celebrity discourses (proper/improper, deserving/undeserving, talented/talentless and respectable/ tacky) as they construct their own identities in relation to notions of work, aspiration and achievement. … these distinctions operate as part of neoliberal demands to produce oneself as a ‘subject of value’. (Allen and Mendick 2013) 89

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Entourage does depict some of the emotional and ethical costs of meeting this demand, replacing the traditional critique of “selling out” with a meditation on (but mostly a celebration of) the importance of networking and (predominantly) male bonding, wherein skills and competencies must defer to factors of appearance, looks and comportment. In this shift, ascribed qualities typical of the well-born and -bred replace notions of achievement based on skill and merit (Rojek 2001). In short, physiocracy – the rule of a cultivated nature – supplants meritocracy. The deepening inequality of wealth and income today has created a profound chasm between the famous and the ordinary. As celebristars merge into an exclusive species as agents of global accumulation they lose the semiotic capacity (if they even desire it) to sustain the contradiction between the ordinary and extraordinary that in the past was the basis of charisma (Dyer 2004). Rather they strive to seem extraordinary in order to claim a place on the right side of the neoliberal division between winners and losers.9 And if they do not try, others certainly will, and seem morally superior for not having given up on their dream. It might be argued following Alexander’s arguments for a strong programme in cultural sociology that celebristars possess an autonomous power to create meaning (Alexander 2003). But this claim, if ever valid, would paradoxically belong to the Hollywood System when control over the stars as types reduced them to signals of a fixed identity so that the general public could construe them (actually misconstrue) as agents with autonomous personalities. In today’s hypertrophied displays of inequality and relentless weighing of authenticity, celebristars provide no coherent object of identification, enacting a kind of psychotherapy of being famous for those, the remainder, who cannot hope to be. Like a homeopathic exercise in reflexivity, Entourage demonstrates the improbability of success for those who seek it on talent alone. But with its lush evocations of free and easy consumerism, glamour and sex, it feeds the fantasies of success denied by its plots and subplots. Ultimately what the series reveals is that celebristars are no longer a powerless elite, in fact or on screen. They are too luminous to be ordinary, and their lives too luxurious to be within reach. As a contemporary apotheosis of fame as an absolute individual possession, Entourage is an exercise in cruel optimism (Berlant 2011). Hollywood may be unfair but it will produce the good life for those lucky enough to generate profits. Friendship, Loyalty and Love itself is not worth giving, moves nothing, if they lack good box office or high ratings. Welcome to the glitter dome of the cash-nexus.

Notes 1 Alberoni also underestimated the institutional power of stars who, in the studio system, depending on their contract, could exercise power over directors and the casting of other actors. Moreover their political connections if sub rosa were real, with Gary Cooper,Ward Bond and, par excellence, Ronald Reagan advocating right-wing attitudes in private. 2 Note the remuneration of top stars compared to corporate executive compensation is less generous and more contingent; moreover is it premissed on years of under-employment and low pay until the “overnight break” occurs, which for many actors never does. However, the scale of recompense for the likes of Downey is out of proportion to the pre-success exiguous earnings (www.telegraph.co.uk/culture/ film/11449841/hollywood-actor-low-salary.html). 3 Computer graphic imagery and effects are cinematically too perfect and, like the dinosaurs in Jurassic Park, have to be “dirtied” down and, crucially, made “real” through the performed reactions of leading actors (Bolter and Grusin 2000: 157; Manovich 2001: 199). 4 For Boorstin, writing in the 1960s, the distinction between hero – a person of measurable achievement – and celebrity as someone known for being well known still had analytic bite. In our times, thanks to media saturation all stars are celebritized and become to a greater or lesser degree human pseudo-events. 5 Boorstin already appreciated this with his concept of the Big name. 6 A parallel distinction is made in memory studies between communicative memory formed through everyday patterns of association and cultural memory as an official culture of commemoration. This 90

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distinction underscores the dialectical tension between everyday experience and the materially objectified experiences provided by the media (Assman and Czaplicka 1995).The action of the mimetic circuit is also about the power to define what is forgotten as opposed to commemorated, what is of permanent significance against what is elusive and fleeting. 7 Given these circumstances and the fact of media saturation, Ricoeur’s model that postulates a realm of meaning (Mimesis One) independent of its artistic configuration seems implausible. There is no mimetic realm that is not already influenced by constitutive powers of the media. So, in effect, the model is recomposed as an interaction with two elements in a state of interaction  – Mimesis Two and Three. 8 Here, it might be argued, is an example of reflexive modernization in which the constitutive force of structure is weakened in favour of the exercise of individual agency (Lash 1993). 9 One index of this shift is the growth of Schadenfreude gossip, which can be read as an attempt to redress the balance between the ordinary and the extraordinary that perhaps through overcompensation drags the celebrity down into the realm of abnormality and incompetence (Cross and Littler 2010).

References Alberoni, F. 1972. The powerless ‘elite’: Theory and sociological research on the phenomenon of the stars. In D. McQuail (ed.), Sociology of Mass Communications. Harmondsworth: Penguin Books. Alexander, J.C. 2003. The Meanings of Social Life: A cultural sociology. New York: Oxford Univ. Press. Allen, K., and Mendick, H. 2013. Young people’s uses of celebrity: Class, gender and ‘improper’ celebrity. Discourse: Studies in the Cultural Politics of Education, 34(1): 77–93. Assmann, J., and Czaplicka, J. 1995. Collective memory and cultural identity. New German Critique, 65: 125–133. Avalon, J. 2011. Clooney’s not kidding: Actor adds ‘arrested activist’ to credit roll, www.newsweek.com/ clooneys-not-kidding-actor-adds-arrested-activist-credit-roll-68527. Bauman, Z. 1996. From pilgrim to tourist or a short history of identity. S. Hall and P. Du Gay (eds), Questions of Cultural Identity (pp.18–36). Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage. Bennett, J.  2008. The television personality system:Televisual stardom revisited after film theory. Screen, 49(1): 32–50. Berlant, L.G. 2011. Cruel Optimism. Durham, NC: Duke Univ. Press. Bolter, J.D., and Grusin, R.A. 2000. Remediation: Understanding new media. Boston, MA: MIT Press. Braudy, L. 2011. The Hollywood Sign: Fantasy and reality of an American icon. New Haven, CT: Yale Univ. Press. Click, M.A., Holladay, H.W., Lee, H., and Kristiansen, L.J. 2015.“Let’s Hug It Out, Bitch”: HBO’s Entourage, masculinity in Ccrisis, and the value of audience studies. Television & New Media, 16(5): 403–421. Collins, R. 2000. Situational stratification:  A micro-macro theory of inequality. Sociological Theory, 18(1): 17–43. Couldry, N. 2003. Media Rituals: A critical approach. London: Routledge. Cross, S., and Littler, J. 2010. Celebrity and Schadenfreude:  The cultural economy of fame in freefall. Cultural Studies, 24(3): 395–417. Currid-Halkett, E. 2010. Starstruck: The business of celebrity. New York: Farrar, Straus and Giroux. Daily Telegraph. www.telegraph.co.uk/culture/film/11449841/hollywood-actor-low-salary.html. DeCordova, R. 2001. Picture personalities:  The emergence of the star system in America. Urbana:  Univ. of Illinois Press. Derrida, J. 1976. Of Grammatology. Trans. Gayatri Chakravorty Spivak. Baltimore, MD:  Johns Hopkins Univ. Press. Dyer, R. 2004. Heavenly Bodies: Film stars and society. New York: Routledge. Forbes Rich List. www.forbes.com/sites/natalierobehmed/2016/12/14/from-george-lucas-to-oprah-andjay-z-americas-richest-celebrities-2016/#4cdfd09f5959. Frank, T. 2001. One Market Under God: Extreme capitalism, market populism, and the end of economic democracy. Toronto: Anchor Canada. Gabler, N. 2011. Life: The Movie: How entertainment conquered reality. New York: Vintage. Giddens, A. 1991. Modernity and Self-Identity: Self and society in the late modern age. Palo Alto, CA:  Stanford Univ. Press. Goodman, E. 1961. The Fifty Year Decline and Fall of Hollywood. New York: Simon and Schuster. Gray, J. 2010. Show Sold Separately: Promos, spoilers, and other media paratexts. New York: NYU Press. Grinin, L. 2009. People of celebrity as a new social stratum and elite. Papers.ssrn.com. 91

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Gundle, S. 2013. Mussolini’s Dream Factory: Film stardom in fascist Italy. New York: Berghahn Books. Habermas, J. 1970. Technology and science as “ideology”. In Toward a Rational Society. Boston, MA: Beacon Press. Hall, S. 1998. Notes on deconstructing the popular. In J. Storey (ed.), Cultural Theory and Popular Culture: A reader. Harlow: Pearson. Handel, L.A. 1950. Hollywood Looks at its Audience: A report of film audience research. Urbana: Univ. of Illinois Press. Illouz, E. 2007. Cold Intimacies: The making of emotional capitalism. Cambridge: Polity. King, B. 1987. The Star and the commodity:  Notes towards a performance theory of stardom. Cultural Studies, 1(2): 145–161. King, B. 2003. Embodying an elastic self:  The parametrics of contemporary stardom. In T. Austin and M. Barker (eds), Contemporary Hollywood Stardom (pp. 45–61). London: Arnold. King, B. 2010. Stardom, celebrity, and the money form. The Velvet Light Trap, 65: 7–19. Klein, N. 2008. The History of Forgetting: Los Angeles and the erasure of memory. London: Verso. Kleinhenz, R., and Guerra, F. 2012. The Entertainment Industry and Los Angeles County Economy. Los Angeles: LACEDC. Lash, S. 1993. Reflexive modernization: The aesthetic dimension. Theory, Culture & Society, 10(1): 1–23. Lee, N. 2010. “Let’s Hug it out, bitch!” The negotiation of hegemony and homosociality through speech in HBO’s Entourage. Culture, Society and Masculinities, 2(2): 181. Manovich, L. 2001. The Language of the New Media. Boston, MA: MIT Press. Marcuse, H. 2013. One-Dimensional Man:  Studies in the ideology of advanced industrial society. London: Routledge. Marwick, A. 2013. Status Update. Celebrity, publicity, and branding in the social media age. New Haven, CT: Yale Univ. Press. McGuigan, J. 2002. Cultural Populism. London: Routledge. Meister, C.  2009. Philosophy of religion. In J.  Hinnells (ed.), The Routledge Companion to the Study of Religion, 2nd edn. Abingdon: Routledge. Mills, C.W. 1959. The Power Elite. Witham: Galaxy. Rojek, C. 2001. Celebrity. Hoboken, NJ: John Wiley & Sons. Rothenberg, E. The Road to Hollywood, at http://erikarothenberg.com/#works-by-series (accessed 30 May 2017). Russell, C.A., and Schau, H.J. 2014. When narrative brands end: The impact of narrative closure and consumption sociality on loss accommodation. Journal of Consumer Research, 40(6): 1039–1062. Sahlins, M.D. 1963. Poor man, rich man, big-man, chief:  political types in Melanesia and Polynesia. Comparative Studies in Society and History, 5(03): 285–303. Sender, K. 2012. The Makeover: Reality television and reflexive audiences. New York: NYU Press. Shields, R. 1991. Places on the Margin: Alternative geographies of modernity. London: Routledge. Sims, D. 2015. No one’s Having Fun in the Entourage Movie, accessed at www.theatlantic.com/entertainment/ archive/2015/06/no-ones-having-fun-in-entourage/394760/. Soja, E.W. 1989. Postmodern Geographies: The reassertion of space in critical social theory. New York: Verso. Street, J. 2004. Celebrity politicians: popular culture and political representation. The British Journal of Politics and International Relations, 6(4): 435–452. Tallerico, B. 2015. Review. www.rogerebert.com/reviews/entourage-2015. Taylor, C. 1989. Sources of the Self: The making of the modern identity. Cambridge, MA: Harvard Univ. Press. Thorp, M.F. 1939. America at the Movies. New Haven, CT: Yale Univ. Press. Turner, G. 2013. Understanding Celebrity. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage. Williams, R.H. 1991. Dream Worlds:  Mass consumption in late nineteenth-century France. Berkeley:  Univ. of California Press.

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6 Celebrity and religion Kathryn Lofton

Browsing the Internet, a reader arrives at a headline that conjoins the two major subjects of this essay. The headline reads: “Andrew Garfield thinks celebrity is the new religion.” The purpose of a headline is to draw a reader’s attention to a story. The dictionary definition of a story is an account of imaginary or real people and events told for entertainment. Note that the dictionary emphasizes the entertainment value of a story. Unlike other kinds of accounts, stories are narratives that seek especially to interest or amuse the hearer or reader. For a story to be a story it must arouse the curiosity or interest of its consumer. A story’s job is to fascinate, and, within the specific genre of newspaper stories, headlines are the recruitment effort. What, then, is this story? It is a story of a thought, a thought that is entertaining because it is held by a particular entertainer named Andrew Garfield. Shaggy-haired, sad-eyed, and prone to disarming interview disclosures, Garfield is an American-born actor who was raised in Great Britain. Work on the British stage as well as positive notices for his supporting work in The Social Network led to his casting as the title character in The Amazing Spider-Man. Always on the brink of superstardom, but seemingly choosing to recede from it, deciding instead to work on Broadway plays or small independent films, Garfield approaches fame as an object he has been handed against his better judgment. “My priority is the work, and the work is dependent on people not knowing very much about me”, Garfield told New York Magazine in a recent interview. Trying to keep himself away from the spotlight, but contractually obligated to promote the projects that employ him, Garfield riffs on the industry he occupies and how it privileges certain kinds of people, and certain stories, over others. Despite having starred in two “Spider-Man” films, Garfield doesn’t feel accepted in Hollywood. “None of us are accepted in this culture”, he said. “We’re only accepted if we are … well, name it. White …. Handsome, charming, charismatic, thin-enough eyebrows to be beautiful, but thick enough to be still be masculine. We are told constantly we’re not enough, we’re told constantly that we don’t have enough, we’re told constantly that we’ll never be enough”. Such abjection is typical for Garfield. He will confess that on the outside his life appears to be great, but that he is still deeply “f—ed up” in his own ways. He notes that he’s both “insecure and scared and don’t really know who I am”. This voice, with these thoughts, distinguishes itself through its nervousness. The headline could have been: “Andrew Garfield thinks he’s not enough,” and, insofar as it is a story about a celebrity revealing the underside of their celebrity, it 93

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might get some attention.Yet the story presses further, as Garfield digs into his critique of celebrity. “Celebrity is the new religion, as far as I can see, along with money, power, status”, he says. “It’s all the same umbrella — the seductive forces of evil, really”. The headline warned us: Andrew Garfield thinks celebrity is the new religion. But it didn’t quite give us this punchline. Namely, that Andrew Garfield thinks this religion is evil. Such commentary isn’t normal fare for Page Six, the web site on which Garfield’s comment can be found. The stories on Page Six normally involve celebrities or the urban elite who drive financial life and high society. But the headlines rarely achieve a critical note. Recent headlines on Page Six include: “Lady Gaga and Taylor Kinney call off engagement”, “Kim Kardashian is earning nearly $1 million to party”, “Bill Cosby is ‘completely blind’ and homebound”, and “Gwyneth Paltrow can’t stop talking about her vagina”. Such stories update you on the broader established stories of celebrities: whom they are dating, how they are faring, how much money they are making, and what interests them. The overarching story of Page Six is the story of celebrity itself: how people stay fascinating to us by the stories we can create from them. Contemporary celebrity culture, contemporary media culture, and contemporary consumer culture are therefore indistinguishable insofar as they collaborate to bring people to stories of people who become things insofar as they sell themselves as stories. Into this intertwining network of co-conspirators Andrew Garfield speaks and creates a story through this speech. Not a viral story; nothing that produced a meme. Just another story among the thousands of stories produced to account for the celebrities that fascinate readers. These headlines, written in something colloquially known as headlinese, cohere to certain conventions: articles are omitted, verbs are in the present tense, and long words are replaced by shorter words or abbreviations. Headlinese knows how to tighten our confusion into purposeful solicitation:  whatever complexity you may find inside the story, the point of the story is this (the couple is no longer engaged, the comedian is in a bad way). Page Six is a component of the New York Post, a newspaper with a long and multifaceted role in American politics. Founded by Federalists, edited by one of the leading liberal lights of nineteenth-century letters, and bought out by scandalmonger Rupert Murdoch in 1976, the Post is a tabloid, recognizable as such by its size (a smaller page format, put together like a magazine so that it can be read more easily by commuters in the subway) and sensationalist tone. Since the 1970s, the Post has become near-synonymous with smut, using a lurid red and black color scheme and big, punning headlines like CLOAK AND SHAG HER (when a CIA leader resigned over a sexual aff air) or HO-NO! (when the New York governor got caught with a prostitute). A 1995 Hollywood movie even took its title from a Post headline:  Headless Body in Topless Bar. No topic evades Post headlinese. Religions get coverage, too: “Top imam says beating wives is the only way to control them”, “St. Patrick’s and bishop’s family fighting over corpse”, “Evangelical Christians wonder where the hell their power went”, and “Go to church if you want to live longer” are just some of the Post headlines addressing religions in 2016. The Post is, therefore, a specific media voice in the broad celebrity landscape. Andrew Garfield tells readers, listeners, and fans that there is something disturbing about all of this, all of these stories and the inciting thoughts that are used to sell them. The Post seems relatively ecumenical on the matter: any story involving a celebrity doing something which affects their celebrity (that is, our fascination with their story) is worth telling. Touted as the nation’s oldest continuously published daily newspaper, the Post isn’t a flash in the pan. The Old New York Evening Post Building is a designated landmark listed on the National Register of Historic Places. Andrew Garfield isn’t warring against the lowbrow tabloids. He is an occupant of one of the longestrunning voices of public interest in US history. And, in it, he says:  whatever other religions 94

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there may be, there is one that is the religion. And it is the one that defines Page Six, which is a metonym for the Post itself. In which case, is the Post the scripture of celebrity religion? Scholarship on the relationship between celebrity and religion is nearly nonexistent. One or two major works on celebrity have included short ruminations on the analogies between celebrity and religion (Chidester 2005; Rojek 2006). Some have even taken Andrew Garfield’s view and argued that celebrity is a religion defining our age (Ward 2011). But celebrity has not been a rich topic of consideration with the study of religion or the field of celebrity studies. To be sure, there is a growing bibliography about the religious elements of popular culture artifacts (such as the eschatology in Bruce Springsteen songs) or the religious valence of consumer interest (like the devotional intensity of My Little Pony fandom). But there is not a strong bibliography assessing celebrity and religion.This is an incongruous silence because for most consumers of celebrity the connections between celebrity and religion are not absurd to observe. You don’t have to agree with Andrew Garfield to discern the worshipful feelings fans have for their favorite pop stars or the imitative behaviors such devotions may produce. But the study of religion has evaded celebrity, perhaps for some of the same reasons that it has been ambivalent about terms like magic, faith, or spirit. The study of religion has for much of its formal history been quite committed to debunking faddish feeling. Historical scholarship, anthropological research, and philosophical explorations in the study of religion often seek to show how things attributed with magic, prescribed to faith, or argued on behalf of spirit are humanly constructed. Celebrities are therefore ripe for scholarly assessment within religious studies yet also too easy by half. Celebrities are the human construction of allurement. For the study of religion, tackling a celebrity is like asking a Michelin chef to boil an egg: they can do it, but they’d rather spend their time showing their skills on something much harder to crack. Like Blanquette de Veau, or the Babylonian Talmud. Yet there is a real loss to celebrity studies without a stronger contribution from the study of religion. Without substantive consideration of what religion is and how it appears in our discursive landscape of diagnosis (tabloid or scholarly), we cannot assess the truth or fiction of Garfield’s remark. We simply agree with the Post that it is a thought to consume without conscientiousness about its consequence:  not only for the celebrities in question, but also for ourselves as consumers. To that end, this essay will review four areas of inquiry in which scholarship on religions, religious thought, and religion as a classificatory category has observations to offer the field of celebrity studies. I will draw upon some of the best work in recent years that has endeavored to think about popular culture as a repository of religious thought, as well as the more critical literature that suggests religion itself is a term without substantive use in ongoing academic assessment. What I hope to encourage is an interest in celebrity with regard to its commentary on religion, as well as encouraging scholarship on religion to consider celebrity an interesting testing ground for some of its particular interpretive quandaries.

Are celebrities gods? Certain psychologists have observed that those who worship celebrities are similar to those who engage in religious worship (Giles 2000). People imagine themselves as a celebrity’s biggest fan, they follow that celebrity’s movements, they are obsessed by the details of that celebrity’s life, they consider purchasing artifacts connected to that celebrity, and understand this attention to a celebrity to offer relief from everyday life. Such excessive admiration of or devotion to a person is the very definition of idolization. Is a celebrity, so idolized, a god competing for attention? 95

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“Celebrity worship” is a term coined by Lynn E.  McCutcheon and his collaborators through a series of articles in which they explored how fans related to celebrities they admired (McCutcheon et al. 2002). These researchers sought to profile something they called Celebrity Worship Syndrome (CWS), a disorder that they could diagnose through their use of the Celebrity Attitude Scale. This scale asserted that celebrity worship comprised one dimension in which lower scores on the Celebrity Attitude Scale involved individualistic behavior such as watching, listening to, reading and learning about celebrities while the higher levels of worship are characterized by empathy, over-identification, and obsession with the celebrity. In a 2002 article, “Thou shalt worship no other gods — unless they are celebrities: the relationship between celebrity worship and religious orientation”, John Maltby and his colleagues gave this attitude scale to 307 British participants in an attempt to describe the relationship between celebrity worship and religiosity. The results of this survey pointed out that as individual religiosity increases for those surveyed the tendency to “worship” celebrity decreases. Those who claimed to be more observant Christians or Hindus did not claim to have strong interest in celebrity. However, the details of the study suggest that in general religious people do not consider an actual conflict between worshipping their particular religious gods and interest in specific celebrities (Maltby et al. 2002). What does this tell us? Does it mean that the more religious someone is the less needful they are of celebrity? Or does it mean that people understand celebrities and gods as quite different? Exodus 20 in the Hebrew Bible begins this way: Then God spoke all these words: I am the Lord your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of slavery; you shall have no other gods before me.You shall not make for yourself an idol, whether in the form of anything that is in heaven above, or that is in the water under the earth.You shall not bow down to them or worship them, for I the Lord your God …. The research teams led by McCutcheon and Maltby worked in response to what they imagined to be a contradiction between this text and celebrity worship. If Christians or Jews were obsessed with a particular celebrity would they be in violation of this commandment? A  later study strengthened these findings, explaining that “many religious people either disregard this Biblical teaching or worship their favorite celebrity anyway, or they compartmentalize”. That is, those who align themselves with a religious identity and also connect strongly with individual celebrities “fail to connect the Biblical teaching to their tendency to lionize a favorite celebrity, therefore they perceive no contradiction” (McCutcheon et al. 2013: 324–325). Within the study of religion, philosophers of religion grapple with questions about the nature of the divine. Despite the fact that discussions of the nature of God dominate many philosophical traditions, philosophy of religion has had an uncomfortable place in modern departments of philosophy.“Philosophy, especially in the analytic tradition, prides itself on precision of terms and clarity of concepts”, Chad Meister has written. “Religious language, however, is often imprecise and veiled in mystery. This imprecision was challenged in the mid-twentieth century with the rise of logical positivism” (Meister 2010: 111). During the twentieth century, the widespread acceptance of the verifiability principle of meaning within philosophy led many thinkers to conclude that religious claims, which are nonempirical and thus not verifiable, can be seen as cognitively meaningless. Although philosophy of religion had a brief revival of interest in the later twentieth century – especially among Roman Catholic philosophers – the challenge for religion within philosophy departments remains serious. No matter the status of philosophy of religion as a particular branch of scholastic inquiry, its most significant contribution has been in its explorations of theism, especially the definitions of 96

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classical theism: the belief that a transcendent spiritual being exists who is omnipotent, omniscient, and perfectly good. Such a notion of theism can be found in any number of cosmological and philosophical systems, yet the majority of scholarship on divine attributes emerges from work addressing monotheistic systems such as Christianity, Islam, and Judaism. The working monotheistic assumption in the West from the Greeks onward has been that God is the most perfect possible being or, in other words, that God is that entity that is maximally great. On one hand, it could seem reasonable to then say celebrities are like God. For those who admire particular celebrities, they can perceive those celebrities as perfection incarnate:  omnipotent, omniscient, eternal. Actress Angelina Jolie, for example, has been described as exemplary in many ways – the hottest starlet, the ultimate female action star, the ideal celebrity humanitarian, and the paradigm for contemporary globalized motherhood.Yet many theologians also describe God as incorporeal, immutable, and imperturbable – characteristics it would be hard to ascribe to any celebrity, no matter their particular beauty, talent, charisma, or goodness. Indeed, mutability seems to be the trait that defines the most persistently successful celebrities. Again, observe Jolie’s brilliant self-staging through multiple incarnations. As one scholar observed of Jolie: “Her celebrity notoriety, significantly not of the caught out, abject, or addicted school of self-destruction (think Drew Barrymore or Lindsay Lohan), thus derived from its active, autographic capacity to infuse the domestic (her marriages), the familial (her father and brother), and her own body with self-authored impropriety, danger, and excess” (McHugh 2014: 9). Jolie’s fame is due to her talent for goading your fascination with her dynamic, and not consistent, story. Whereas classical Greek religion ascribed to their gods very human foibles, theism from Plato onward in the West has affirmed that God is purely good and could not be the author of anything evil. Even the Greeks would describe their gods as figures who transcend finite realities, able to shape-shift and wield power far beyond human capacity. Philosophers of religion have spilt a great deal of ink on the subject of divine attributes, weighing whether God can truly be timeless or endless, and trying to reconcile God’s compassion with his impassibility.Yet they are united in their certitude that God is a certain kind of Supreme Being whose very definition establishes values for those who acknowledge their divinity. While interest in Eastern religion and comparative religion has brought about a deeper understanding of and appreciation for the different non-theistic religious traditions, it has also brought to the fore an awareness of the many ways the different traditions conflict. Consider some examples: for Buddhists there is no creator God, whereas Muslims affirm that the universe was created by the one true God, Allah; for Advaita Vedanta Hindus, the concept of Ultimate Reality is pantheistic monism in which only Brahman exists, whereas Christians affirm theistic dualism in which God exists as distinct from human beings and the other created entities. None of these concepts for the divine seems especially helpful for descriptions of celebrities. The one category that emerges from the Western tradition that might be applicable is demiurge. Plato referred to the Demiurge as the entity that fashioned and shaped the world; the Demiurge was the deity who was responsible for the creation of the physical universe. For Plato the Demiurge is unreservedly good. Yet in Gnosticism, a philosophical movement from the second century, the Demiurge is a more compromised figure. Gnosticism distinguishes between the unknowable god and the knowable Demiurge.The Demiurge in this sense is focused wrongly on material reality, on physicality, and on sensuality. In this sense the Demiurge is not a good craftsperson of the material world as Plato described, but a devilish figure bent upon enslaving human beings in their materiality. Gnostic writings describe the dynamic between the true god and the Demiurge as primary to human experience – that all individuals struggle to reconcile the temptations of physical life with the higher order of consciousness and knowledge. Perhaps one way to think about celebrities as gods, then, is to think about how we use celebrities to 97

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think about human error and human materiality. Consider how many celebrity stories focus on their maintenance of and struggles with their physicality. For Gnostics, studying the errors and distortions of the Demiurge offered a way to expose the true nature of things. If we think of Gnosticism as one source material for comparative thinking about celebrity, we may then decide that celebrities are not like God as much as they are the shadow of God. Celebrities might be understood as the way we think about ourselves in light of highest values through a consideration of how humans fall short of them. Celebrities provide a forum to discuss moral failure (Van Den Bulck and Claessens 2013).

Are celebrities saints? Let us consider three different ways human beings can relate to other beings. These three ways are not exhaustive of the ways we can connect to one another, but they reflect consistently employed verbs for our connections with people whom we esteem:  worship, venerate, and follow. We often speak of worship in relation to gods, describing how people show respect and love for a particular superhuman power. Worship is something that individuals can claim to do individually (e.g. “I worship Allah”) but is used most frequently as a way to describe communal acts of ritualized respect (e.g. “we attended worship services this past Wednesday”). People also use worship to describe excessive admiration from someone, including toward those who are not precisely superhuman beings. We speak of worshipping entertainment figures, worshipping power, worshipping money, worshipping at the ‘altar’ of a lover. No matter the object of worship, however, the implication is the same: worship implies that whatever receives such attention is the thing held highest by a worshipper. If I say I worship Beyoncé, then I suggest that I like that pop star more than any other, and that I think the talents she displays are of near-superhuman capacity. To venerate or to follow someone suggests a slightly less intense form of attention. In a variety of religious traditions, the term saint describes an extremely virtuous person who is often venerated by followers of that tradition because of their holiness. We say that we venerate saints because of the dignity, wisdom, or dedication they showed in life. Within some traditions there are specific processes by which a person becomes a saint – namely, through procedures of canonization – and then becomes entitled to formal veneration. Those who venerate saints believe that they can intercede for people on earth even if they have been dead for many years. Although we colloquially refer to people as being “saints on earth”, in general a saint is almost always a figure who is no longer alive. Some scholars have suggested that there are productive analogies to be drawn between saints and celebrities, especially in the ways that both figures are managed after their deaths by people who are stewards and beneficiaries of their legacy (Harris 2013: 238). In the case of saints, physical relics (including pieces of clothing, accessories, or body parts) are known to be of great importance, connecting a devotee to the venerable life of the saint. Peter Brown (1981: 9), in his book The Cult of the Saints, talks about how strategic bishops would try to draw power to their churches from local shrines by transferring saints’ relics from shrines to churches. And Richard Howells (2011) has argued that the celebrity photograph is a modernday relic due to the connection it makes between fans and celebrities, paralleling the function of the saint’s relic for the devotee. Drawing on the example of candid photos taken by a stalker of reclusive actress Greta Garbo, Howells argues that this connection is of greater importance than the aesthetic value of the photograph itself; the candid photographs are ‘pieces’ of Garbo and have more value for the fan than any formal portrait of Garbo. Taken together, Brown’s and Howells’ research reminds us that saints and celebrities are both subject to circulation beyond their control; in each instance, the persistence of their identity (as saint or celebrity) is in part 98

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determined by how they come to be parceled into pieces that may be circulated and possessed by those who venerate them, and that those who venerate saints (or celebrities) do in some sense control them through this very activity of possession. Connecting celebrities with saints is a tempting analogy to draw since it brings together two categories of commodification, albeit from starkly different paradigms of circulation. A celebrity is a person whose story fascinates so much we keep buying it. A saint is a person whose story inspires so much we keep circulating it, parceling and reproducing it, and, indeed, marketing it. The critical difference, of course, is that saints only become so after death, whereas celebrities usually acquire that label in life. Saints usually become recognized as such through people who decide their experiences are worth circulating and enshrining, whereas celebrities participate more actively in their story – they are, as we have already observed with Angelina Jolie, autographic agents of their circulation. To be sure, saints’ lives are a serious business, with many traditions printing and reprinting the memoirs and diaries of saints, such as those by Thérèse of Lisieux (1873–1897) or Gemma Galgani (1878–1903), such that they might serve as ongoing inspiration to those who honor them. But saints’ lives are retrospectively honored as worthy of consumption. Celebrities’ lives are valuable for their circulation in the present tense. Perhaps, then, celebrities are more like religious leaders whom particular groups of people decide to follow. To follow someone can have many different levels of intensity: it could mean that you accept someone as your guide or leader; it could mean that you accept the authority of or give allegiance to that particular leader (e.g. many Germans followed Hitler); it could mean that you conform to or comply with something (e.g. I follow orders; you follow Oprah’s advice). To follow something could mean that you imitate or copy something, or use something or someone as an exemplar of right living. In contemporary social media parlance, to follow something is simply to agree to track it, to receive the updates of a particular person on Facebook or Twitter. Often “to follow” someone doesn’t mean to agree with them at all – it simply means you want to know what they’re saying. My cousin follows rapper Kanye West on Twitter not because he likes his raps but because he wants to know if Kanye West creates a new controversy in one of his capital-letter Tweets. Sociologists of religion have tried hard to understand the different ways that certain social groups emerge and structure themselves in repetitive ways. In particular, sociologists of religion have thought about the dialectical way in which religions and societies constitute themselves – how religions cannot be understood as separable from social norms, but are fostered in and through social norms and their reinterpretation, assertion, or revision. Historically, the sociology of religion was of central importance to the field sociology, with early seminal figures such as Émile Durkheim (1858–1917) and Max Weber (1864–1920) writing extensively on the role of religion in society. Today, sociologists have broadened their areas of interest, and for many such scholars religion is no longer considered key to the understanding of society. However, many of the concepts established by these early sociologists linger. For example, Max Weber sought to explain the distinctions between different types of religions. Weber believed that smaller bands of resistant, often radical, religious actors are sects, while the larger, and often more conservative, groups are churches. Weber used “church” to designate any well-organized religious body (not merely Christian ones). He distinguished churches from sects and sects from cults. Cults are, like sects, new religious groups. But, unlike sects, they can form without breaking off from another religious group (though they often do). The characteristic that most distinguishes cults from sects is that they do not advocate a return to pure religion but rather the embracing of something new or something that is perceived as having been completely lost or forgotten (lost scripture or new prophecy). Cults are also more likely to be led by charismatic leaders than are other religious groups and the 99

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charismatic leaders tend to be the individuals who bring forth the new or lost component that is the focal element of the cult (such as a lost scripture or a new prophecy) (Toennies et al. 1973). This returns us to Peter Brown’s exemplary history, The Cult of the Saints. In this book, Brown narrates why saints became such important figures in the third century and how they organized so much ritual life for the next several hundred years. The cult of the saints emerged from the grammar of Christianity, and reiterated certain figures and ideas within that discursive tradition that could be sidelined in the emerging high ecclesiology of church. Cults, like sects, often integrate elements of existing religious theologies, but cults tend to create more esoteric theologies from many sources. Cults also tend to attract the socially disenchanted or unattached (though this isn’t always the case) (Johnson 1963). In the cult of the saints, the primary objects of interest were the bones of Christian martyrs. The martyrs had imitated Christ and the remains of their bodies were thought to be points of contact between earth and heaven; these bones thus became the center of active cults. Relics were installed in basilicas or in special churches called martyria. The tombs of martyrs attracted pilgrims and greeted processions. Legends described the prodigious virtues of martyrs and saints, as well as the dreams or visions that revealed the resting places of still more powerful relics. In the contemporary period, scholars have wrestled with what relationship celebrities have with those who identify strongly with them. Steve Nolan has argued that the narrative strategies of film and liturgy work similarly upon their audiences, with each inviting their constituent subjects to identify with one another. As audiences tend to build a relationship of identification with the main character of a film, participants in the cult of the saints might identify with Jesus or with a particular saint (Nolan 2009: 61). Certainly the amount of ritual energy applied to the lives and afterlives of saints suggests that individuals who participated in pilgrimages, processions, and ritual engagement with saints’ relics wanted to connect themselves with the stories of these saints, as well as with the broader network of relationships (to communities, churches, and saviors) that these rituals establish between participants. Filmgoers may indeed become so attached to a particular story told and the actors who inhabit it that they begin to understand themselves as inside the film, as a part of the action, and as carriers of its atmosphere. Sociologists of religion would observe that the cult of the saints therefore has similarity with the cult of celebrity, insofar as observers of each engage deeply with the details of particular lives that are not theirs but that they inhabit through ritual activity, material engagement, and narrative occupation. “To visit a holy man was to go to where power was”, Peter Brown writes (Brown 1971: 87). Thinking about celebrities alongside the sociology of churches, sects, and cults invites a consideration of how their authority is like or unlike that of priests, saints, and holy men. Surely all of these figures offer nodes of power. But is all power equally potent? Surely even within religious leadership there are manifold versions of empowerment. A local pastor in Dubuque or a rabbi in Fresno may only be known to a few hundred people. Yet a spirit medium or itinerant evangelical may be familiar to hundreds. What makes a spirit medium a celebrity spirit medium? Perhaps the two most obvious lines of demarcation between local pastors and celebrity pastors are the scope of their effect and the commodification of their distribution. Consider mediums, those figures who claim to be able to communicate with the dead (an ability therefore known as mediumship). The primary work of the medium is to prove the survival of human spirit, personality, or energy after death. Nineteenth-century celebrity spirit mediums helped unite the diffuse spiritualist movement by spreading its basic practices and providing a shared ground of recognized personalities. Séances led by mediums were often presented on stage, in theaters and public halls; mediums frequently hired managers, toured internationally, and advertised in the 100

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press. Mediumship was a profession, with performances rewarded with money (Natale 2013). A celebrity medium was someone who a lot of people knew had the capacity to connect with the dead and who had an equal number of people interested to see their mediumship at work. Like celebrity spirit mediums, evangelical ministers attain national or international renown in part through the distribution of themselves: by circulating their personal stories and demonstrating their superhuman preaching capacities. During the heyday of the so-called “sawdust trail” of evangelical preaching, leading ministers produced a large swath of popular books regaling the world with their stories and thereby fostering their religious celebrity. Sold at tabernacle tents, Christian bookshops, and church fundraisers, promotional biographies and autobiographies about headlining American Christians showed how particular men learned to make themselves into God’s agents. Authorized by the evangelists themselves and marketed assiduously alongside their revivals, these biographies were not as different from one another as one might imagine; read together, they produced a somewhat consolidated profile of the American evangelical minister. Evangelical headliners wanted to be simultaneously seen as worldly but accessible, supernatural yet average (Lofton 2006). Their celebrity was premised upon telling and retelling a story of their commonplace virtues and extraordinary capacities for preaching the Christian message – for telling a good story about Christ. In this sense being a celebrity pastor was about effectively making Jesus Christ into a celebrity at the same time as circulating themselves as the preacher to showcase Him. Celebrity here becomes less a type of person than a type of insistent presence.

Is celebrity worship religious? In her writing about religion in the United States, Catherine Albanese argues that religion contains four characteristics:  creed (an explanation about the meaning of human life), code (rules that govern everyday behavior), cultus (rituals to enact the codes and creed), and community (groups of people formally or informally bound together by the creed, code, and cultus). Religion is a term to describe the system that organizes these four elements into common social identity (Albanese 2013). Using this four-part checklist, does it seem possible to claim celebrity worship comprises a religion? Although one can identify rituals such celebrants might have (e.g. making pilgrimages to the birthplaces or residences of particular stars), and it seems imaginable to locate specific communities (the audience at a particular Comic-Con discussion, the discursive community of an Internet chat room, or a dancing amphitheater crowd at a pop icon’s tour), isolating creeds and codes is harder. Whatever feelings, projections, or theologies that develop between individuals and celebrities, they cannot be described as disciplined by coherent doctrine or submissive to any particular rule. This does not mean that there are not features of the celebrity-fan relationship worthy of analysis by scholars of religion. Anthropology of religion might be especially helpful as a tool to analyze the kinds of communities forged through ritual oriented around celebrity. Anthropological studies of religion had their beginnings in the late nineteenth century with the works of Max Müller (1823–1900), W.  Robertson Smith (1846–1894), Edward B.  Tylor (1832–1917), and James G. Frazer (1854–1941). Rightly accused of armchair scholarship, these thinkers nonetheless produced a large amount of writings about religion. They sought to produce an account of religious life that explained differences between people – why, for example, rituals surrounding death among the Yoruba were different from those practiced by Muslims  – but also identified what was common between people and universal to ritual activity. Such comparative analysis of human behavior was rife with interpretive risk. Later critics would observe that this early generation of anthropologists was biased in favor of certain civilizations over others, and 101

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that in general there was a lack of subtlety in their appraisal of particular community dynamics (not to mention their inability to recognize diversity within tribes or communities). Clifford Geertz (1926–2006) moved the field of anthropology from such armchair perspectives that leaned toward functionalist accounts of human behavior toward a more detailed anthropological hermeneutics. In his writings, Geertz used what he called ‘thick description’ to convey the details of local knowledge. Reading cultures as his literary colleagues approached texts, Geertz offered an account of religion as a cultural system that indicated his indebtedness to narrative strategies of interpretation. Geertz suggested that every group – and every individual – may have a religion, even if no one in that group believes in a god or an afterlife or any of the more familiar trappings of organized religion. Every group has a religion because every group has some overall framework that all its members share in common, to make sense out of life and guide behavior. Geertz (1973: 90) defined religion as (1) a system of symbols which acts to (2) establish powerful, pervasive, and long-lasting moods and motivations in persons by (3) formulating conceptions of a general order of existence and (4) clothing these conceptions with such an aura of factuality that (5) the moods and motivations seem uniquely realistic. This description of religion gained ascendance within the broader humanities because it trained the scholar’s eye upon a particular set of evidence (i.e. symbols) with particular effects (powerful, pervasive, and long-lasting moods and motivations). At the same time that Geertz wrote about religion as such a cultural system, Melford Spiro wrote about religion as “an institution consisting of culturally patterned interaction with culturally postulated superhuman beings” (Spiro 1966: 96). Together these anthropologists pointed scholarly attention toward especially redolent symbols. Around those symbols one could find ritual behavior and community formation. Around these symbols, then, one might discern religion. Both Geertz and Spiro came under fire – successors accused them of having an overly systematic view of culture, an inattention to the political dimensions of cultural activity, and a propensity to over-interpret the specific details of their cases.Yet their work helps those of us who study celebrity to think about the intensity with which particular celebrities are imagined, assessed, and venerated. Fans have strong attractions to the celebrities that interest them, and often can define their social identities in relation to those celebrities and the social systems correlated with that celebrity’s power. Scholarship on fandom has focused increasingly on the ways the Internet and social media create greater contexts to develop social interest and connectivity. In particular researchers have homed in on the moment of celebrity death as an instance when “the research can most fully understand certain psychological and social functions of the media celebrities and certain aspects of parasocial interactions” (Courbet and Courbet 2014: 276). Parasocial interactions are those socio-affective relationships that are one-directional:  the fan loves the celebrity even if that fan has had no actual social engagement with that celebrity (Giles 2000). Two researchers sought to specify the endurance of such parasocial interactions through a qualitative survey of fans’ reactions to the death of pop star Michael Jackson (Courbet and Courbet 2014).What those researchers discovered was that the uses of interpersonal communications and social media operate differently depending on whether the fan has based the construction of their identity on the image of Michael Jackson or on their position as a member of the social group of fans. Fans whose identity was based on Jackson himself needed to rearrange their model of personal identity once he had died, whereas those who conceived of themselves first and foremost as fans just returned to his mammoth corpus of music.Those fans said that they felt a strong need to dance by copying Michael Jackson’s typical dances and listening to his music on a loop. The death of Michael Jackson offers a rich territory to use sociological techniques (such as Courbet and Courbet’s survey) as well as the more interpretive strategies of anthropologists like Geertz. The intensely memorializing vocabulary describing Michael Jackson in the wake of his 102

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death mirrored the confusions of his life. Described in obituaries simultaneously as “childlike” and a “troubled soul”, Jackson seemed to possess qualities of someone both old too young, and young too far into old. The desolation of his estate, which he named Neverland, became a metaphor for his inner fetal rocking, but also an eerie embodiment of his uncanny set of skills. Despite his gestures to stock manliness (the frequent choreographed crotch grab, the many video damsels), his exclamatory rock falsetto endures as his signature sign: the sound that was a metonym for his person. To the archive of transcendence he donates the flight of that sound, of his voice reaching for high-flying punctuation. The transitioning body, too, slunk in ways supernatural, no matter what fedora or sequins or epaulets flashed. Cultural memory will conjure him as a tragic infant divine, never quite managing to keep the best of little Michael into the multimillions of an international reign. Yet divine his muscularity remained, pulsing and pouncing through screens and stages with an impetus that had no obvious natural source. Easy divine parallels prove limiting, however, since it was the case that Michael Jackson never moved by magic. He invented that stage. He choreographed his dance. He hustled his singleglove wares. In this, he was not so incomparable. Something happened to the celebrity icon in the 1980s. Scholars identify this as a decade of exponential magnification of the paparazzo’s lens, and the multimedia diversification which created a new sort of permeating brand identification. But the iconic shift noteworthy here is the differential work ethic. Icons like Marilyn Monroe and Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis did work, but by the 1980s they seemed rather indolent when posed alongside the laboring stagecraft of other single-name celebrities. Consequentially the icon’s eroticism calcified:  Madonna, Michael, and Oprah were working too hard to be sexy. Indeed, they worked too hard to be believed. Michael Lambek and Andrew Strathern, in their inter-regional study of the relations between persons and bodies in Africa and Melanesia, attribute the burgeoning anthropological interest in the body as a site of scholarly study to its “increased visibility and objectification within late capitalist consumer society”, as well as to a shift in academic focus to the domain of lived experience and the effects of the social realm on the body, to the body as signifier, and mind/body holistic issues (Lambek and Strathern 1998: 5). In the 1980s, the celebrity body became a machine, one known as much for its handlers and backstage rigging as it was for its unique productions. The celebrity was no longer the demigod of Olympian descent; it served as its own deus ex machina. On the subject of Michael Jackson and the specific machina of his religious meaning, one might consider the invocations of religion or religious meaning in his music (e.g. his song “Human Nature”), the role of specific sects and churches in his biography (from Jehovah’s Witnesses to errant rabbis to flirtations with Islam), or the religion of his fans (all those screaming Japanese armies). Such commentaries are unlikely to provide much interpretive heft. Michael Jackson was not, in the end, a terribly thick subject for religious consideration: he dallied and discoed on the smooth tip of substance. Someone named “God” did, as he testified, inspire nearly every lyric. Pressed on the point, he mostly repeated himself, or offered vague dismissals of patriarchic doctrine. His cited divinity offered verbal mortar for his explanatory limits. What is most tugging to those questing for the religious Michael Jackson is not to be found in biography. Rather, it is, always and forever, in the deus of those songs. It is difficult to think of another singer who has produced more music that serves such ritual function, be it Halloween (“Thriller”), peace summits (“We Are The World”), or the midnight club surge (“Don’t Stop ’Til You Get Enough”). This musician knew how to capitalize upon the liminal gap between fear and pleasure, between acrimony and unity, between exhaustion and electricity, between rape and desire, between genders, between races, and between ages. He performed on the space of transition, what the French ethnographer Arnold van Gennep called rite de passage. Perhaps righteously, the reporters and detectives found in that wobble between things foul play. But in 103

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the dancing delight of our most sentimental rites – at the wedding, at the middle school dance, or in the child’s bedroom – such talk of Michael’s molesting grotesque seems sacrilegious. Or it seems to miss the point: the glory of this voice, and the beats he pulled with a snap, was in its denial of this world, of its codes and clarities. The way you make me feel, you really turn me on, he sang.You give me fever like I’ve never, ever known, and you knock me off my feet. Michael Jackson sang about his body, and about the exceptional moments when you forgot your body. This song made his voice one of singular universal resonance. No matter how particular were Jackson’s own proclivities and transitions, he found a way to sing and dance those specificities into a universal song. This is how celebrities no longer form a subject of religious feeling, but become themselves frames for religion.

Does celebrity religion matter? Rapper Kanye West tells his mother-in-law that he’s a Christian, and that “it’s important to me that I grow, and walk, and raise my family with Christian values”. Hip hop star Ice Cube discusses his conversion to Islam and soul singer Tina Turner explains how Buddhism changed her life. Actress Jennifer Lawrence says she prays every night before she goes to sleep. Comics Jim Gaffigan and Stephen Colbert talk about the effect their Catholicism has on their comedy. Showrunner Mindy Kaling writes TV episodes about Hindu holidays; comic actor Rainn Wilson launches a nonprofit organization in service to the principles of his Baha’i faith. And in a 2009 interview with the Christian Broadcasting Network on how his films’ religious messages have influenced people, director and screenwriter Tyler Perry said, “I’ve seen lots of people who don’t go to church, who have no concept of God, who have never really thought about it, begin to change their lives because of something that was said in the film or something the character invited them to see”. Each of these instances of testimony and creative activity involves identities we might call religious and encouragements on behalf of something we call religion. But what difference to celebrity does religion make? Thinking about religion makes two substantive adjustments to our thinking about celebrity. First, thinking about religion helps us to understand the intense scrutiny under which we place celebrities. Scholars of religion help us understand that such scrutiny has a long history, one in which individuals become objects of inquiry and nominate themselves as stories for our entertainment and moral interest. Within celebrity studies there is nascent interest in such moral interpretation of narrative. For example, consider Rebecca Feasey’s analysis of reader responses to heat magazine:  “Popular star coverage appeals to the reader precisely because it can be used to engage in debates about fundamental moral issues, such as infidelity and the role of violence in society without passing judgments and making potentially unpopular comments about friends, family and work colleagues” (Feasey 2008: 693). Given the phenomenal increase in online commentary, the archive of reader response to pop performers, celebrity entertainers, and iconic leaders offers an incomparable point of access to the moral equivocations of the contemporary public sphere. Rather than understanding replies to celebrities as reactions to kitsch distractions and therefore unworthy of serious engagement, scholars may see these reactions as places of identity formation and social conflict. Precisely because the stakes are low, celebrity gives opportunities for unmitigated moral combat: on that terrain of froth, real lines of moral and theological demarcation are found. A review of comments beneath any People.com article quickly shows that readers link the minutiae of celebrity reportage to global questions of political, economic, and ethical significance. If we see the field of celebrity as a field of religion, we may be more willing to understand the serious reverberations to reports about a star’s new haircut or a singer’s struggles to 104

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get pregnant. Religion is a word that magnifies and intensifies whatever it touches, turning a touch into a blessing and an utterance into a prayer. Imagining celebrity studies as a study of such magnifications may connect it to the broader humanities and social sciences through routes it has not yet accessed. Even if celebrity studies as a field of inquiry does not get interested in religion, it will still need to find words for the expanding power of religion. By every metric, celebrity power seems only to increase in its reach and effects:  politicians can’t function without pulling upon its narrative strategies and signal icons, economic policies can’t work without its endorsement, and few people move through the world without buying products or becoming products in light of the commodification of self that has been perfected by the twenty-first-century celebrity. Daniel Boorstin (1992: 13) contends that celebrities have “[come] to overshadow pale reality”. William Howell and Trevor Parry-Giles (2015) have suggested that celebrities overshadow local and national government as well as the police apparatus. Celebrities might judge on behalf of others or themselves – but either way, their negative judgment creates serious problems for the state. As we try to explain how celebrities have become so powerful, we may find that the language of greatest use to us is that of religions. In religions, unreachable and untouchable abstractions become material reality; in religions, the absence of a résumé has no consequence on the venerability of a particular person; in religions, communities unite to articulate outrage, despair, and principles for survival. Catharsis is the coin of the religious and celebrity realm – a catharsis that lasts only as long as the next production of such release. “King of Shock Rock” Alice Cooper has been a devout Christian since he gave up drinking. A rock star whose concerts look like horror films, Cooper nonetheless has strong thoughts about the relationship between being a person and being a god. According to an interview with CNS News, Cooper underwent a transition in his own self-understanding. “Before, you’re always selfcentered, everything is always for you, yourself is God”, Cooper said on the difference his faith has made in his life. “Humans make lousy gods, we have to let God be God and us be what we are.” If Andrew Garfield, the actor who began this essay, heard this quotation, he might agree with the theology but invite us to consider from whom we’re hearing it. Why is Alice Cooper’s testimony worth hearing? As Garfield says, we’re listening because celebrity is our religion. If it wasn’t, we’d have no reason to track every single thing a celebrity says. Such attention, such obsessive regard for the stories certain story-tellers tell, only makes real sense in the space of scrupulous attention that the word religion describes.

References Albanese, C.L. 2013. America: Religions and Religion, 5th edn. Belmont, CA: Wadsworth. Armour, E. 2011. Thinking otherwise: Derrida’s contribution to philosophy of religion. In M. Joy (ed.), Continental Philosophy and Philosophy of Religion (pp. 39–60). New York: Springer. Arthur, L.B. (ed.) 1999. Religion, Dress, and the Body. Oxford: Berg. Boorstin, D. 1992. The Image: A Guide to pseudo-events in America. New York: Vintage Books. Brown, P. 1971. The rise and function of the holy man in late antiquity. The Journal of Roman Studies, 61: 80–101. Brown, P. 1981. The Cult of the Saints: Its rise and function in Latin Christianity. Chicago: Univ. of Chicago Press. Chidester, D. 2005. Authentic Fakes: Religion and American popular culture. Berkeley: Univ. of California Press. Courbet, D., and Fourquet-Courbet, M.-P. 2014.When a celebrity dies … Social identity, uses of social media, and the mourning process among fans: The case of Michael Jackson. Celebrity Studies, 5(3): 275–290. Feasey, R. 2008. Reading heat: The meanings and pleasures of star fashions and celebrity gossip. Continuum: Journal of Media & Cultural Studies, 22(5): 687–699. Geertz, C. 1973. The Interpretation of Cultures: Selected essays. New York: Basic Books. Giles, D. 2000. Illusions of Immortality: A psychology of fame and celebrity. London: Macmillan. 105

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Harris, M. 2013. The hologram of Tupac at Coachella and saints: The value of relics for devotees. Celebrity Studies, 4(2): 238–240. Howell, W., and Parry-Giles, T. 2015. From tweets to movements: Celebrity power and the modern police state. Celebrity Studies, 6(4): 610–612. Howells, R. 2011. Celebrities, saints and sinners:  The photograph as holy relic. Celebrity Studies, 2(2): 112–130. Johnson, B. 1963. On church and sect. American Sociological Review, 28: 539–549. Lambek, M., and Strathern, A. (eds) 1998. Bodies and Persons: Comparative perspectives from Africa and Melanesia. New York: Cambridge Univ. Press. Lofton, K. 2006. The preacher paradigm:  Biographical promotions and the modern-made evangelist. Religion and American Culture: A journal of interpretation, 16(1): 95–123. Lopez, D. 1998. Belief. In Mark Taylor (ed.), Critical Terms for Religious Studies (pp. 21–35). Chicago:  Univ. of Chicago Press. Maltby, J., Houran, J., Lange, R., Ashe, D., and McCutcheon, L.E. 2002. Thou shalt worship no other gods — unless they are celebrities: The relationship between celebrity worship and religious orientation. Personality and Individual Differences, 32: 1157–1172. McCutcheon, L.E., Lange, R., and Houran, J. 2002. Conceptualization and measurement of celebrity worship. British Journal of Psychology, 93(1): 67–87. McCutcheon, L.E., Lowinger, R.,Wong, M., and Jenkins,W. 2013. Celebrity worship and religion revisited. Implicit Religion, 16(3): 319–328. McHugh, K. 2014. Of agency and embodiment:  Angelina Jolie’s autographic transformation. Celebrity Studies, 5(1–2): 5–19. Meyer, B., and Moors, A.-L. (eds) 2005. Religion, Media and the Public Sphere. Bloomington:  Indiana Univ. Press. Natale, S. 2013. Spiritual stars: Religion and celebrity in the careers of spiritualist mediums. Celebrity Studies, 4(1): 94–96. Nolan, S. 2009. Film, Lacan and the Subject of Religion:  A psychoanalytic approach to religious film analysis. London: Continuum. Rakow, K. 2015. Religious branding and the quest to meet consumer needs—Joel Osteen’s ‘message of hope’. In J. Stievermann, P. Goff and D. Junker (eds), Religion and the Marketplace in the United States – New perspectives and new findings (pp. 215–239). Oxford: Oxford Univ. Press. Rojek, C. 2006. Celebrity and religion. In P.D. Marshall (ed.), The Celebrity Culture Reader (pp. 389–417). New York: Routledge. Spiro, M.E. 1966. Religion, problems of definition and explanation. In M.E. Banton (ed.), Anthropological Approaches to the Study of Religion (pp. 85–126). London: Tavistock. Toennies, F., Simmel, G., Troeltsch, E., and Weber, M. 1973. Max Weber on church, sect, and mysticism. Sociological Analysis, 34(2): 140–149. Van Den Bulck, H., and Claessens, N. 2013. Guess who Tiger is having sex with now? Celebrity sex and the framing of the moral high ground. Celebrity Studies, 4(1): 46–57. Ward, P. 2011. Gods Behaving Badly: Media, religion, and celebrity culture. Waco, TX: Baylor Univ. Press.

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Part II

The Culture of Celebrity

7 The death of celebrity Global grief, manufactured mourning Anthony Elliott

“In the last hundred years”, wrote Leo Braudy (1986), “the nature of fame has changed more decisively and more quickly than it has for the previous two thousand.Visual media became the standard-bearers of international recognition, giving art, religion, and politics shapes they never had before” (p. 584). What are the social and political dimensions of fame and celebrity? How does celebrity impact self-identity and social relations? What personal and institutional dynamics underlie the role of celebrity in conditions of advanced modernity? In particular, what does the death of celebrity – the erasure of fame – tell us about the dynamics of society and culture? This chapter examines the intricate connections between celebrity, mortality and immortality, and specifically the phenomenon of the ‘death of celebrity’. My central concern is neither an exhaustive analysis of processes of self-constitution in the age of celebrity nor a systematic treatment of key issues and debates about the politics of celebrity, although both of these topics are touched on throughout. Instead I focus on the way in which mediated symbolic materials function as objects of identification in the framing and perpetuation of daily life and the fabrication of identity. My focus here is on the social drama surrounding celebrity death, and in particular what the death of a celebrity tells us about mass culture and its powers to attract, inflect, recast, displace, and transform our personal and political self-understandings. As an entry point into the topic of celebrity deaths, this chapter will concentrate on a casestudy. My case-study is the ex-Beatle, John Lennon – or, more precisely, cultural rememberings of Lennon. From the emergence of Beatlemania in the early 1960s to the time of his tragic murder in 1980, Lennon is a highly relevant figure – a very public hero – for examining how our general culture uses celebrities to understand, and reflexively incorporate, conflicting ideologies that seek to contain, repress, or transform societal configurations of personhood, desire, sexuality, and culture.

Major claims and developments, and key contributions of theoretical perspectives for the critique of celebrity and fandom In one form or another, most individuals in contemporary societies establish relations of intimacy with non-present or distant others. Actors and actresses, pop stars and politicians, news readers, and talk show hosts are, to varying levels, incorporated into subjective self-understandings as 109

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well as routine aspects of everyday social interaction. Indeed, celebrity has been analysed as a central structuring point for self-constitution, and as a phenomenon that shapes narratives of the self and of interaction with others (Lewis 1992; McCann 1988). “As visual and verbal communication wraps and rewraps itself around the world”, wrote Braudy (1986), “and the rapid dissemination of information implies the creation of an international culture, the ideal of twentieth-century fame has become characterized by an effort to yoke even more firmly than before previously opposed elements of visual, theatrical fame (historically set in civic and political life) with spiritual, intangible fame (with its roots in the Christian conception of the audience not of this world)” (p. 555). In Braudy’s view, modernity has unleashed “a democratization of fame”. According to the social and political theorist John B. Thompson (1995), celebrity is part of a broader communicative process that he calls “mediated quasi-interaction”. As Thompson puts this, “mediated quasi-interaction is stretched across space and time, it makes possible a form of intimacy with others who do not share one’s own spatial-temporal locale; in other words, it makes possible what has aptly been called ‘intimacy at a distance’ ” (1995: 219). The intimacy at a distance of quasi-mediated interaction plays a core role in the constitution and reproduction of the self, self-identity, and subjectivity; indeed, it can be regarded as part and parcel of the expansion of social reflexivity that late modernity amplifies and radicalizes (Beck 1991, 1996; Giddens 1990, 1991, 1994). In this view, individuals reflexively draw on mediated symbolic forms – such as images of celebrity – in order to fashion their day-to-day lives, their conceptions of their own selves, understandings of others, and their broader relation to the social and political world. The reflexive organization of media communication becomes routinely internalized and acted on by lay individuals in the course of their own biographical self-framings. As Thompson (1995) writes of the interconnection between mediated quasiinteraction and reflexivity: It is precisely because the individual is able reflexively to incorporate mediated symbolic materials into the process of self-formation that these materials can become an end in themselves, symbolic constructs around which the individual begins to organize his or her life and sense of self. Hence the absorption of the self in mediated quasi-interaction is not a phenomenon which is qualitatively different from the reflexive organization of the self: it is a version of it, extended to the point where mediated symbolic materials are not merely a resource for the self but its central preoccupation. (pp. 218–219) The role of communication media is viewed by Thompson as providing individual subjects with a continual, complex source of advice about how to live in the world, how to cope with it, and how to understand oneself and others. The development of global communication networks intensifies this process and drastically alters our daily experience of time and space in the transactions we make with mediated symbolic forms. But as Thompson also hints, reliance on symbolic mediated forms can also turn into dependency, the kind of dependency whereby people become strongly emotionally attached to mediated quasi-interaction for a sense of ontological security and personal identity. Thompson calls this the “paradox of reflexivity and dependency” and likens it to the conundrum of Ulrich Beck’s reflexivity thesis around individualization and institutionalization (see Beck 1996). As Thompson (1995) writes: “Just as the increasing availability of media products provides individuals with the symbolic means to distance themselves from the spatial-temporal contexts of their daily lives and to construct life-projects which incorporate reflexively the mediated images and ideas they 110

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receive, so too individuals become increasingly dependent – in respect of their self-formation and what one might loosely call the life of the imagination – on complex systems for the production and transmission of mediated symbolic forms, systems over which most individuals have relatively little control” (p. 215). But what, we might ask, is the exact cost to “the life of the imagination” of the sort of increasing cultural standardization that manifests itself in a highly technologized society? What is the cost of increasing channels of mass-mediated representation with systems of content delivery that are often homogeneous? Is the answer, as postmodernists such as Baudrillard (1983) have argued, simply the “hyper-reality” of the media itself? Or is the diffusion of mediated symbolic forms connected to the reproduction of social life and the exercise of political power in more nuanced and insidious ways? As many commentators have stressed, social theorists need to recognize the influence of ambivalence in the cultural reception of new technologies and rapid globalization of media cultures (see e.g. Stevenson 1995; Elliott 2016). This means, with respect to conceptualizing celebrity, new information technologies both sustain and transform local, regional, national, and transnational cultural figurations and identities. Against those postmodern political theorists who fancifully imagine that celebrity is little more than a textual practice of irony, however, the global flows of information that frame the field of celebrity and its reception affect and limit the conscious capabilities of human subjects (Elliott 2016; Stevenson 1995: 178–179). This limiting of the human subject, either individual or collective, needs to be understood in terms of both institutional dynamics (economics, globalization, the nation-state) and symbolic forms (psychic interiority, cultural locations, linguistic positionings). The task of a theoretically reflective social and political analysis of celebrity, we argue, is to place the phenomenon within the context of societies, cultures, and polities of the global economy. A possible misunderstanding about celebrity as it interconnects with social and political contexts should be clarified at this point. To argue that the social identifications that human subjects make with (and against) celebrities is part and parcel of an increasing self-fashioning and self-construction in the late modern world is not to argue that this is an exclusive means for the sorting of relations of identity and difference. Clearly, that would be absurd. There are an endless variety of forms of social interaction, such as those facilitated in the familial and educational realms, that play a prime role in the ongoing process of socialization. But to underscore the increasing importance of celebrity to processes of self-formation, selfconstruction, and self-reflexivity is, certainly, to grasp the fundamental political importance of new information and digital technologies to individuals today, and in particular the role of media industries in disseminating sociosymbolic forms within networks of communicational exchange worldwide. At this point, let us note some of the key political dimensions governing celebrity and its reception at the level of the societal and cultural fields.These dimensions, we argue, are important for understanding celebrity at both the personal and institutional levels. Though no doubt more can be found, these core dimensions include: 1. Celebrity should be analysed as a political phenomenon that involves certain institutional and communicational means of media diffusion and technological engagement – or what Thrift calls the ‘technological unconscious’. Celebrity is part and parcel of the development of media industries and digital technologies, and is of prime significance in the transactions among communication networks, informational systems, social media, and the globalization of digital technologies. 111

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2. The globalizing impact of communication systems, social media and digital technologies radicalizes the impact of celebrity, primarily in terms of ‘despatialized simultaneity’ (see Nowotny 1994)  – that is, the decoupling of time and space through mediated communication. For example, the global diffusion of celebrity images today involves instantaneous and simultaneous access to gathered information about the lives of others, information that human subjects who are spatially widely separated from one another can experience through telecommunication. 3. Celebrity is a central structuring point in self and social identification, performing as it does an increasingly important role in self-framings, self-imaginings, self-revisions, and selfreflection. At the same time, celebrity can have worryingly negative consequences for selfunderstanding, interpersonal relations, and culture and politics more generally. Contemporary technological developments, and particularly the globalizing of celebrity, can undermine sources of ontological security, the sense of personal identity as well as the capacity for critical self-reflection. 4. The interplay of individualization and institutionalization identified in the quasi-mediated field of celebrity needs to be placed in the context of a general social and political theory of globalization.This is necessary to comprehend both the facilitating and limiting characteristics that celebrity unleashes. In this chapter, the institutional forms of modernity affecting celebrity are those of the sequestration of symbolic experience – specifically, the denial of death. In a more comprehensive social and political theory of celebrity, attention should be devoted to forms of economic power (commercial enterprises, commodification, reification), political power (public policy, institutions governing media laws), and psychological processes (motivational behavior, unconscious sources of tension, self and self-identity). In the remainder of this chapter the discussion now shifts gears and I shall focus on the death of the ex-Beatle John Lennon. My discussion is framed not so much from the perspective of the constitution of fame, but more particularly from the cultural crisis surrounding death – the question, that is, of the mourning of celebrity and its broader social and political consequences.

Case study: John Lennon and cultural mournings of the ex-Beatle In what follows, I shall draw from my previous writings on the ex-Beatle John Lennon in particular, and from my writings on celebrity culture more generally. My book about the ex-Beatle, The Mourning of John Lennon, was published in the late 1990s, just as the field of celebrity studies was really taking off on both sides of the Atlantic, and indeed the book became a central reference point for the psycho-social critique of celebrity in some versions of celebrity studies (see Sandvoss 2005). My writings about celebrity culture more generally date from the 2010s, where in Reinvention and Identity Troubles I sought to connect the rise of new individualisms to the cult of celebrity in various guises. In the remainder of this chapter, I shall concentrate specifically on cultural rememberings of Lennon, and the dislocations and traumas which ensued when one of the most beloved celebrities of the twentieth century was violently murdered, and of the ensuing violence done to the mystique of the Beatles as a result. But right at the outset, it is worth underscoring that it is not only cultural rememberings of Lennon which failed to keep the Fab Four fabulous. Lennon, of course, did this himself. “One had to completely humiliate oneself ”, commented Lennon in his infamous Rolling Stone interview, “to be what the Beatles were, and that’s what I resent”. Lennon’s disarming honesty always threatened to bring undone the Mop Top image, and there can be little doubt that he went the furthest in dismantling the shared history of the group. Pot, acid, girls, the band’s racism towards Yoko Ono, his abhorrence 112

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of McCartney’s easy-listening tunes: Lennon spoke candidly on all these issues during his own lifetime. But it is cultural remembering, rather than Lennon’s own, with which I am principally concerned here.

Mourning Lennon Various political commentators have attempted to understand celebrity as a transaction between media production and cultural consumption (Braudy 1986; Lewis 1992; McCann 1988). But rarely have analysts sought to place the phenomenon of celebrity in the frame of social and political theory more generally. In what follows, I attempt to remedy this neglect in a modest fashion by developing an analysis of celebrity through reference to contemporary social and political theory. In particular, I  examine reactions to the death of mega-celebrity John Lennon as both inspired and warped by the institutional dynamics of modernity. Because of space limitations, I concentrate specifically on one institutional influence in the “sequestration of experience” (Giddens 1991: 144–180) permeating the field of celebrity and its reception – namely, the denial of death. My approach involves a depth psychological hermeneutics (Gadamer 1975; Ricoeur 1981; for an analysis of how depth hermeneutics applies to media culture, see Thompson 1990). By drawing on social-theoretic conceptualizations of the denial of death in modernity, I attempt to uncover and contrast different latent political meanings of Lennon’s death. Since his death in 1980 at the age of 40, John Lennon has become strangely representative of loss in our culture – an object of mourning, of fantasy, of intense feelings of hope and dread. Lennon is for many people a figure of idealization: the creator and leader of the most successful pop group of the century, the Beatles. He is also championed as poet and musician, avant-garde artist, political radical, and world peace activist (Coleman 1984; Norman 1981;Wiener 1984). In other places and contexts, though, Lennon excites a more negative evaluation: a fraud or phony, a man who claimed to speak for peace but who was often violent and hateful toward others and himself (Goldman 1987). In this view, Lennon is revealed as angry, self-destructive, and depressed, all of which fuse to damage (and perhaps even destroy) the idolized picture of the former Beatle. Above all, it seems that Lennon confronts us with too much:  it is as if he won’t fit into the usual categories by which people make sense of celebrities and stars; it is as if Lennon himself troubles our culture and the assumptions that inform our social practice. At once idealized and denigrated, Lennon demonstrates the ambivalence of cultural production in the late twentieth century – in particular, that of the difficulty of making evaluations of the positive and negative with any degree of certainty. In the case of Lennon, awareness of this cultural ambivalence is especially painful. This is not simply because of the push and pull of conflictive images of Lennon’s celebrity status, nor because of the immense difficulty of holding in mind that Lennon both created and reflected complex, contradictory aesthetic dimensions of our general culture. Rather, the cultural ambivalence surrounding Lennon is painful because it embodies most powerfully the violence through which modem society constitutes and perpetuates itself. One of the most striking things about Lennon’s death was the way that, despite endless media information about the shooting, it remained incomprehensible, inconceivable, as if cut off from cultural self-knowing. Nowhere was this made clearer than at Roosevelt Hospital in New York City, where Lennon’s death was announced to the world on 8 December 1980. Dr. Stephan Lynn, director of the emergency service at the hospital, addressed the media; yet the opening of the press interview threatened to turn into a kind of comic drama, such was the level of anxiety. Reporters were unable to spell Dr. Lynn’s name, and asked for it to be repeated half a dozen 113

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times.Trying to read his statement, Dr. Lynn began by saying “John Lennon”, but then fell silent, unable to speak. At this point, it was intuitively understood, the news was dire.Visibly shaken he tried again, this time saying: John Lennon was brought to the emergency room of the Roosevelt, the St. Luke’s-Roosevelt Hospital, this evening, shortly before 11 p.m. He was dead on arrival. Extensive resuscitative efforts were made, but in spite of transfusions and many procedures, he could not be resuscitated. … He had multiple gunshot wounds in his chest, in his left arm and in his back. There were seven wounds in his body. I don’t know exactly how many bullets there were. There was a significant injury of the major vessels inside the chest, which caused a massive amount of blood loss, which probably resulted in his death. I’m certain that he was dead at the moment that the first shots hit his body. (Flippo 1982: 200). Even the certitude of medical knowledge, however, could not limit the shock, disturbance, pain, and suffering engendered by this news. Reporters, floundering, could only ask further questions about Lennon’s shooting. Significantly, the media maintained a strong focus on the bloody details of Lennon’s death, and of the arrest of his murderer, Mark David Chapman. Smashed glasses, blood streaming from the mouth and chest, contorted face: these were the images with which the press traded. In all of this, it is as if the media were trying to get some understanding of the tragic irony that Lennon, who contributed so much to the advancement of world peace, should himself become a victim of violence. News of John Lennon’s death shocked fans and critics alike. The shock was profound. Seemingly secure distinctions between the real world and the world of illusion, between meaning and nonmeaning, as well as between sanity and madness, began to blur.The collective conviction of absolute truth and of the meaningfulness of life – of Lennon as somehow remaining true to himself – became troubled, thrown into doubt, questioned. The world’s attachment to Lennon’s sense of humour, his warmth and charm, his arrogance, his creativity, and his imaginative social vision – all of this rounded back upon itself to produce a disturbing sense of violation, suffocation, dread. Lennon was, suddenly, no longer; but his death, and in particular our relation to it, remained a problem. A difficult problem. A problem that would not go away. For those straining to cope, let alone seeking to understand the reasons for Chapman’s murder of Lennon, the world had become seemingly unmanageable. Perhaps not since the assassination of President John F. Kennedy in 1963 had such a profound sense of loss haunted our general culture. One key difference between the assassinations of Lennon and Kennedy is, of course, that the latter was at the height of his career at the time of his death, a career that involved the political management of a nation. Lennon, by contrast, was making a comeback in pop music, seeking to find a new place for himself and for Yoko Ono in the artistic environment of the 1980s. As for a career, Lennon made it abundantly clear that he was returning to music on his own terms; and he also made it clear that he had retained his interest in, and commitment to, other artistic, cultural, and political matters. But it was perhaps Lennon’s authenticity, his very public misgivings and doubts about himself and his work, that made him more available to the world as a figure for identification. And, ultimately, as a figure to be mourned. Scott Spencer (1982) described the sense of intimacy that springs from such authenticity well: Because he allowed us to know him, to love him, John Lennon gave us the chance to share his death, to resume the preparations for our own. Because we were so used to the way he 114

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thought, the habits, the turns, the surprises of his mind, we can enter him as we remember his last moments, to let it be us in the car, pulling up to the curb, opening the door, stepping out, breathing the night. Someone said he was happy that night, and we somehow know what his happiness felt like, and we can imagine ourselves resurgent, electric with energy. (pp. 209–210) Nostalgic idealization? Perhaps, although to some extent Spencer’s comments reflect the painful contradictions implicit in psychic identification. I do not think, however, that these sentiments are simply illusory; they instead capture real emotional dynamics called into play in the mourning of Lennon. The taking in of Lennon’s death, its emotional registration, called for some kind of collective integration – an integration that permitted people to acknowledge and to share the depth of their grief and despair. In the immediate days after Lennon’s shooting, people joined together in mourning throughout the world. A gathering of some 30,000 people joined in prayer and sang “Give Peace a Chance” outside St. George’s Hall on Lime Street in Liverpool. In cities across America, vigils were held to commemorate the life and work of Lennon. In New York’s Central Park, a crowd of more than 100,000 joined together in a minute of silence to remember Lennon. In Toronto, 35,000 people gathered in the snow for a candlelight vigil. Radio stations everywhere played the Beatles and Lennon.The buying of Lennon’s records, from his late 1960s and early 1970s solo records to Double Fantasy, skyrocketed. But, for many people, the need to communicate something of their shock remained. It is estimated, for instance, that more than a quarter of a million letters of sympathy arrived at the Dakota for Ono and 5-year-old Sean Lennon in the months after the shooting. At a more extreme level, there were also several suicides during that time, with Lennon’s death cited as the reason why life had become meaningless. What can be gleaned from all this? For my purposes, one of the core features of the social registration of Lennon’s death is that it is closely linked with the process of “despatialized simultaneity” (Nowotny 1994). The experience of despatialized simultaneity is one involving the decoupling of time and space, such that information and communication originating from distant sources filters into everyday consciousness instantaneously, or virtually so. In this connection, it can be said that the actual distance of Lennon’s death, in geographical, psychological, and political terms, became eclipsed through its mediation in electronic communication. Messages of Lennon’s death transmitted across the world set in motion processes that framed a single “televisual world”, from San Francisco to São Paulo to Sydney. Let me be clear about the implications of this. I am not saying that the globalized communication of Lennon’s death produced “one world” of response. On the contrary, there were many diverse modes of consciousness and culture in the registration of Lennon’s death and in cultural rememberings of Lennon. What is significant, however, is that the despatialized simultaneity that constitutes the globalization of communication is intimately interwoven with the psychological, social, cultural, and political modes of consciousness generated by such media.

Theoretical perspectives and the psychosocial dynamics of celebrity death In the case of Lennon’s murder, a profound sense of collective loss was experienced via the coverage of this news in the media and its global networks. But the reflexive registration of loss provoked by Lennon’s death was a phenomenon also exacerbated by a denial of the existential significance of death in contemporary culture. From this angle, the news of Lennon’s death 115

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is inseparable from the sociosymbolic forms in and through which human subjects construct understandings of themselves, others, and the social world more generally. Accordingly, the individual and collective registration of Lennon’s death became a fundamental psychic problem in terms of a repression of moral questions posed by death. Anthony Giddens, in Modernity and Self-Identity (1991), locates such institutional repression under the banner of “the sequestration of experience”. Giddens explains this as follows: Processes of institutional sequestration appear in various areas. In each case they have the effect of removing basic aspects of life experience, including especially moral crises, from the regularities of day-to-day life established by the abstract systems of modernity.The term “sequestration of experience” refers here to connected processes of concealment which set apart the routines of ordinary life from the following phenomena:  madness; criminality; sickness and death; sexuality; and nature. In some cases such sequestration is directly organizational: this is true of the mental asylum, the prison and the medical hospital. In other instances, sequestration depends on more general characteristics of the internally referential systems of modernity. Broadly speaking, my argument will be that the ontological security which modernity has purchased, on the level of day-to-day routines, depends on an institutional exclusion of social life from fundamental existential issues which raise central moral dilemmas for human beings. (p. 156) How closely is celebrity tied to such sequestration? Considerably, or so I shall suggest. Celebrity at once reproduces the sequestration of which Giddens speaks, through the commodification of art as well as the repressive social logics of the entertainment business, and transgresses this kind of moral and ethical closure, through permitting fans to wonder about other forms of life and types of human experience. To develop this point, we now consider how the denial of death affects personal and political understandings of celebrity. Death can be regarded as a transhistorical point zero in every society: it is a “radical otherness” that haunts human existence. But, as Philippe Aries (1974) has pointed out, modernity has brought with it a new relation to death. In Aries’s view, death was “tame” in premodern times – that is, contact with illness and death was a fairly commonplace feature of everyday experience. In modern times, death becomes increasingly hidden away, shrouded in secrecy, concealed; it is transformed from something “tame” to something “wild”, a wildness that social practice attempts to control and master. Everything connected to illness and death becomes increasingly subject to technical, medical control – including, ultimately, the process of dying itself. The painful contingencies of death are increasingly erased from human awareness in modern times, removed to the expert hands of the medical profession. We seek, in other words, to render death unobtrusive in a world of rational design and social control. But the other side of this emphatic repression is the unpredictable nature of death itself. The drive to master our relation to death is brought low by the ugly underside of biology, of mortality and finitude. Not surprisingly, contact with death and serious illness, when measured against its social repression and colonization, is experienced as devastating. Death, wrote Michel Vovelle (1983), is a “major scandal of the whole of human adventure” (p. 382). The scandal is that death returns to consciousness something of the horror that was meant to be exiled or banished in the act of social design and rational control. Death tears apart our trained capacity for rational calculation and reasoning; or, put more accurately, it functions as the vanishing point of all thinking and knowledge, stripping human selves back to an irreducible core of human impotence. Death appears here as a brake or limit to self-mastery, and it is surely for this reason that our general 116

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psychological reaction to death is one involving painful feelings of guilt, rage, hate, and shame. Death, according to Geoffrey Gorer (1965), “is treated as inherently shameful and abhorrent, so that it can never be discussed or referred to openly, and experience of it tends to be clandestine and accompanied by feelings of guilt and unworthiness” (p. 171). Death is as frightening as it is in contemporary culture because it is “detached” from life, disconnected from the routine continuity of social activities, and because this detachment springs out of a psychological repression of our awareness of human mortality. Indeed, one might say, following the late Freud of Civilization and Its Discontents (1930), that culture is a trade-off of the forces of life and death, of primary narcissism and primary aggressiveness – a trade-off in which men and women exchange a portion of collective self-knowledge for a share of social security. But within a framework of culture bent on security, protection from human experience has become equated with self-preservation itself. In a tragic irony – an irony that Freud saw as both psychologically and historically complex – the more culture is constructed within the imagined splendors of security, the more depleted men and women find themselves in their inner resources for managing the strains and stresses of everyday life. Where individuals are brought face to face with the dislocating effects of experience, as with the death of a loved one, they are likely to experience a sense of failure and humiliation. Such narcissistic injury is not only a natural consequence of the pain of loss; it is also aggravated by the loss of certitude and security that culture is meant to protect against. In sum, then, death reveals the suffering that the pleasures of security are meant to filter out of awareness. The murder of John Lennon stands as a painful reminder of the defensive mould of our culture of security, because Lennon plays a key role in both perpetuating and challenging some of our most cherished cultural ideals. Lennon functions as an ideal figure of both identity and difference: he is identified with a seductive otherness that is felt to be lacking elsewhere; he is inserted into dreams of autonomy and independence that people project into that “beyond” of their own cultural imagining. But it is in relation to the death of Lennon that something like a cultural inversion operates, an inversion of the demand for security. For death, it might be argued, re-individualizes Lennon, tearing his image away from the narrow confines of celebrity. The horrifying scene of his death – of the bullets Chapman shot into Lennon’s arm and back, Lennon’s collapsing in the entrance of the Dakota, his moaning and pain, Ono’s screams for help  – forces open certain ontological and existential questions, as well as reestablishing points of connection between social experience and questions of mortality. It is not simply that Lennon’s violent death avoids that stereotypical media construction of the “dead body” as entertainment (see Paige Baty 1995). On the contrary, the treatment of Lennon’s death in the media was, to some considerable degree, subject to a reificatory logic of both “entertainment” and “news”. But Lennon’s death brings low the proscriptions and prescriptions of the entertainment industry and of the ideology of celebrity; and, from this angle, the problem of our relation to his death unavoidably raises existential concerns. This is a shift from the pleasures of security to the uncertainties of contingency: a deconstruction of Lennon as celebrity, and a reassembly of our understanding of Lennon’s personhood as something more contingent – an understanding that is always eccentric to itself. In a culture that seeks to limit mourning in the name of security, to dwell on death – the pain of the past, but also death’s haunting of the present and future  – is a dangerous matter, and it is one that (more often than not) occasions moral denunciation. Consider, for example, Ono’s album Season of Glass, her first recording after Lennon’s death. The cover sleeve showed Lennon’s blood-covered spectacles, and for this Ono was morally condemned in many sectors of the media. But the accusation of bad taste to which Ono was subjected might, from another angle, be retained as a more troubling question: who and what, exactly, are caught up in this 117

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polluting, degrading logic? Ono, for remembering the death of Lennon? Or might this so-called moral indifference to the integrity of Lennon reveal something about the self-concealment of our social practice itself? Ono reflected on these difficulties: People are offended by the glasses and the blood? The glasses are a tiny part of what happened. If people can’t stomach the glasses, I’m sorry. There was a dead body. There was blood. His whole body was bloody. There was a load of blood all over the floor. That’s the reality. I want people to face up to what happened. He did not commit suicide. He was killed. People are offended by the glasses and the blood? John had to stomach a lot more. (quoted in Coleman 1984: 458) The death of Lennon, Ono seems to be saying, cannot be put at a secure distance from the difficulties of everyday life. For it is death itself that infiltrates the domain of the everyday, structuring the unbearable emotion caused in the very cultural pressure to lead life free from the “disturbance” of death. The truth of Lennon’s death for Ono, by contrast, is something that is always in process; it is a loss borne in mind in the creative activity of remembering, in the active construction of memory. Facing up to the reality of death, of Lennon’s death, involves facing up to the nature of death itself – to the cessation of life, to the pain of the dying body, to that “load of blood all over the floor”. But to consider death meaningfully requires the suspension of pre-established ways of thinking. Death demands, so to speak, a giving way to grief, a toleration of mourning, and a recognition of the painful, disabling effects of shock. This, in turn, requires human contact:  people need to forge emotional connections with others in order to link death to the broader cultural realm. And yet this immersion in emotion, in interpersonal relations, and in the cultural realm demanded by the process of mourning is precisely that which is devalued or diluted by rationalistic ideologies and practices of contemporary culture. Death, and specifically the experience of death, is absented from social and political relations of the cultural field. However, although death itself is absented from daily life, the subject of death becomes increasingly vivid and omnipresent in contemporary culture. Media representations of death, especially violent death, are increasingly available as articles of consumption across the global order: death is transformed into an object of spectacle, it is relayed through new communication technologies, it is constructed and circulated as an object of consumption, knowledge, and desire. Media simulations of death drastically rearrange cultural perceptions of death itself. Graphic representations of the dying in the electronic media reconstitute death as a consumerist object. In this commodified space, “the pornography of death” (to invoke Gorer’s memorable phrase) rules supreme. It is as if death is not only increasingly detached from everyday life (as Aries claimed), but that its horror comes to be “lifted out” from the cultural context in which it occurs. Such lifting out arises in and through the standardized, repetitious presentation of death in the mass media, from television programmes involving street shootings to news images of war; the effects are a fading of the emotional significance of death as well as its reconstruction as something trivial. This trivialization of death lies at the very heart of our cultural difficulty in treating seriously matters such as bereavement and loss. Indeed, the despair trivialization occasions gives rise to a dramatic sense of death as an obscene event in itself. Gorer (1965) wrote of that “pleasurable guilt or guilty pleasure” caused by death in a society that has turned death into something unmentionable. Perhaps it is not so much that death is unmentionable today, but rather that there is a never-ending discourse on trivialized death. Death is “on show” everywhere – it is the spectacle of our information age – and yet it functions as spectacle only to the extent that the proper 118

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distance is maintained.This is the distance of generalization, of repetition, and of objectivity, all of which are crucial to the trivialization of death. Trivialized death is death rationalized. And death rationalized is death cut off from self-experience and self-knowing, a deadening of experience that leaves self and society caught in the realm of pleasurable guilt. It is now possible to see why Ono’s selection of Lennon’s blood-covered glasses for the cover of Season of Glass generated such anxiety:  the image in question  – that peculiarly shocking collision of glasses and blood (and, by implication, the soul and body of Lennon)  – simply brought death too close to home. The objective distance proper to death had been broken. The trained, contemporary urge to locate death as external reference (“the shooting of a superstar”) was thwarted by the Season of Glass photograph. What was raised for consideration, by contrast, was the death of not simply a “great man”, but a living presence (the blood in this sense “breathed life” into Lennon’s death, standing for an interior space, a private realm, which had been violated and destroyed).This raises the thorny issue of violence once again, and in particular the question of the location of violence. Did the Season of Glass photograph, in transgressing that objective distance proper to death, do violence to the memory of Lennon? Or did it simply serve as a painful reminder of the violence of Lennon’s death? Or might it be that in questioning our cultural reactions to Lennon’s murder, Ono touched on that tabooed, obscene fantasy which is nothing less than the guilty pleasure derived from death?

The loss of the ideal: celebrity and its tribulations It may be the case, however, that a more defensive function is kept in check by such political rupturing. For if memory encodes specific cultural modes of negotiating pain, then it would appear that mass-mediated rememberings of Lennon elaborate some sort of psychic bridging of idealization and depression. Whether desire gives rise to culture or vice versa, the relationship in both cases is one in which the function of idealization is essentially a defence against destructive urges, drives, fantasies, ideas, representations. For the psychoanalyst Melanie Klein (1988), high priestess of the Freudian death drive, idealization is itself a means of blocking from awareness those persecutory traits of the bad object or negative experience; awareness is subdued by the logic of expulsion and projection.The importance of Klein’s work for the social-theoretical analysis of celebrity is her emphasis that all reflective thinking undertaken in the depressive position will necessarily lead to a renewed splitting of images and representation.That this splitting will of necessity reactivate paranoid, schizoid processes is fundamental for the critical analysis of the ego achievements of the individual, but it is also of core importance for grasping the psychic dimension of political and ideological representation. This is not simply a matter of saying that psychic dislocation is embedded in all mass-mediated cultural rememberings; that much is certainly true, but it only captures part of the dynamic between self and society. Rather, the interplay of paranoid, schizoid, and depressive modes of thinking is constituted and reproduced within the cultural matrix of mass communications, and from this angle the practice of representation itself is always an interweaving of imaginary and sociosymbolic forms. The unconscious, then, is less a particular affective form or libidinal realm, to which it is all too often displaced in much present-day social theory, than a kind of deeply layered ontological presence of both continuity and disruption in the perpetuation of our cultural discourses, social practices, political institutions, and technologies. Mass-mediated rememberings of Lennon are therefore predicated on tangled and contradictory psychosocial influences  – relayed through technologies of power and knowledge, overdetermined by the repressed political unconscious. To examine the unconscious ideological dimensions of celebrity is therefore to invoke the general and the specific together: modernist 119

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fantasies concerning the mastery of death have a formidable power in contemporary culture, but this does not mean that individual subjects react in uniform or standardized ways to the cultural political order. On the contrary, people are implicated in a mobile assemblage of psychosocial relations, an assemblage in which individuals and collectives develop distinct modes of negotiating desire and object-loss, anxiety, and dread. Alert to some of these psychological and political problems, Fred Fogo offers us in his I Read the News Today (1994) an intriguing catalogue of cultural modes of remembering in and through which people have sought to come to grips with John Lennon’s death. Fogo’s starting point is that the death of Lennon has come to be symbolically equated with “the death of the sixties”. On the symbolic level, this is a death of cultural ideals of love, peace, and understanding, as well as of political dreams for social integration and consensus. But, as Fogo notes, the 1960s was not simply an exploration of the ideal; on the contrary, it was a decade that generated much confusion and anger. Division and dislocation at the personal and political levels also deeply marked the 1960s, as profound political conflict arose around issues of sexuality, the environment, corporate power, and militarism. Lennon stands as a central cultural symbol of the 1960s, according to Fogo, because he reflected the contradictory, change-oriented nature of the times. And it is against this backdrop, he asserts, that people increasingly reach an “understanding” of the significance of the Beatles in a stronger sense: we have developed an intuitive conviction that the very rich aesthetic impulses and codes of the 1960s are deeply embedded and have survived in the Beatles’ music and indeed in Lennon as a cultural symbol. So too, with respect to the framing of our post-Beatle culture, Lennon is central to the reawakening of our sense of political possibility and the excitement that images of utopia can generate. Fogo, rightly in my view, stresses the advantage that is to be obtained by contrasting separational and reintegrative forms of identification in the remembering and mourning of Lennon. Fogo sees separational forms of identification with Lennon operative at the level of a retreat to nostalgia and in expressions of scapegoating. Such moments of nostalgia about Lennon and the past involve an absorption in the counterculture ethos and, in particular, in desires to reconstruct and relive the good memories of former, ideal times. The separational forms of scapegoating involve high levels of anger and seek to “explain” Lennon’s murder in terms of extrinsic, social dimensions; the social marginalization of Mark Chapman and the politicization of gun control are key examples. But in both cases the separational impulse is driven by a sense of shared antagonism: a rigid narrative about the past, and of the importance of Lennon to that past, is subject to endless repetition; and the function of such repetition is to maintain a powerful sense of collective self-affirmation rather than to examine loss in terms of its own emotional dynamics. But this tension or contradiction is not absented from reintegrative forms of remembering Lennon, and indeed the loss of the ideal is reinscribed in negotiating the relations between self and society as part of the process of cultural discovery and learning in this mode. What is lost is lost for good in the reintegrative mode that Fogo (1994) calls “resignation”. As he explains, this “discourse saw the death of the sixties as final. The old values, in this view, were ineffective, the old feelings dead. … [Here] there was nothing left but reintegration. In Lennon’s death, the group finally had dissolved, and hope had been lost” (p. 84). The “achieved” sense of ideological closure evident in separational constructions of the 1960s is missing here. Instead, loss is reacted to as overwhelming and final; it cancels out former selves, pasts, and times, propelling an engagement with the future by necessity. This raises the question of whether loss has been recognized as such, or whether the sense of hopelessness generated in this mode of remembering serves as a form of psychic protection against loss. 120

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Beyond resignation, Fogo (1994) introduces a final mode of cultural remembering: acceptance. In this mode, loss does not equal defeat; rather, it signals creativity and the future as open-ended: … voices of acceptance view generational identity more in the material and historical context of the larger society, not as a manifestation of emotional communion. These voices for incorporation elegize Lennon in three primary ways:  (1) They emphasize Lennon’s post-Beatle life and his personal and artistic progress and development. (2) They consider Lennon’s and Yoko Ono’s relationship, apart from structural roles, as an example of growth, experimentation, and artistic collaboration. In doing this, some also address the issue of sexism in the counterculture. (3) They explicitly criticize the use of Lennon as a symbol for communitas. (p. 92) It does not follow from this, however, that the personal and cultural examination of Lennon equals a working through of loss itself, nor that the psychic dislocation of loss is brought into cultural awareness in the shift toward social reintegration. Fogo’s book is illuminating in several respects because it breaks from the idea that the impact of celebrity from the realm of identification to the dislocation of death simply works upon culture in an ideologically dominant and cohesive form. According to Fogo, social reactions to the death of Lennon are part and parcel of a psychological and cultural balancing act played out as modes of defensive control and reactive adaptation. At the same time, there is much in Fogo’s interpretation that should be resisted. To begin with, the separational and reintegrative modes of cultural remembering are more tangled and contradictory than Fogo seems to admit. His analysis ignores the point that cultural rememberings operate within multiplex, contradictory social formations, and that ultimately people move in and out of various political discourses and spaces as individual subjects. From the perspective I have proposed in this article, there is an internal or psychic fragmentation of the individual subject in the negotiation of cultural rememberings and in dealing with the dynamics of loss. The individual is fragmented first in terms of the radical otherness of the unconscious; this decentering is constituted as other in the imaginary order and as Other in the symbolic register, to invoke Lacan (1977); and the upshot is the construction of a subject in representational terms, which is always punctured and traversed by the force of desire, even though I have argued (against the pronouncements of much contemporary theory) that the energetic signals of desire are of capital importance to the process of critical self-reflection. But, secondly, the individual is also fragmented in terms of its insertion into specific social roles and cultural discourses, and here the weights of discursive practices, gender relations, and political technologies are of key importance.Taken together, this doubled fragmentation suggests that the relation between the individual subject and cultural context is considerably more volatile and turbulent than Fogo’s writings recognize. Although one main area of personal and cultural struggle over Lennon’s death is certainly that of idealization and its difficulty, an excessive concentration on cultural forms (whether signified as the 1960s, the counterculture, or the New Left) limits the grasping of the psychic construction of experience and, particularly, the nature of experience in the making of self and society. What qualifies for this specifically psychoanalytic stress on the dimension of experience is that coordination between personal and social forms of pleasure (or what Freud termed the fulfillment of wishes) and of the scars imprinted on the cultural political order that arise from lost opportunities, moments, possibilities, selves, worlds. How, then, is one to remember the scars of loss at the heart of our personal and cultural worlds that have been inscribed through the murder of Lennon? The raw emotional material of pain is perhaps a 121

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central starting point because it brings into view that which is felt most intensely in the private and public realms, and it underlies the defensive markings of identification in any event. The narcissistic identifications registered in cultural rememberings of Lennon are secured, not only through some guarantee for aesthetic experience, but also as an intuition of authenticity. I have suggested that Lennon represents, among other things, an affirmation of faith, trust, and the true. Idealization? Certainly, or at least this is so to the extent that cultural rememberings of Lennon function as an idealization of a loved object. But what activates this identification is that composition of imaginary recognitions and investments in the authenticity of Lennon as a primary source of meanings, realizations, successes, failures, joys, sorrows, and sufferings. Such psychic elaborations may be correlative to the establishment of a mode of thinking about experience, which, although brittle, permits a self-holding of “separation” and of the representations that accompany it. Put more simply, it is as if there is a kind of cross-tracking in and through which we can link and compare our private and public worlds with the figure of Lennon. This can take any number of forms, from wondering about the delights and perils of fame to probing the hopes and dreads of withdrawing from public life in order to rediscover the self in the context of familial relationships (as Lennon did after the birth of Sean). Whatever the variation, the point is that these imaginary and symbolic constructions are engagements with unimaginably rich alternative worlds, and not simply further elaborations of preestablished cultural rationalizations. I should make it clear that I am not suggesting that the personal element or psychic dimension be privileged over the social and cultural contexts in which life history is located. To do so would simply reinstate the oppositional logic that Fogo deploys, although this time in reverse: of psychic processes fully structuring social life. Against both psychic reductionism and social determinism, Lennon’s death is better approached, I argue, as a complex, contradictory social-historical interweaving of cultural crisis and psychological mourning. Cultural reactions to the murder of Lennon bring the question of crisis into view insofar as the loss of Lennon is represented as a collapse of social meaning, of generational hopes, dreams, and ideals, of the struggle for authentic living. This much of Fogo’s argument, I think, is right. But the actuality of the event, of Lennon’s murder, does not simply “cause” a cultural crisis. Rather, the crisis of meaning surrounding Lennon’s death is a result of specific psychic investments – of identification, idealization, and love – which have their own internal coherence and organization. It is this psychosexual dimension that complicates the story of our cultural reactions to the loss of Lennon, precisely because the field of psychic life is radically imaginary and therefore a realm that transfigures or outstrips the raw materials of cultural life. Cultural imaginings of Lennon, from this angle, affect the furthest reaches of our personal and social lives.

The rise and rise of celebrity death, and future prospects With the expansion of global communication networks and digital technologies today, celebrity has become an increasingly unavoidable as well as problematic phenomenon for the social sciences. By looking at some recent social-theoretical contributions to the study of celebrity and death, I have considered some of the ways in which the interlinking of institutional reflexivity and closure, dynamism and repetition, affect individual and collective engagements with the mediated quasi-interaction of celebrities. In analyzing some aspects of the social drama surrounding the death of John Lennon, I argue that the reflexive monitoring of celebrity at once reproduces and distorts, frames and beclouds, the symbolic fabric of daily political life. 122

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References Aries, P. 1974. Western Attitudes to Death. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins Univ. Press. Baudrillard, J. 1983. Les strategies fatales. Paris: Grasset. Bauman, Z. 1992. Mortality, Immortality and Other Life Strategies. Cambridge: Polity. Bauman, Z. 1996. Postmodernity and its Discontents. Cambridge: Polity. Beck, U. 1991. Risk Society. London: Sage. Beck, U. 1996. The Reinvention of Politics. Cambridge: Polity. Braudy, L. 1986. The Frenzy of Renown. Oxford: Oxford Univ. Press. Castoriadis, C. 1987. The Imaginary Institution of Society. Cambridge: Polity. Castoriadis, C. 1997. The Castoriadis Reader. Oxford: Blackwell. Coleman, R. 1984. John Lennon. London: Warner. Elliott, A. 1996. Subject to Ourselves: Social theory, psychoanalysis and postmodernity. Cambridge: Polity. Elliott, A. 1999. The Mourning of John Lennon. Berkeley, CA: Univ. of California Press. Elliott, A. 2016. Identity Troubles. London: Routledge. Flippo, C. 1982. ‘The word spreads’. In J. Cott and C. Doudna (eds), The Ballad of John and Yoko (pp. 200–203). New York: Rolling Stone Press. Fogo, F. 1994. I Read the News Today:  The social drama of John Lennon’s death. Maryland:  Rowman and Littlefield. Freud, S. 1930. Civilization and its Discontents. London: Hogarth. Gadamer, H.-G. 1975. Truth and Method. London: Sheed and Ward. Giddens, A. 1990. The Consequences of Modernity. Cambridge: Polity. Giddens, A. 1991. Modernity and Self-Identity. Cambridge: Polity. Giddens, A. 1994. Beyond Left and Right. Cambridge: Polity. Goldman, A. 1987. The Lives of John Lennon. New York: Bantam. Gorer, G. 1965. Death, Grief and Mourning in Contemporary Britain. London: Cressant. Klein, M. 1988. Envy and Gratitude and Other Works. London: Virago. Lacan, J. 1977. Ecrits. London: Routledge. Lewis, L. 1992. The Adoring Audience: Fan culture and popular media. London: Routledge. McCann, G. 1988. Marilyn Monroe: The body in the library. Cambridge: Polity. Morley, D., and Robbins, K. 1995. Spaces of Identity. London: Routledge. Norman, P. 1981. Shout! The Beatles in their generation. New York: MJF Books. Nowotny, H. 1994. Time: The modern and postmodern experience. Cambridge: Polity. Paige Baty, S. 1995. American Monroe: The making of a body politic. Berkeley, CA: Univ. of California Press. Ricoeur, P. 1981. Hermeneutics and the Human Sciences. Cambridge: Cambridge Univ. Press. Spencer, S. 1982. Hearing the news. In J. Cott and C. Doudna (eds), The Ballad of John and Yoko (pp. 209–211). New York: Rolling Stone Press. Stevenson, N. 1995. Understanding Media Cultures. London: Sage. Thompson, J. B. 1990. Ideology and Modern Culture. Cambridge: Polity. Thompson, J. B. 1995. The Media and Modernity. Cambridge: Polity. Sandvoss, C. 2005 Fandom: The Mirror of Consumption. Cambridge: Polity. Vovelle, M. 1983. La mort et l’occident: de 1300 a nosjours. Paris: Gallimard. Wiener, J. 1984. Come Together: John Lennon in his time. New York: Random House.

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Introduction At the 2010 meetings of the Society for Cinema and Media Studies I was a panelist alongside Tristan Rogers, a US soap star best known for his on-and-off portrayal of police chief and super spy “Robert Scorpio” on ABC’s General Hospital. A  longtime soaps researcher and fan  – I’ve been watching Hospital since the mid-1970s  – I  was tasked with escorting Rogers from our Los Angeles hotel lobby to the conference room on a separate floor. As I  rounded a corner I saw him sitting in an atrium, sans assistant or publicist or posse of any kind, casually observing lobby traffic. My first thought was “Wow, it’s him!” followed by “Why doesn’t anyone else seem to notice him?” I  spent several minutes watching Rogers watch passersby while none of the passersby watched him in return. It wasn’t a jaded Los Angeles crowd used to celebrities in their midst or a self-conscious academic crowd pretending to not notice (present company excepted). His legendary status among Hospital fans and the general soap fan community notwithstanding, Rogers was simply not “someone” in this context. This brief re-telling represents the larger state of TV soap stardom, at least in the US – famous in one niche market but not in the broader media landscape, the “soap” necessarily preceding the “star” to clarify celebrity in this context, C- or D-list material at best. This general marginalization of soap stars in celebrity culture is paralleled by a paucity of research on soap opera in celebrity scholarship and of celebrity in soap opera scholarship. There has not been a single article on soap stardom published in the flagship journal Celebrity Studies since it launched in 2010, and in my own university’s highly regarded library system a search under the keywords “soap”, “opera”, and “celebrity” pulls up just one book – which I co-edited. Google Scholar generates few additional resources and even outlets specializing in feminist media research – a perspective offering serious attention to the soap opera form and the pleasures it provides TV viewers since the early 1980s – now pay little attention to soaps and none to soap stardom. Feminist Media Studies, for example, has published three articles on soap opera in the past decade, two analyzing New Zealand soaps and one on Brazilian telenovelas. None focus on celebrity. Most scholarly books on TV soaps treat celebrity as a side-note (if at all) and the same is true in reverse for books on celebrity. There are understandable reasons for this in the US context, most notably the fact that the rapid rise of celebrity culture (and corresponding 124

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academic attention to it) coincided with the swift decline of the daytime soap opera form, generating a ships-in-the-night scenario attracting little attention. There are important exceptions to my claim of marginalization, as will be discussed, but overall this chapter represents a writingfrom-the-borders, if you will; a pulling together of disparate scholarly fragments on television, soap opera, and celebrity to situate and interpret soap stars and stardom. Given my research background the discussion is biased toward the US daytime form of the genre but I shift beyond those boundaries in multiple ways. I echo scholars’ concern (e.g. Bennett and Holmes 2010) that the recent expansion of celebrity studies has de-emphasized the specificity of media forms and boundaries – a similar concern in fan studies by the way. Both the medium of television and the genre of soap opera are crucial to understanding the complexities and nuances of celebrity in this context. Soap stars are not “stars” in the film studies tradition and do not always fit neatly into conceptualizations of television “personalities” in the TV studies tradition. Rather, soap stars are famous to particular audiences, in specific contexts (not including most hotel atriums apparently), and in unique ways. Having said that, I note that my interest in this chapter is more in exploring the “soapiness” of TV soap celebrities than in clarifying the meaning of “star” for (or in) soap opera. I will be using the terms “celebrity”, “fame/famous”, and “star/stardom” as generalized concepts throughout (see discussion in Tolson 2015). From the medium’s inception, TV celebrity has been associated with “the generation and selling of audiences to advertisers” (Marshall 1997: 121) and serialized drama was one of the earliest and most successful prototypes of these industry practices, yet soap stardom has evolved in its own distinctive way. I turn below to a discussion of the historical and intellectual development of TV soap opera celebrity.

Soap opera celebrity – origin stories In her comprehensive examination of early television and broadcast stardom in the US, Murray (2005) notes that stardom in the late 1940s and early 1950s was a negotiated enterprise among networks, sponsors, advertising agencies, talent unions, talent agencies, and audiences eager to embrace the new medium (p. 41). Early TV stardom was marked by several core features, including the industry’s preference for talent pilfered from other entertainment industries such as theater rather than cultivating its own (p. xii). It was initially believed that stage comics (Murray’s analytic focus) would be best suited to TV work, and during network television’s earliest years its stars were mostly hosts of variety programs. As early as 1949, however, audiences had grown restless for more diversity than offered by the vaudeo performers and performances that dominated the airwaves. By the mid-1950s the industry shifted out of its transitional early phase and into the process of “standardizing not only many of its production and programming practices but also the forms and functions of its star system” (p. ix). Another core feature of early TV stardom, noted above, was the industry’s commercial mandate. The imperative to connect audiences to corporate sponsors combined with actors’ essential task of selling and merchandising their own personae in the network context shaped TV stardom from its inception in ways dissimilar to film stardom. “Instead of conforming to the more unified aims of a single studio, which sold only movies and related merchandise, the television star was required to advertise a product while also representing the textual and industrial strategies of a television network” (Murray 2005: xi). Early TV stars were expected to embrace their dual roles with equivalent enthusiasm – both the on-screen job of delivering entertainment to viewers and the parallel job of being a salesperson for the networks, sponsors, and advertising agencies (p. 149). A final distinguishing feature of television as compared to film is the relative intimacy, familiarity, and immediacy of the former – like radio, television brought entertainment into 125

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the domestic spaces and everyday lives of its audiences. According to Marshall (1997) and others, this distinction is crucial to the history and development of film vs. TV stardom – specifically the distance of film celebrity versus the familiarity of TV celebrity (p. 122) and/ or the difference between cinematic stars and TV personalities (a topic of ongoing debate; see Bennett 2008). Stars-as-celebrities include those whose fame “rests overwhelmingly on what happens outside the sphere of their work and who [are] famous for having a lifestyle” (Geraughty 2007 [2000]:  99). In contrast, TV personalities might be thought of as “professionals” whose fame “rests on their work in such a way that there is very little sense of a private life and the emphasis is on the seamlessness of the public persona” (p. 99; Geraughty also poses a third category of star-as-performer who showcases or demonstrates skills). While TV-stars-as-professionals were traditionally assumed to include newsreaders, talk show hosts, sports commentators, and so on, they also include actors in fictional narratives that depend on the regular appearance of recognizable characters  – here, the actor is known only by association with the on-screen character he or she plays and is assumed to merge into or be subsumed by that character (p. 99). This notion of the TV-star-as-professional thus encompasses the world of soap opera. The first radio serial was Irna Phillips’s Painted Dreams in 1930 and serials quickly became a popular if denigrated mainstay of that medium. The first TV soap opera on a major network, Today’s Children, debuted in 1949 but the genre’s position in the new medium was not solidified until the profit potential of daytime programming drew the interest of major corporate sponsors such as Proctor & Gamble. By the mid-1950s the primetime/daytime hierarchy long institutionalized in radio was successfully established in television, and soap operas were slowly developed for US daytime TV and eliminated from primetime schedules (Wang 2002: 363). Early radio and TV soap actors were drawn from the theater, as were the critics who reviewed their performances, and only gradually replaced by actors trained specifically for the new medium. Soaps continued to air on both radio and television until 1960, when the last radio serial was cancelled (p. 351). The differently measured high points of TV soap opera in the US were 1969 with 18 different daytime dramas airing, and 1981 with 168,000 minutes of annual daytime soap programming. The recent precipitous decline of the genre has left only four soaps remaining on US network television – two on CBS and one each on NBC and ABC. Most contemporary soap actors fit the star-as-professional model described by Geraughty above, “since their fame depends on particular professional roles” (2007 [2000]: 99) and they can become so strongly identified with the soap genre (p. 101) that it is difficult to find work in other arenas. In most respects, this is a deliberate rather than accidental feature of the genre. The TV soap form evolved from the 1950s through the mid-1990s to deliberately obscure the persons behind the narratives, the creative identities that bring on-screen stories to life. In general, the assembly-line production of US daytime soap opera requires soap writers and directors to aim for authorial anonymity, a seamless style that mutes unique creative voices in the service of character and story continuity and upholds soaps’ longstanding implicit claim that the characters and communities depicted on-screen represent a parallel world to that of the viewers – places and people that could reasonably be visited a town or two away.The consequence for soap celebrity is profound in that with very few exceptions (regularly debated in soap fan magazines) the actors are considered replaceable – they serve the fictional community rather than vice versa. As a result, “individual actors are practically treated as ciphers by the soap opera’s stylistic, spectatorial, and economic structures – the genre’s apparatus” (Butler 1995: 146; emphasis in original). Arguing that soap actors are like film actors before the invention of the star system, Butler joins Fiske (1987) and others in describing myriad ways the US soap industry eclipses possibilities for

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stardom, such as promoting storylines and characters rather than actors and deliberately blurring actor/character identities in promotional materials. Summarizes Butler of the mid-1990s soap landscape: The soap opera viewer has comparatively little contact with actor promotion/publicity. He/she has usually not seen an actor in a role other than the present one; and even if the actor has transferred from another soap opera, the producers do little in advertising or in the storyline to exploit the actor’s previous role/image. (1995: 147) While in many ways this actor/character obfuscation generated the heart of twentieth-century soap opera fandom – the pleasure fans derive from playing with boundaries between real and fictional (see Dyer [1998] for theoretical conceptualization in celebrity studies and Harrington and Bielby [1995] for empirical application in fan studies) – it also limited the possibilities for “real” soap stardom. Much has changed in the past 20 years with the mainstreaming of the internet, the rise of celebrity culture and online digital media, and the decline of the US daytime soap genre along with concomitant changes in soaps’ intertextual capital (all of which will be discussed later in this chapter), but here I briefly sketch the emergence of US soap opera celebrity, such as it is. Drawing on Harrington and Bielby’s (1995) ethnography of the US soap fan community, key historical milestones include: (1) the 1970 publication of the first dedicated soap opera magazine Daytime TV, founded and edited by Paul Denis; (2) the 1976–1979 AFTRA contract, the labor union representing soap actors, which finally required soaps to list cast credits weekly although, as Butler (1995) points out, they ran so quickly as to be nearly indecipherable; (3) the presence of soap actors at fan club luncheons beginning in the late 1970s; (4) the 1981 on-screen wedding of daytime super-couple “Luke and Laura” on General Hospital (ABC), which landed the actors on the cover of Newsweek and People, featured a guest appearance by film legend Elizabeth Taylor and drew the highest Nielsen ratings in US soap history; (5) the 1999 Best Actress Emmy for daytime icon Susan Lucci (All My Children [ABC]) after 19 annual nominations, a 1990 guesthost appearance (rare if not singular for soap actors) on Saturday Night Live (NBC) satirizing her multiple losses, and a national advertising campaign for an artificial sweetener called Sweet One mocking her personal desire to win the award; and (6) the 2000 launch of the basic cable and satellite channel SoapNet, which aired previously cancelled daytime and primetime soaps, same-day repeats of current soaps, and, most importantly for our purposes, original ancillary programming that helped celebrify soap actors and other industry insiders to viewers. In short, TV soap opera celebrity in the US emerged slowly over the past 40 years and in contrast to film or even primetime TV celebrity was marked by a sense of intimacy, familiarity, and knowability in the celebrity-fan relationship – and by a C- or D-list status given the low cultural position of the genre (Harrington and Bielby 1995: 11). Both the intimacy and the low status are products of the medium of television and the type of celebrities it produces, the genre of soap opera and the type of celebrities it produces, and the unique social organization of the US daytime soap fan community. A later section will explore contemporary soap opera celebrity in the US and elsewhere, and the role of intertextuality in both producing and delimiting soap stardom. Below I discuss principal contributions in TV/media studies, soap studies, and celebrity studies that have shaped our understanding of both the potentialities and limitations of soap opera fame.

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Sensitizing literature: key contributions In this section I explore five key contributions to an understanding of soap opera celebrity. Given the writing-from-the-borders approach of this chapter, none of these works are directly “about” soap celebrity. Rather, they examine various aspects of television, audience/fan, and/or celebrity studies that offer central insights into ways to think about and interpret soap stardom. Please note that editorial guidelines prohibit full discussion of all relevant scholarly contributions; rather, my aim is to offer a general contextual framework. First is Ien Ang’s now-classic Watching Dallas (1985), in which letters from Dutch TV viewers describing their interest in the wildly popular US primetime soap opera are analyzed in the larger context of concerns about cultural imperialism and the “Americanization” of European public broadcasting. Writing several years post-publication, Ang says: In showing how Dallas fans were silenced and thus disempowered by a dominant official discourse which categorically rejected such programmes as “bad mass culture”, I had hoped to disarticulate the often assumed conflation between the logic of the commercial and the pleasure of the popular.The aim was to open up the possibility for a less deterministic mode of thinking about these issues […] I imagined my work to be, among other things, a form of cultural critique that aimed at unsettling the prevailing and […] counterproductive views on popular television and its audiences. Of course, the way the book was perceived […] was beyond my control. (1990: 241–242; emphasis in original) The book came to be seen as a major contribution to “active audience studies” or “new audience research” that emphasized qualitative, ethnographically flavored, culturally attuned studies of situated readers, listeners, and viewers and their meaning-making surrounding pop cultural texts. It is also routinely cited for its contributions to feminist media research and to studies of cultural globalization, due to its core interest in culturally situated readings and the then hotly debated cultural imperialism thesis. Less widely discussed is that Dallas was a soap opera, albeit in the primetime version, that had a somewhat muted presence on television from the 1960s to the genre’s resurrection in the late 1970s with Dallas (1978–1991, CBS), Dynasty (1981–1989, ABC), Falcon Crest (1981–1990, CBS), and others. Dallas’s soapiness was noted in industry observation of its massive global appeal, heralding the growing popularity of serial narratives in the global TV distribution market, and in scholarly and pundit concern that the cultural face of America (on television at least) was soap characters living an opulent 1980s lifestyle. “Who shot J.R.?” became a global question – though, and to our purposes, the question wasn’t “Who shot Larry Hagman?” (the actor portraying J.R. Ewing; see Fiske 1987). Larry/J.R. represents the TV personality or professional discussed earlier – a specific type of celebrity but for a global audience of soap viewers. The second core contribution is John Fiske’s (1987) Television Culture, important for soap opera scholars for its chapters exploring gendered television: feminine (soap opera) vs. masculine (action shows). Drawing on prior feminist research, Fiske explores how soaps’ narrative and structural elements resonate with cultural constructions of femininity and the everyday rhythms of (mostly female) viewers’ lives, including soaps’ resistance to narrative closure, emphasis on dialogue and problem-solving, multiple characters and plots, domestic or domesticated settings, and powerful female vs. sensitive male characters. Fiske contrasts soaps to masculinized television narratives represented by shows such as The A-Team (NBC) whose core features include a marginalization of the private sphere and its focus on the personal, relational, and emotional, a focus 128

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on solitary heroes or hero teams, being goal-oriented with an emphasis on product over process and plot- rather than character-driven, and featuring episodic closure. The specific relevance of Fiske’s work to our understanding of soap opera celebrity is his explicit attunement, building on prior research, to soaps’ intertextuality – that is, how fan magazines, in both photographs and text, conflate character and actor in ways that encourage fans to blur lines (or fail to draw lines) between reality and fiction, not as a way to dupe fans but to enhance the pleasures of the genre. Fiske highlights one magazine that “carried an article ‘written’ by the character about the player [actor], which is only carrying to its logical extreme the common practice of having the player talk about his or her character as if it were a real person” (p.  121). Fiske offers an early and powerful analysis of how so-called secondary texts shape readers’ interpretations of both soap opera as television, and of soap opera celebrity. Immodesty aside, a third central contribution to our understanding of soap celebrity is my own collaborative project on the social organization of US soap opera fandom (Harrington and Bielby 1995). Our study was written in the context of prior research that seemed to prioritize fan activities at the expense of fan identities as a route into interpreting pop culture fandom. Through an eclectic methodological approach involving in-depth interviews, surveys, participant observation at soap fan events, textual analysis of soap storylines, and examination of early electronic bulletin board messages, we explored fans’ identities, pleasures, and practices surrounding daytime soap opera. The book is cited in TV studies and soap opera studies, but particularly by fan scholars for its contributions to the second wave of Western fan studies celebrating the communal and potentially resistant practices of fan communities. Less noted is its potential contributions to celebrity studies, though we took the then-unusual step of situating soap fandom in the context of the fan-celebrity relationship. In our book’s introductory pages we referenced prior scholars’ metaphor of the “hunt” to describe casual celebrity watching, wherein fans collect autographs or pictures of celebrities and compare collections with one another. We proposed in contrast a “family reunion” metaphor to describe soap fan events, in which viewers and soap actors have an intimate-yet-distant relationship with one another that both resonates with the TV personality/ professional construct in celebrity studies but is unique to the world of daytime drama: Fan club luncheons, like family reunions, are settings for both creating and maintaining long-term friendships. This intimacy is apparent not only among fans but between fans and actors as well. Fans greet actors like long-lost friends or confidantes, and the physical and emotional intimacy they demonstrate can be a bit startling. These events evoke the feeling so common at family reunions: coming home. (p. 37) Later chapters build on and expand Fiske’s (1987) analysis of the role of intertextuality in producing both soap opera fandom and soap opera celebrity, and propose soaps as a form of transitional object enabling fans to enter and explore boundaries between fantasy and reality, grounding our discussion in literature on psychodynamics rather than celebrity studies. Our next core contribution shifts focus to the celebrity landscapes of Australia and Brazil. In Fame Game (2000), Graeme Turner and his colleagues examine the production of celebrity in Australia given the recent emergence of a distinct Australian celebrity industry. Their research revealed the importance of teen TV soaps as a feeder for the local celebrity system in Australia, based on strong ties between television networks that commission the production, the daily press, and the relentless publicity machine surrounding the genre. Soaps such as Home and Away and Neighbours (both on Seven Network) are long-running and popular among Australian youth, a contrast to contemporary US soaps whose youth market is quickly fading, and the 129

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teen angle shapes both fan and celebrity culture in Australia. The daily press has an “omnivorous appetite” for news about teen soap stars and “these kids can do as many TV Week covers as they’d like” (p.  107). While mid-1980s marketing efforts created actual stars of Neighbours actors, “known as much for their celebrity as for what they did as performers” (p. 52), soap stardom since that time has been much more closely tied to appearances on a soap. While teen soap actors remain heavily exploited by TV networks “aiming to cement their programs into Australian audiences’ daily routines” (p. 48), a central theme of the authors’ discussion is the potentially devastating consequences for teens who mistakenly believe they are real celebrities whose industry presence transcends their soap employment. The authors reference a 1988 documentary which: argued persuasively that unregulated media interest  – something that is now routine for young soap stars  – radically overinvests in these stars as public personalities at the time of their performance in a program but leaves them totally unprepared for the automatic decline in media interest once they leave the cast [….] Once they cease embodying the fictional, there is no point to their celebrity. (pp. 94–95) Soap operas are low-status cultural objects in both Australia and the US but generate nationallevel celebrity in the former and niche celebrity in the latter – both potentially temporary if the actor leaves the soap. The star system in Brazil is also centered on soap opera in the form of telenovelas. Coelho (2005) notes that both fandom and celebrity are understudied in Brazilian social sciences and identifies Globo Television Network (founded in 1965) as the core of the production of fame. Globo is the “center of a communications corporation which includes newspapers, magazines, radio stations, cable TV and internet services” (p.  99). Mobilizing its communication infrastructure and product synergy in comparable ways to that in Australia, Globo produces telenovelas that air six nights per week in primetime for up to six months, can command up to 90% of the national TV audience, and employ actors and actresses that form the core of the Brazilian star system and appear as “special guests at talk shows as well as other variety products, get covered in dozens of specialized celebrity magazines and are often seen in advertising campaigns” (p. 100). Marked neither as a female genre (as in the US) nor as a teen genre (as in Australia), the mainstream popularity of Brazilian novelas generates its own culturally distinct form of celebrity. What both Turner and his colleagues (2000) and Coelho (2005) contribute to an understanding of soap opera celebrity is the key function of the network/marketing/publicity machinery in generating and maintaining a soap star system. The final scholarly contribution to be highlighted in this section is Nick Couldry’s seminal work on the media/ordinary relationship as a site of media power. His book The Place of Media Power (2000) examines “how non-media people interact with media institutions, and how they talk about those interactions” (p. 3). While we might generally assume that “the ‘media world’ is somehow better, more intense, than ‘ordinary life,’ and that ‘media people’ are somehow special” (p. 45), he explores that assumption empirically through practices of media tourism. His focus of interest is the long-running British soap opera Coronation Street (ITV) and the tour of the show’s outdoor spaces offered by Granada Television. British soaps air in primetime and hold higher cultural status than they do in the US or Australia, with soap stars “not known as people of extraordinary achievements, although they are generally recognized as skillful actresses or actors” (Couldry 2000: 103). Couldry’s analysis echoes that of Turner, Bonner and Marshall (2000) and Coelho (2005) in emphasizing the relevance of soap stars to the economies of British cultural production (appearing on talk shows, magazine 130

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covers, newspapers etc.) but his central insight is in the importance of place and ritual to the meanings of celebrity culture. Joining the Granada Studios Tour and walking the actual Street  allows fans to inhabit the boundary (both spatial and liminal) between media and ordinary, between fictional and real. Fans routinely test the illusion of the space, for example by peering through mail slots in doorways, and find bumping into actors on the Street a profoundly unsettling experience: When people talked about an actual or imagined meeting with a member of the Coronation Street cast, they described themselves or others as “freezing”, standing with mouth wide open, eyes staring, not knowing what to say. In other words they acknowledged the extraordinary nature of the contact being made. The extraordinariness lies not in the detailed content of the meeting, but simply the fact of it. (Couldry 2007: 356; emphasis in original) Couldry’s analysis complicates the film star/TV personality binary increasingly questioned by scholars, given that the soap star “is necessarily promoted as both ‘ordinary’ (as character and, to some degree, as person as well) and more than ‘ordinary’ (as ‘media person’)” (p. 103). He also reminds us that the celebrity/real world boundary or media/ordinary boundary can be an actual, tangible, extraordinary space. While this brief review cannot do justice to the many contributions of the works described above, their specific influence on our understanding of soap opera celebrity can be summarized as follows: the soap opera star as global celebrity (Ang 1985), the function of intertextuality in soap opera celebrity (Fiske 1987), celebrity as a central site of soap opera fandom (Harrington and Bielby 1995), the role of soap opera in economies of cultural production (Coelho 2005; Turner et al. 2000), and the power of soap opera to refine the media/ordinary distinction in celebrity studies (Couldry 2000). The next section explores key facets of contemporary soap opera celebrity through the US daytime landscape.

Contemporary soap opera celebrity in the US Soap celebrity in the US context is decidedly C-list or D-list, a reflection of the low cultural status of the genre and concomitant low celebrity value. Soaps hold a paradoxical status in US broadcast history in that they are beloved by millions and highly profitable commercially – they were known as the networks’ cash cow for much of the twentieth century – but have never been widely accepted as works of art. According to Allen (1985:  4), soaps’ popular-but-ridiculed status results from two related factors: (1) its gendered narrative form and viewership, and (2) its never-ending format, which makes it resistant to being interpreted according to established literary protocol. Soap actors and actresses thus hold low celebrity value, a concept defined by Collins (2008) as “a kind of stratified but also fluid intertextual capital that gets constructed in two sites: the cultural products or texts that house celebrity value, and […] what I call celebrity place – the aggregate of media space devoted to celebrity coverage by all facets of the cultural industries” (p. 101; emphasis in original). In general, US soap actors experience low intertextual circulation: The intertextuality of the film star – his/her appearance in promotion, publicity, previous films, previous interviews/reviews – cannot be presumed for the soap opera actor […] the vast majority of soap opera actors rarely establish a public image apart from their characters. (Butler 1995: 148, 150) 131

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There are exceptions to this claim, of course. At the height of the early-1980s “Luke and Laura” craze on General Hospital (ABC), actors Anthony Geary and Genie Francis “may well have been the most widely publicized actors in the history of television soap opera” (p. 148), and Geary’s retirement from the program in summer 2015 was covered throughout the mainstream news and entertainment press, including CNN.com, Entertainment Weekly and The Hollywood Reporter. The most well-known US soap star today is Susan Lucci, who played Erica Kane on ABC’s All My Children for over 40 years and was known nationally for her multiple Daytime Emmy losses and eventual win in 1999. Lucci was also famous for several made-forTV movies and other TV guest appearances, some musical theater work, her 2005 induction onto the Hollywood Walk of Fame, and her ultimately successful transition to primetime including her current role starring on Devious Maids (Lifetime) after Children’s cancellation in 2011. Mostly, however, US soap actors “star” in the daytime press with only occasional forays into mainstream celebrity, such as a sometime-inclusion in People magazine’s “most beautiful people in the world” issue, the recent death of beloved All My Children (ABC) lead actor David Canary, which was featured in multiple mainstream news feeds, or the widely publicized Twitter scandal in which General Hospital (ABC) actress Nancy Grahn sent a disparaging tweet about Viola Davis’s 2015 Emmy win for the primetime smash How to Get Away With Murder (ABC). As mentioned, a celebrity infrastructure first emerged for US soap opera in the 1970s when Daytime TV was founded and edited by Paul Denis. Recalls Al Rosenberg, editor of the magazine in the early 1990s: No market existed at that time for coverage of the daytime industry because daytime performers and producers tended to lead more conventional, private lives. Many were married to professionals and had families. There was no market for coverage of them in other publications because they were not photographed by the industry press. (quoted in Harrington and Bielby 1995: 66) By the late 1970s Daytime TV had numerous competitors, including TV by Day, Daytime TV Stars, TV Dawn to Dusk, Soap Opera World, Soap Box, and Daytime Stars, and the task of the magazines was to align the needs of the industry with the interests of the fans (p. 66), though there was not the same network/production company oversight or ownership of the daytime press as in the Australian and Brazilian contexts discussed above (Coelho 2005; Turner et  al. 2000). Early coverage of soap stars was generally positive, Rosenberg reports, since fans did not want to read negative coverage about either actors or their characters (Harrington and Bielby 1995: 67). In the mid-1990s: A norm of downplaying hard gossip […] prevail[ed] throughout the daytime magazine industry, but it has been reintroduced in limited ways (such as “blind items” reporting negative information about unnamed actors) following the expansion and diversification of the daytime market over the past decade and competition from the tabloids. (Harrington and Bielby 1995: 67) Despite newly emergent competition from tabloids, daytime soaps at that time were still “ghettoized within the entertainment industry by press, agents, casting directors, and producers” (journalist Lorraine Zenka quoted in Harrington and Bielby 1995, p.  83). Today, soap fan magazines continue to operate under a general “reciprocal courtesy not to offend anyone” (Zenka quoted in Harrington and Bielby 1995:  78) but they publish much more 132

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backstage industry news and items critical of actors, narratives, and industry personnel. The mainstreaming of the internet, the migration of fandom online, and the rise of social media have obviously opened up entirely new discourses of soap opera celebrity, as I will discuss later in this chapter. A review of US daytime magazines reveals how soap celebrity is produced and, more intriguingly, how soap celebrity is positioned by the magazines within the larger world of stars and stardom. For a separate research project on world-building on the soaps I reviewed nearly 500 issues of Soap Opera Digest and Soap Opera Weekly published between 1999 and 2010, and identified four celebrity-relevant themes running through the magazines. First are regular “where are they now?” features, explicitly titled as such in a recurring column in Soap Opera Digest and a persistent theme in both magazines. “Where are they now?” discussions cover ex-soap stars in multiple scenarios:  those who left the entertainment world and are happily or not so happily living a “real life” (in many columns the ex-actor expresses a wish to return to daytime television), those who have successfully transitioned to other entertainment realms, and those who are in jail, in rehab, have died, or some other unfortunate outcome. The second theme involves interviews with both soap newbies and soap veterans, the former invariably describing their soap role as a stepping-stone on a destined path to primetime TV or film stardom, the latter inevitably asked a polite version of “how are you still stuck here after so many years?” Explains talent agent Michael Bruno about the fabled stepping-stone assumption: Nine times out of 10, once they get off a show, within the first year they start to inquire about coming back. They see a reality that they didn’t see, or forgot about, before they got a soap. It usually happens that once they’re off and been off , their wings get clipped – and when they come back, they’re here for the long ride. (Bruno 2004: 43) Explains Bruno about the long-haul status of soaps’ veteran actors: The bottom line for veteran actors who have opted to stay in soaps is that it’s work – good, steady work. The long-time daytime actors have found a way to sustain themselves doing what they love in an extremely competitive field, and they don’t take that for granted. They are professional actors, yet they can be at home with their families instead of constantly having to be out on location for six months at a time like film actors. It’s a costly gamble giving up that comfortable life. (p. 43) Veteran soap star Andrea Evans finds the stepping-stone metaphor “annoying and insulting,” pointing out that actors with long, successful careers in daytime “appreciate it and really love their work”. (pp. 41, 42) Most importantly for the genre’s perpetual quest for cultural legitimacy are the third and fourth themes identified in soap magazines: “look who became a [real] star!” features conjoined with “look at the [real] stars who come visit soaps!” stories. The former typically includes lists and brief backstories of ex-soap actors who have moved on to talk-show, primetime, music, and/ or film stardom, including Kelly Ripa, Meg Ryan, Julianne Moore, Alec Baldwin, Lauryn Hill, Anne Heche, Shemar Moore, Lindsay Lohan, Taye Diggs, Kevin Bacon, Kevin Kline, Morgan 133

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Freeman, Ray Liotta, Demi Moore, Brad Pitt, Tom Selleck, Marisa Tomei, John Travolta, and Sigourney Weaver. Ex-soap-now-real-stars continue to matter in the daytime landscape as examples of product quality, mainstream popularity, and (for soap actors) career aspiration. Also regularly reported are occasions when bona fide stars in other mediums appear on soaps, from film stars (Elizabeth Taylor on General Hospital [ABC]) to musicians (Snoop Dogg on One Life to Live [ABC]) to talk show hosts (Joan River on Another World [NBC]) to athletes (NASCAR star Casey Mears on Days of Our Lives [NBC]) to comedians (Carol Burnett on All My Children [ABC]), many of whom are soap fans themselves. Most high-profile in recent years and widely covered throughout the journalistic world was James Franco’s extended guest stint on General Hospital (ABC) in 2009, reportedly part of a so-called renaissance tour he was making of different working experiences in different entertainment and artistic arenas. Hospital’s regular actors were reportedly nervous and excited by Franco’s desire to join the show (he apparently called the network requesting a role), hoping to prove the quality of their own acting and of the daytime landscape overall. Despite ongoing and persistent efforts by daytime journalists to interpret the meaning(s) of soap opera celebrity for the wider public, their efforts are ultimately limited in that soap magazines are read only by soap fans and industry insiders, and former soap actors who have entered other high-profile entertainment realms often fail to reference their daytime experience as their careers develop – those that do are beloved by daytime journalists and fans. As such, the daytime press has been unable to shift the low status of soap stars up the cultural hierarchy. Moreover, given massive transformations in print journalism in recent years, the world of soap intertextuality is itself transforming, with only three print magazines still publishing regularly (Soap Opera Digest, ABC Soaps In Depth, and CBS Soaps In Depth), and online blogs, fan websites, and discourse on social media subsuming the traditional functions of daytime journalists. This trend is related to the overall decline of the genre as a whole in the US, from the high of 18 daytime soaps in 1969 to the four airing today. As the world of US daytime television changes dramatically, so too does the world of soap stardom.

Limitations and scholarly opportunities As mentioned in the opening to this chapter, the biggest limitation in the field of soap opera celebrity scholarship is that it does not fully exist. Soaps’ centrality to the origins and history of television broadcasting ensures that most scholars of TV celebrity offer a treatment of soap opera, but not as the central focus of research. Similarly the low status of the genre in the US and elsewhere ensures that its ranking on the cultural hierarchy – and soap actors’ ranking as well – is a frequent topic of discussion, but again, not the core focus. In countries where soap opera is central to the celebrity system, such as in Brazil and Australia, we find that it is either understudied (as in the former) or an emergent area of research (as in the latter). While soap opera has been crucial to the development of core theories in celebrity studies, most notably in Couldry’s work on media spaces and the media/ordinary divide, that theorization has typically not been “about” soap celebrity. As such, the sub-field’s biggest limitation is its relative absence. My focus in this section is less the limitations, then, than new scholarly opportunities presented to celebrity studies via TV soap opera. First, concerns the loss of fame. Much as media scholars suggest that beginnings are given preference over endings (e.g. the study of TV series pilots vs. finales or the study of becoming-a-fan narratives vs. wandering away from fandom) and institutional scholars observe that theories that account for the rise and acceptance of new organizational forms have been prominent for decades but research on 134

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industry decline meager by comparison, to the extent that scholars have studied fame the focus has been on what it’s like to have it, not lose it (Smalley and McIntosh 2011). In his research on the Australian celebrity system discussed above, Turner and his colleagues recount the bewilderment of teen soap stars who mistakenly believe they are real celebrities and are surprised to “find that in the sixteenth minute, they are not absorbed into the celebrity system; their celebrity currency runs out and they are channeled back into obscurity” (Collins 2008: 89). The rapid decline of soaps in the US, with eight shows leaving the air in the past 15 years, offers research opportunities for scholars interested in: (a) “how the rise and fall of fame affect a person’s sense of self and the various ways that people cope with these changes” (Smalley and McIntosh’s focus of research; 2011:  386); (b)  the duration of fame’s persistence (for example, extant research on “post-object fandom” might be joined by research on “post-object celebrity”); and/or (c) the experience and impact of the loss of what might be termed “networked celebrity”. While TV professionals/personalities are known for the characters they play rather than their independent celebrity selves, the unique structure of open-ended soap operas aired in the US, the UK, Australia, and elsewhere results in actor/ character combinations unfolding over decades with a rich and detailed relationship history crucial to the celebrity construct. For example, the recent retirement of actor Anthony Geary (“Luke”) from General Hospital (ABC) is thus also a disruption of “Luke and Laura” – how is actress Genie Francis (who continues to have a recurring role as “Laura”) affected by this change? How are Laura’s and Genie’s stardom affected by this loss? Most US soap operas hire a stable of 30 to 40 actors; how has their employment status and personal fame been impacted by the rapid decline of the daytime form? In short, loss of fame offers considerable research opportunities to celebrity scholars. A second area of research potential is in cross-contextual experiences of celebrity. There are numerous anecdotal accounts of A-list celebrities in one industry or cultural context forced to “begin at the beginning” when they enter a new entertainment or geographic realm – the lauded actress who releases a debut album (Hailee Stanton), the beloved Mexican TV star forced to audition for bit parts after moving to Hollywood (Salma Hayek), or – as in the opening anecdote to this chapter – the soap legend who goes unnoticed in a hotel lobby (Tristan Rogers). Less frequently studied are the “from C-list to A-list” experiences. Serialized narratives are enduringly popular in the global TV distribution market and can generate new and unexpected experiences of stardom. The Bold & the Beautiful (CBS) is a huge fan favorite in Italy, for example, and a decision to shoot on-location in Portofino in the early 2000s generated an unprecedented level of celebrity for the show’s lead actors, and among a demographic of the Italian public very different from the show’s target market in the US. Given that fame is a process rather than a state of being, how is the overall experience of being famous transformed through such encounters? The contextualized audience research that Ien Ang helped launch with Watching Dallas (1985) has not yet been joined by contextualized celebrity studies, at least not within the parameters introduced here. A third area of research opportunity is the relationship between age, aging, and celebrity. With an ongoing interest in film studies and an emergent interest among fan scholars, given the enduring popularity of bands such as The Rolling Stones and actresses such as Betty White, only recently have TV scholars begun to integrate insights from gerontology (the study of age and aging) and thanatology (the study of death and dying) to better understand what it means to age on-screen, over time, and in high definition. An exploratory study (Harrington and Brothers 2010) examined how veteran US soap opera actors make sense of their own aging process alongside that of their characters’, and how soaps serve as an unexpected cultural resource for negotiating the varied meanings of aging. Open-ended interviews with actors 135

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focused less on specific moments of synchrony between actors’ and characters’ lives – as Fiske (1987) points out, soap actors are always asked how closely their character reflects their private self – than on actors’ experiences of dual life narratives, one real and one fictional, unfolding over time. Actors’ revelations about aging in the public eye suggest new avenues of research. Explains Stephen Schnetzer, who spent 25 years playing Cass Winthrop on three different CBS soap operas: You go through life as this character, as this personality, as you’re aging. I aged twenty-some odd years in front of millions of people who were aging with me […] I think I got out [of soaps] just in time [….] [If] I’m at the gym now and look up at the TV at different friends of mine […] everybody’s looking pretty rough. I mean, we’re all fighting a good fight but time has really had an impact [….] It’s a very vulnerable and unique position to be in because […] you’re putting it right [out] there from day-to-day. Week-to-week. Month-to-month. Year-to-year. (quoted in Harrington and Brothers 2010: 26) Particularly in a TV genre that has the institutional history and narrative opportunity to show flashbacks of actor/character combinations from 5, 10, even 20 years ago, soap actors are routinely challenged to confront their current and former selves, both on- and off-screen, and their relationship with one another over time. I emphasize that my call is for scholars to study TV soap celebrity and aging within the context of contemporary gerontological and thanatological research – the synergy between these academic fields remains under-utilized. Finally, the rise of celebrity activism, with Angelina Jolie the most globally recognized figure, has generated interdisciplinary scholarship exploring the meanings of celebrities as change agents (among other topics) but typically does not include treatment of soap opera. This is perhaps another example of scholarly discourses developing on parallel rather than dialogic tracks. Entertainment-education is a well-developed strand of communication studies defined as “the process of purposely designing and implementing a media message to both entertain and educate, in order to increase audience members’ knowledge about an educational issue, create favorable attitudes, shift social norms, and change overt behavior” (Singhal and Rogers 2004: 5). The purpose of entertainment-education is to help direct social change through influencing people’s awareness and behavior toward socially desirable ends, facilitating conditions for social change at a systemic level, and serving as a social mobilizer or agenda-setter in policy discussions (pp. 5–6). Both radio and TV soap opera have been central to these efforts in various parts of the world beginning in the 1950s, and with demonstrably positive results. In the US, however, “socially responsible” storylines regarding any number of issues – divorce, cancer, sexual orientation, domestic violence – are routinely derided by soap scholars, journalists, and fans alike as violating the entertainment imperative of the genre despite, here too, empirically demonstrable outcomes such as increased calls to crisis hotlines or registrations for health screenings. The role of celebrity in these discussions is largely absent, though Butler (1995) implies shifting terrains of medical authority (real vs. reel) through the playful title of his essay: “I’m not a doctor but I play one on TV”, which was the opening line of an old TV advertisement that featured a well-known soap star. As more and more scholars become interested in the functions of media in social justice-oriented change strategies – with celebrity activism one element of that conversation – the role of soaps and soap actors remains understudied despite decades of engagement with that broadly defined project. What might celebrity scholars, soap opera scholars, and entertainment-education scholars learn from one another in that regard? 136

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Soap star studies today If the section above explores issues that scholars might add to their research agendas (assuming a traditional TV format), this section summarizes ways that soap stardom is being explored in celebrity studies today. As previously mentioned, a convergence of trends in the mid-1990s shaped both the fate of the US daytime TV soap industry and the research interests of celebrity scholars, including the rise of cheaper-to-produce reality and lifestyle programming, the widespread adoption of the internet combined with changing audience tastes toward short-form storytelling, the embracing of social media, and the popularity and visibility of DIY entertainment across multiple formats and platforms – all of which, theoretically at least, open up new forms of celebrity accessible to anyone. Soap scholars have long noted the dissipation of traditional soap opera conventions to other entertainment realms. Whereas among soap scholars the focus has been on the serialization of US primetime TV beginning in the early 1980s and the current golden era of critically acclaimed dramas such as Mad Men (AMC), Rectify (Sundance), and The Good Wife (CBS), celebrity scholars point to the emergence and influence of docusoaps that transform our understandings of soap opera and soap stardom. Docusoaps such as The Hills (MTV) and The Only Way is Essex (ITV2) “impose on real events the conventions of soap opera, including editing techniques of parallel montage, character-focused narrative structure, and basis in a single geographical space and community” (Bignell 2014: 101). In addition, the melodrama long associated with the soap opera genre has been adopted on docusoaps “in order to connect with audiences on the level of emotional realism rather than the realism of observing everyday situations” (2014:  111–112). The focus in docusoaps is less on plot per se than on the reverberations of plot development on interpersonal relationships and personal (character) development, which comes to shape celebrity in particular ways. For example, the lead of The Hills, Lauren Conrad, experienced “a particularly gendered form” of stardom that conjoined key elements of soap opera “with the feminized gossip industry and consumer culture” (Leppert and Wilson 2011: 262–263). The resulting identification that audiences/fans had with Conrad is quite different from the kind daytime TV soaps traditionally foster: Constructing Lauren as the soap opera heroine of her spectacular “real life,” The Hills begets a paradoxical form of female celebrity that carefully holds in tension the ordinary and extraordinary aspects of earlier forms of film and television stardom through a pioneering and tightly controlled reality format marketed towards young women. (p. 273) Whereas traditional TV soap operas rely on viewers developing multiple identifications with a shifting cast of characters, The Hills adopted core soap conventions to emotionally connect viewers with Lauren Conrad’s real-world melodrama (p. 268). The affective engagement is the same but in a new and different format. Extending this argument, scholars suggest that celebrity stories themselves have come to replace traditional TV soap opera narratives – in part because celebrity culture joins soap opera as one of the few sources of such a “massive volume of raw material for audience interpretation” (de Kosnik 2011: 241). Gossip sources such as People, Us Weekly, and perezhilton.com, along with user-generated content such as celebrity-oriented fanfic and fanvids, generate the same pleasures for consumers as earlier forms of women’s texts, including romance novels and TV soaps. As contemporary media fans draw on celebrity gossip to “perform as storytellers for and with each other” (p. 235), the celebrity stories they co-create “might be regarded as the soap operas of the digital era, since they deliver more of the enjoyments traditionally associated with the soap genre 137

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than do most currently airing daytime dramas” (p. 234). Media fans today devote significant time and labor to creating or co-creating their own soap stories online – de Kosnik suggests that the title of the celebrity soap generated via these activities might reasonably be titled “The Lives and Loves of Famous People”, with each individual celebrity “one player in that soap’s enormous ensemble cast” (p. 238). As de Kosnik elaborates: Soap narratives are comprised of gossip, prompt gossip among soap viewers, and suggest to viewers that, somehow, the lives of the actors who portray the gossiping soap characters are themselves leading gossip-worthy lives. Celebrity narratives are the gossip that media fans supply, and celebrity gossip de facto assumes that real actors and singers are at least as interesting and attention-worthy as their fictional personae. (p. 237, emphasis in original) Moreover, when the celebrity gossip consumed and generated online is actually about daytime TV soaps, media fans effectively turn the daytime soap industry into its own soap opera – so rather than traditional TV soap actors being celebrities (as the term “soap stars” implies), both celebrity culture in general and the soap industry in particular have been transformed into texts to be consumed as soaps. A final extension of this research trajectory is the emergent literature on “lifies” most closely associated with journalist and academic Neal Gabler, who claims that: To compare life to a movie is not to say, as the cliché has it, that life imitates art, though surely there is truth to that. Nor is it to say that life has devised its own artistic methods and thus reversed the process – art imitates life – although that also is true [….] Rather it is to say that after decades of public-relations contrivances and media hype, and after decades more of steady pounding by an array of social forces that have alerted each of us personally to the power of performance, life has become art, so that the two are now indistinguishable from each other. (2004: 74). Building on earlier observations that techniques of theater are being deliberately applied to phenomena as far-ranging as politics, religion, education, literature, war, and crime (echoing a similar observation under way in fan studies), transforming them all into “branches of show business, where the overriding objective is getting and satisfying an audience” (p. 74), we might say that rather than media entertainment serving an escapist function, life itself is an entertainment medium. As Gabler puts it, in the contemporary media era “we have finally learned how to escape from life into life” (p. 75). And our lives, perhaps by definition, are soap-opera-ish. As the reality TV genre begins to decline, this latter research focus – celebrity as soap opera or life itself as soap opera – has gained prominence from scholars in multiple academic disciplines, as well as from creative industries and audiences worldwide. As such, soap stardom is rapidly transforming, albeit in new and unexpected forms.

Conclusion We began this chapter with General Hospital (ABC) soap actor Tristan Rogers in a hotel lobby and end with the simple observation that soap stardom exists today in many realms (entertainment and otherwise) besides daytime TV soap opera. Serialized narratives are an ancient form of storytelling, and their shift to broadcast radio and then television beginning in 1930 138

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transformed the experience for those listening/watching them as well as those performing them. If the medium of television gave birth to modern celebrity, as many scholars have argued, then the initial meaning of TV soap stardom was marked in the US by the genre’s early and ultimately unsuccessful bid for cultural legitimacy. In other cultural contexts, as discussed, TV soap celebrity is shaped differently due to audience demographics, location on TV schedules, and core differences in the economies of cultural production among other factors. Given the new landscapes of entertainment and of everyday lived experience, the meanings of soaps and soap stardom have been widely diffused. Much as “soap opera” itself has become a broad cultural reference to capture the emotional, the melodramatic, the hard-to-resolve, and the relationally messy aspects of human experience, so too do soap conventions diffuse into multiple arenas of fan and celebrity culture while remaining a staple on network broadcast television.

References Allen, R.C. 1985. Speaking of Soap Operas. Chapel Hill: Univ. of North Carolina Press. Ang, I. 1985. Watching Dallas: Soap opera and the melodramatic imagination. London: Methuen. Ang, I. 1990. Culture and communication: Towards an ethnographic critique of media consumption in the transnational media system. European Journal of Communication, 5(2): 239–260. Bennett, J., and Holmes, S. 2010. The ‘place” of television in celebrity studies. Celebrity Studies, 1(1): 65–80. Bignell, J. 2014. Realism and reality formats. In L. Oullette (ed.), A Companion to Reality Television (pp. 95–115). Chichester: John Wiley & Sons. Bruno, M. 2004. The long haul. Soap Opera Digest, 29(30): 40–43. Butler, J.G. 1995. ‘I’m not a doctor, but I play one on TV’: Characters, actors, and acting in television soap opera. In R.C.Allen (ed.), To Be Continued: Soap operas around the world (pp. 145–163). London: Routledge. Coelho, M.C. 2005. Experiencing television fandom: Notes on the tension between singularization and massification in Brazil. Westminster Papers in Communication and Culture, 2(2): 97–112. Collins, S. 2008. Making the most out of 15 minutes:  Reality TV’s disposable celebrity. Television & New Media, 9(2): 87–110. Couldry, N. 2000. The Place of Media Power: Pilgrims and witnesses of the media age. London: Routledge. Couldry, N. 2007. Media power: Some hidden dimensions. In S. Redmond and S. Holmes (eds), Stardom and Celebrity: A reader (pp. 353–359). Los Angeles: Sage. De Kosnik, A. 2011. Soaps for tomorrow: Media fans making online drama from celebrity gossip. In S. Ford, A. De Kosnik and C.L. Harrington (eds), The Survival of Soap Opera: Transformations for a new media era (pp. 233–249). Jackson: Univ. Press of Mississippi. Dyer, R. 1998. Stars. London: British Film Institute. Fiske, J. 1987. Television Culture. London: Methuen. Gabler, N. 2004. Life the movie. In H. Bial (ed.), The Performance Studies Reader (pp. 74–75). New York: Routledge. Geraughty, C. 2007 [2000]. Re-examining stardom:  Questions of text, bodies and performance. In S. Redmond and S. Holmes (eds), Stardom and Celebrity: A reader (pp. 98–110). Los Angeles: Sage. Harrington, C.L., and Bielby, D.D. 1995. Soap Fans:  Pursuing pleasure and making meaning in everyday life. Philadelphia, PA: Temple Univ. Press. Harrington, C.L., and Brothers, D. 2010. A life course built for two: Acting, aging, and soap opera. Journal of Aging Studies, 24: 20–29. Leppert, A., and Wilson, J. 2011. Living The Hills life: Lauren Conrad as reality star, soap opera heroine, and brand. In S. Holmes and D. Negra (eds), In the Limelight and Under the Microscope: Forms and functions of female celebrity (pp. 261–279). New York: Continuum. Marshall, P.D. 1997. Celebrity and Power: Fame in contemporary culture. Minneapolis: Univ. of Minnesota Press. Murray, S. 2005. Hitch Your Antenna to the Stars: Early television and broadcast stardom. London: Routledge. Singhal, A., and Rogers, E.M. 2004. The status of entertainment-education worldwide. In A. Singhal, M.J.  Cody, E.M. Rogers and M. Sabido (eds), Entertainment-Education and Social Change (pp. 3–37). Mahwah, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum. Spence, L. 2005. Watching Daytime Soap Operas. Middletown, CT: Wesleyan Univ. Press. 139

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Smalley, K.B., and McIntosh, W.D. 2011. The loss of fame: Psychological implications. The Journal of Popular Culture, 44: 385–397. Tolson, A. 2015. The history of television celebrity: A discursive approach. Celebrity Studies, 6(3): 341–354. Turner, G., Bonner, F., and Marshall, P.D. 2000. Fame Games:  The production of celebrity in Australia. Cambridge: Cambridge Univ. Press. Wang, J.H. 2002. “The case of the radio-active housewife”:  Relocating radio in the age of television. In M. Hilmes and J. Loviglio (eds), Radio Reader:  Essays in the cultural history of radio (pp. 343–366). New York: Routledge.

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9 Celebrity, fans and fandom Nick Stevenson

Late one evening I was sitting at home reading out extracts of Mark E. Smith’s autobiography (who sadly died in 2018) to my partner. While I found his commentary on modern celebrity culture hilarious my partner was less than impressed. I have long been a fan of the Fall (the band with whom Mark E. Smith is the lead singer) and have seen them play live many times over the years. A Fall gig is often an event to meet up with old friends or sometimes to connect with new ones. Not surprisingly then I sprang to Mark E. Smith’s defence. However, as I listened many of her objections that Smith was a drunken bore sounded entirely reasonable. I tried in vain to persuade her of his creativity and importance within British popular culture, but I could tell the arguments were falling on deaf ears. She doesn’t like the music and especially does not like him. A few days later I went into a local record shop and noticed they were playing an old Fall album. I then got into an excited conversation with the young man behind the counter. Yes he was a Fall fan, and he wanted to know how many times I had seen them, which were my favourite recordings, and what did I think of the by now notorious autobiography. We both admitted that if we were ever to meet Smith in person it would probably be an awkward encounter (Smith has a deserved reputation for taking no prisoners when it comes to meeting fans or journalists) and yet there was something about the band that kept drawing us back. It was not even that we liked all the music or that we had always enjoyed watching them live. However, we shared a connection. When I got home later I began to think, well, this is how attachment works: despite the entirely reasonable objections that other people might have that you can’t let go of a figure that you have probably never met and who really means something.Yet there is an aspect of this felt connection that is hard to communicate. I first came across the Fall during the punk scene of the late 1970s and what struck me was not only their uncompromising stance, but also Smith’s use of language. Punk was an interesting period (as we shall see later) because it provided the opportunity for less polished voices to emerge from people who were perceived to be outsiders. In this context Smith embodied the myth of the non-conformist and marginal figure that remains powerful in much popular culture. His open disdain for the music industry, reflections on the repetitive and often cruel nature of working-class life and use of humour gave him a status in my eyes lacking in what I perceive to be more mainstream forms of entertainment. What is significant here is that fandom offers not simply complex forms of identification, but a challenge to more official forms of culture. Part 141

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of Smith’s provocation was to offer different ideas about working-class life that had more colour and vibrancy to accounts I might have read in the press or listened to on the television news. Class was not something that was ever referred to at school and yet we all knew it existed as the education system sought to prepare most of the people I knew for life at the bottom of a rigged and hierarchical social structure. If part of the way that the dominant capitalist culture works is to silence subordinate groups within society and deny them access to their creativity then the Fall (as did punk more generally) offered a form of abrasive resistance.This is significant as I want to argue that fan culture more often than not is about the circulation of subordinate forms of knowledge that are often seen as illegitimate by more dominant forms of education. In other words, fandom can indeed offer an alternative form of education in ways that can impact upon our personal and collective identities. However, in seeking to understand fan cultures we also need to understand broader relationships between culture and society.

Researching fan cultures At the moment these claims might sound rather unsubstantiated. Here I want to describe how cultural studies and sociology have progressively altered their view of fan cultures. To understand this we will need to investigate some of the theoretical complexities evident in the critical debates surrounding fandom and fans. Many will no doubt object that being a fan is simply harmless fun and that I am taking this far too seriously. Alternatively, others will argue that fans are dangerous creatures (as many people have said to me, the word fan is a shortened version of fanatic) and that sensible rational people would be advised to keep away from their sometimes violent or mob-like behaviour. Finally another view of fans is that they are the ultimate consumers and victims of market capitalism. Fans in this reading are easily manipulated to see films, buy the latest releases or purchase other items to keep the wheels of the economic system turning. I shall of course be referring back to all of these viewpoints and would want to argue that there is an element of truth in each of them. However, the main problem is that these perspectives are overly reductive and do not pay enough attention to some of the complexities that I hinted at when I was talking about my own experiences above. The historian E.P. Thompson (1994) argued that the humanities or social sciences have to be prepared to put categories or theories to the test. Indeed often we find that certain modes of explanation with which we are familiar have to be made considerably more complex as we delve into a field. In other words, when coming to a field like fandom where there is already a great deal of popular knowledge on the subject, mostly circulated by the mass media, it is important to make ourselves aware of our pre-understandings. Such a view urges us to move beyond a more positivistic approach where we are compelled to be scientific or neutral in our understandings. As I have already admitted, on questions of fandom this is going to prove to be impossible given that most of us (and I have taught on this subject for many years so know just how deeply some convictions can be held) will already have formed opinions in this respect. Thompson is not expecting us simply to put aside our pre-understandings as this is neither possible nor desirable. We all have to start from somewhere, but he is asking that we get our existing concepts and ‘sit to them loosely, for the time being’ (Thompson 1994: 201). In Thompson’s context as a historian who analysed social change he was concerned that overly economistic explanations would ignore the customs and common sense of the people. This was important as otherwise we were likely to produce objectivist accounts of culture that did not attend to their complexity and historically variable nature. Thompson is seeking to get us to see that while it is true the dominant class control society, it is rare that their power and authority are ever absolute. In this respect, we need to locate our understandings of culture within what he calls the ‘theatre 142

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of control’ (Thompson 1994: 209). In other words, even within a hierarchical class society where the state works within the norms of ruling class or elites there are possibilities for resistance or at least the circulation of knowledge and understandings that however disguised might be seen to promote more critical and less deferential meanings. The problem is that if we remain stuck within our initial paradigms of thinking that we may offer ‘too tidy an explanation’ (Thompson 1994: 215). Thompson is fiercely critical of some Marxist and market-driven approaches that perceived social change through an exclusively economic perspective. For Thompson the norms and complexities of culture also have a crucial role to play, meaning that researchers generally would have to look more closely at the ambivalences of the people’s culture even within the context of a capitalist-driven society.

The value of fan culture The other problem we need to be  aware of at the beginning is that many intellectuals and academics refuse to see popular culture as being worthy of more complex forms of analysis. Andrew Ross (1989) argues that despite the dismissive attitude of some scholars, popular culture often allows relatively subordinate groups access to forms of cultural expression and meaning beyond attempts by the dominant society to police them. Indeed, within cultural domains that are dismissed as trash or as having low cultural value artefacts can be recuperated by marginalised groups as a means of gaining status or of fashioning identities which are sometimes critical of the dominant society. Relatively low-budget subcultures are worthy of study despite the ways in which they are often dismissed by more official canons of cultural orthodoxy. Indeed, whereas many on the Marxist Left and cultural conservatives like to dismiss popular culture as the culture of the market and as offering little of value to people, more generally most studies of contemporary culture seek to question these assumptions as being overly reductive and lacking in complexity. Indeed the argument goes that in dismissing the cultural practices of the people it adds to a sense of disrespect in a society that many already experience as inhospitable and exploitative. However, before we get to these arguments we need to look at some of the first attempts to offer more genuinely critical views of popular culture and fan identity.

Histories of fan culture research Here I want to critically outline some of the different approaches to the study of fans and look at how these have changed historically. This is important to do so that we can appreciate the different contexts within which fan cultures have been understood and how these have changed over time. Further, as I have already explained, if there is no ‘neutral’ way of understanding fans then we need to look at the assumptions made by previous generations of researchers and those who continue to work in this field.

Critical theory, culture and capitalism The work of the Frankfurt School and especially Adorno (1991) has come under heavy fire in more recent debates within cultural studies. Indeed it is true Adorno has few followers and many of the textbooks written in this area quickly dismiss his views. For Adorno the main problem with Marxism was not the same as that of many people in the early part of the twentieth century. Many liberals dismissed Marxism as it seemingly led to a state-dominated totalitarian society where much of everyday life was under the control of a bureaucracy. State-dominated societies were not more emancipated than capitalism as they were centrally 143

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controlled and intolerant of public forms of criticism. Whereas Marxism might have had a point in the late nineteenth century pointing to the exploitation of an impoverished working class, the attempt to realise utopia on earth had ended in catastrophe. Adorno took a different view, denouncing the idea that freedom and individualism could easily exist within the context of a mass culture and capitalism. Instead capitalism promoted the illusion of freedom where the customer is not so much king, but manipulated by the seductions of the advertising industry and a relentless promotional culture. Indeed capitalism had largely invaded the cultural sphere and turned the work of art into a commodity to be bought and sold in the marketplace. This did not so much serve the idea of freedom as the need to standardise and homogenise our shared cultural life. In order to survive artists would have to play the game of how to pre-package their work and sell it to a mass audience. This converted culture into an industry and integrated the production of meaning into the routines of a factory production line. Indeed one of Adorno’s (1991: 87) most provocative arguments was that what ‘pervades as progress in the culture industry, as the incessantly new which it offers up, remains the disguise for an eternal sameness’. In other words, the culture industry keeps the consumer interested by offering the new and different, but if we look beneath the surface much of what is offered is the same. If Hollywood has a hit science fiction movie it is quickly followed by similar products. Behind the glitter and the glamour of celebrity works a centralised capitalist machine seeking to measure audience reaction and improve ratings, all seeking to make a profit. This system works as a de-humanised industry borrowing the air of individuality, while seeking to impose a mind-numbing sameness upon its products. Adorno, despite his many detractors, certainly seems to have a point. If we think of the experience of watching a chat show then most of the guests, beneath the initial glitter of their carefully manufactured uniqueness, are there to promote a particular product whether it is a new film release, recording or concert. In other words, for Adorno the culture of celebrity overwhelmingly has an economic function, thereby reducing art and culture to the profit margin. For example, I recently watched another figure from the punk era, Johnny Rotten (otherwise known as John Lydon), appear on a chat show hosted by Piers Morgan. On Lydon’s web page the next day many of his followers expressed how much they had enjoyed the interview and were looking forward to seeing him play, as he was currently on tour. The interview then had served as a form of publicity promoting Lydon’s latest autobiography, back catalogue of music and of course tickets for the forthcoming live shows. This is especially interesting as Lydon had previously written songs such as ‘Anarchy in the UK’ and ‘God Save the Queen’ in the late 1970s converting him into what many people saw as a threat to the political establishment. Capitalism works by endlessly recycling the past and converting celebrities into commodities that eventually become safe and predictable. During the interview Lydon established a safe distance from the more radical views he had held previously, offering himself as a likeable if relatively uncontroversial star on the show to promote his latest products. Adorno (1991) then was critical of all attempts to administer culture, whether this was through the market or the state. He argued that, instead of being controlled by the market under capitalism or the state under state socialism, a more authentic form of culture ‘involves an irrevocably critical impetus towards the status quo and all institutions thereof ’ (Adorno 1991:  100). The practice of art and culture is undermined through the attempt either to turn it into a commodity or to control, order and rationalise its presentation through more statist forms of administration. The critical function of art emerges precisely through its impractical nature. The more we plan and centralise cultural experience or turn it into a smoothly functioning system delivering products to consumers the more we banish its ability to take us by surprise, make us think or ask more of us than simply being entertained. Indeed such is the illusory nature of freedom under 144

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capitalism that even when it offers ‘free time’ away from the life of economic exploitation this basically fits in with the exploitation of the culture industry. If the culture industry reduces the art work and the artist to a commodity and a consumable celebrity it does so without requiring much in the way of critical engagement by fans. If work is a place of effort and application then in our leisure time we expect to relax and find life easier. As Adorno (1991: 163) argues that if in making ‘music, listening to music, reading with all my attention, these activities are part and parcel of my life; to call them hobbies would make a mockery of them’. What Adorno (1991: 163) is objecting to is less a division between work and other activities, but the way that capitalism makes a ‘razor-sharp division of the two’. Not surprisingly in such a society many people complain about being bored much of the time. Boredom is only banished once we are autonomously engaged in something which has been freely chosen and genuinely captures our imagination. Boredom, however, features under capitalism given both the repetitive and soulless nature of wage labour where many people work long hours in jobs that are dull and repetitious. When people finally do get some leisure time they are fed the easily consumable fast-food of the culture industry which is quickly forgotten and replaced by other products, all in the name of profit. As Adorno (1991: 172) points out, the only criticism that is permitted in such a society is that people are not working hard enough as society is increasingly manipulated and controlled in the interest of capital.

The limits of Adorno’s reflections on fan culture While Adorno’s ideas have in more recent times been subjected to relentless forms of critique I only wish to explore a few ideas in the current context. The first is that Adorno’s (1991) critique of capitalism and the role that celebrity plays within it does, despite its insights, seem to be somewhat reductive. Are there not after all different kinds of celebrities? If many celebrities much of the time play a role within the economic system promoting products then is it not possible for some of this work to also play a more critical role? Adorno was aware of this criticism and sometimes displays an awareness of the complexity of mass culture in his arguments. However, this is not the principal focus of his work. Indeed the second point I wish to make is that Adorno seeks to focus his argument on what the culture system does to us, but pays considerable attention to alternative meanings and practices. These aspects, however, were not entirely absent from other members of the Frankfurt School such as Walter Benjamin. Benjamin (1973) famously argued that capitalism had not produced the entirely administered society imagined by Adorno. Indeed, through new technological inventions like photography, the printing press and film-making it had introduced new emancipatory opportunities. More technological forms of reproduction meant that many of the art works of the past were revered and held in high esteem and could be perceived less through the lens of the sacred and more through profane forms of discernment. If Adorno promoted a ‘theology of art’ this no longer made much sense in an age where the image was endlessly reproducible (Benjamin 1973: 218). The transportation of images through time and space had greatly increased popular participation within cultural life beyond a few gallery-goers or art critics. For Benjamin a critical politics of culture does not emerge through the need to preserve the authenticity of the art work, but through attempts to democratise cultural practice and participation. If in the past artists were seen as elevated and special creatures then in the modern era increasingly anyone could make a film, take a picture or make music as long as they could afford to buy the basic equipment. The technological possibilities for moving beyond a division of labour that only allowed a select few to become artists were of course limited by the broader capitalist division of labour, but also by a new form of fascism that sought to capture the attention of the masses with images of its own 145

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self-destruction through the spectacle of war. For Benjamin then, technology offered emancipatory possibilities to disable the fixed relationship between the author and the wider public. Perhaps today it is easier to catch what Benjamin meant than it was at the time. In the age of the Internet, technology through blog sites, fan pages, Facebook and YouTube offers literally masses of people the possibility of sharing their music, writing and images with an audience. There are then new creative possibilities offered by technological change that we should not simply dismiss through more cynical accounts that prioritise their economic function. Benjamin then is seeking to offer a more dialectical account than Adorno’s, offering a greater appreciation of the cultural complexities of contemporary cultural experience. However, does Benjamin in seeking to critique the idea that culture is entirely controlled by capitalism end up in a form of technological determinism? Just because technology offers the possibility of becoming an author will this mean that people will make use of this? Here we could argue that fans passing on material on Facebook are simply sharing information at the click of a button and there is little that is meaningful or creative about this act.Yet we could equally point to the construction of fan fiction and fan websites as evidence of more popular forms of creativity that are mostly not produced for profit but for the pleasure of fellow fans. Benjamin remains important not simply for the way he challenged some of Adorno’s cultural pessimism, but for the ways in which he began to explore more popular forms of creativity even within the context of capitalist domination.

British cultural studies and subcultural identities If the work of Adorno and Benjamin has had relatively little impact on the study of contemporary fan culture they remain an important part of the story. Many have felt that the disdain for mass culture on the part of intellectuals like Adorno made it difficult for later generations of scholars to investigate the fan experience. If mass culture is simply the expression of the logic of capitalism then why would we wish to explore the activity of fans? Here many cultural critics have suggested that complex fan identities are dismissed by being understood as cultural dupes of capitalism. However, within Britain in the late 1950s and 1960s there was a new generation of cultural scholars who sought to take perhaps a more nuanced view of the lives of people who engaged with mass cultural products. Here I want to look at the work of Richard Hoggart and how some of the reactions to his seminal text paved the way for the study of fan culture. Richard Hoggart (1957) wrote his influential book in a different historical and intellectual cultural context to the reflections of Adorno and Benjamin. If Adorno was seeking to rethink Marxism in the context of a capitalist society where the prospects for revolutionary change seemed distant and where capitalism had progressively commodified areas of life like culture that had previously had some autonomy, Hoggart’s concerns were different. Hoggart wrote in the context of a post-war society where the welfare state and social democracy had for the time stabilised some of the crisis tendencies of capitalism, leaving the Left to debate the consequences of living within an affluent society. The welfare society had not been built upon prosperity for all as class was still a large part of the fabric of everyday life. During this period there had been a huge expansion in more popular forms of literacy, from comic books to newspapers and from television serials to detective novels. What made Hoggart’s work different from that of the Frankfurt School was his more overtly autobiographic style of writing and his rich appreciation of the world of everyday experience. In this respect, if Adorno was attentive to the complexity of works of art, Hoggart was a keen observer of the ambiguities and traditions of ordinary life. In this respect, Hoggart was particularly attentive to the shared understandings that shaped working-class life, which was largely experienced as a world of ‘us’ versus ‘them’. Hoggart’s narrative was caught up with a working-class culture based upon collective rituals such as singing 146

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in pubs as opposed to a new and mostly commercial culture that was taking root. In this respect, Hoggart mourns the loss of working-class collectivism and fears its replacement by a world of material improvement and crass commercialism. If at this point Hoggart reproduces some of the cultural disdain of the Frankfurt School, he is careful to observe that this culture is not simply imposed upon the working class. Instead Hoggart’s account suggests that the cheap pleasures of the market engage working-class people because they seem to offer an escape from the world of more official forms of culture where they are simply left to feel inferior. The problem is that the new world of cultural egalitarianism where one person’s pleasures are as good as another’s simply cancels more critical forms of judgement. The market introduces a kind of democracy based upon pluralism and relativism that displaces critique. Hoggart’s text remains important for the way that it sought to attach our understandings to more lived and ordinary contexts. His account remains significant as he decisively opened the door to more anthropological understandings which explored personal feelings and attachments.

Richard Hoggart and the subcultural question. According to Dick Hebdige (1979), Hoggart’s writing displays a strong bias towards more literary forms of inquiry. This was evident as Hoggart’s exploration of popular culture sought to make a distinction between good and bad culture. Instead of doing this Hebdige argues for a new wave of cultural analysis that argues that society is organised in terms of dominant or hegemonic discourses and other more displaced or subcultural forms of understanding. In other words, Hoggart’s analysis had either marginalised or to some extent displaced the emergence of new cultural meanings that had developed through the impact of rock-and-roll culture. More celebratory accounts of the youth cultures of the 1960s had been written before Hebdige’s own.The jazz musician George Melly (1970) argued that it was the relative classlessness of the pop culture of the 1960s that had appealed to people. While it is true that much pop culture was organised and controlled in the interests of profit it had at the same time been built on an important principle of ‘the right of the under-privileged young to express themselves’ (Melly 1970: 38). What becomes significant about the 1960s is the closing of the divide between art and popular culture. If Adorno and to some extent Hoggart had sought to maintain this distinction, mostly ruling that commercial popular culture and common pleasures could only be seen as a degraded form of art, these distinctions were no longer as valid as they had been in the past. The merging of art and pop was to give a later generation of critics the possibility of seeking to take more popular forms of experience seriously. Hebdige (1979) argued that style was an important domain of contested meaning. In this respect, subcultures were an attempt to make meaning often in the face of more dominant codes and understandings. There was a history of alternative subcultural meanings from Teddy boys to punks and from rude boys to Rastafarians that had made themselves commonly available to young people during the relative affluence of the post-war society. Subcultures had sought to make cultural space for a number of young people (mostly working class, blacks, gays and women) who had found themselves marginalised by the dominant culture. Here Hebdige seeks to take seriously the creativity evident within street styles, music and language to save it from the critical distaste of critics such as Hoggart and Adorno. If subcultures regularly sought to make a space for otherness and difference then the dominant culture had two main ways of responding.The first was through attempts to reduce a sense of otherness to sameness. The other strategy is to turn subcultures into the exotic where they are classified as beyond the boundaries of common decency and needing to be heavily policed. This is indeed how much of the popular press had dealt with the punk movement during the 147

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1970s. Fan culture emerges at this point as a potential threat to the established cultural order, needing either overt or more subtle forms of policing. These and other accounts help produce an understanding of the fan as both active and discerning. In this understanding fans are not so much duped by mass culture as they are creatively utilising everyday objects to invent new styles, sounds and images, positioning themselves in opposition to the dominant culture. However, as Valerie Walkerdine (1997) argues, such views tend to offer quite a romantic view of how subcultures operate in the context of an oppressive society. Walkerdine notes that most of the accounts of fans and subcultures tend to describe the cultural patterns of working-class life. However, often missing from these descriptions are places where they are not resistant perhaps in the work-place or within broader family structures. Hence a picture is built up of a constantly rebellious group of people actively resisting the dominant norms of society. Further, those who are not ‘actively’ resistant can be seen somewhat dismissively either as ‘straights’ or as conformist dupes. Here Walkerdine is uncovering a complex history of projections onto working-class people as an Other. The working-class are seen as either progressive and resistant or submissive and reactionary. Instead we need to locate subcultures and fan activity in more ambivalent frames of reference beyond the search for resistance. Fans of popular culture need to be located in multiple and contradictory positions and seen less through more simplistic understandings of activity and passivity. Often missing from romanticised accounts of resistance is what it is like trying to survive within a class system that views you as being deficient in one way or another.Walkerdine then poses a number of questions that lead us back to Hoggart’s book, dismissed perhaps too quickly by later generations of cultural studies. As Walkerdine suggests, it is too simplistic to view fans through the resistance paradigm. If we do then perhaps more difficult questions will become displaced within the narrative. Hoggart’s (1957) work remains interesting in this respect as his text offers a complex understanding of some of the internally difficult feelings raised through his writing. Hoggart was writing about a working-class community he had been born into and yet through education he had changed his class position to become a university lecturer. For Hoggart this gave him a sense not only of being inadequate (of not really fitting into the middle class) but also of finding it difficult to relate to people of his own class. His account then captures some of his own more ambivalent feelings while at times being too quick to dismiss some of the experiences of the young people he was observing. Walkerdine (1997) similarly suggests that, beyond more mainstream accounts of class mobility and aspiration, social mobility is often accompanied by a sense of guilt and shame while other people remain trapped. In other words, if cultural studies mostly dismissed the style of critique offered by figures like Adorno, it has sometimes come close to neglecting to analyse some of the more oppressive features we might associate with capitalism. Notably these more difficult and troublesome feelings are often missing from some studies of fan cultures. We would be advised to bear these questions in mind when in the next section we explore some of the more celebratory accounts of fandom.

Cultural studies and cultural populism Much of the work developed by cultural studies sought to correct some of the narratives that could be associated with the pessimistic Marxism of the Frankfurt School. A key work in this respect was the contribution of Stuart Hall (1981), who sought to reconfigure more critical understandings of popular culture through a series of interventions. Hall sought to go beyond more limited appreciations of popular culture by arguing that there was no pure culture of the working class or indeed other oppressed groups that existed outside the frameworks of domination to which we could return. In other words, if you wished to understand the complex 148

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identities of subordinate groups then you would need to appreciate how identities are mixed in with different forms of popular culture. Further, we should be careful not to dismiss all popular culture as fostering a form of false consciousness as this would not appreciate more complex patterns of consumption. Here cultural theorists would need to explore forms of identification while simultaneously understanding how ideology can make certain meanings stick and appreciate the relations of power which determine the different ways in which culture is produced and consumed. Especially significant here was the distinction that Hall makes between the power blocs that largely organise and control the flow of popular meanings and artefacts and the people who offer complex readings and attachments to different aspects of popular culture. This was a significant intervention as Hall sought to square the circle between critical work that looks at the organisation, control and distribution of culture and other research that investigates different forms of identification and more popular forms of control and cultural production. The distinction between questions of organisation, control and production and the diversity of readings of popular culture offered by the people opened a space to other scholars who were mainly concerned with how the active involvement of fans in popular culture produces resistant meanings. John Fiske (1991) argues that we need to be more careful in our catagorisation of fandom in ways that have been absent from previous studies of popular culture. Firstly, to become a fan is an active and participatory process entirely unlike the act of being turned into a passive consumer by capitalism. In addition fans are different from the so-called more ‘normal’ or everyday audiences through their ability to actively work on and produce new meanings. Finally fans are usually drawn from relatively disempowered groups of people like the working class, women, gays or black people who more closely associate themselves with aspects of commercial culture the dominant culture does not deem worthy of study or interest. Fans by seeking to engage with culture that is often seen as exhibiting a low or degraded form of value are seeking to gain status through other means. In this respect, fans often exhibit in-depth forms of knowledge on subjects that are unlikely to be acknowledged by the educational establishment. Collectors of football programmes, pop magazines or science fiction DVDs often exhibit an enormous amount of knowledge about their subject. However, many who work within more established forms of knowledge often look down on this form of expertise. The search for status evident here is often described by cultural theorists as an attempt to accumulate cultural capital. In this respect, fans can be said to be accumulating subcultural capital within different groups of fans. Similarly Sarah Thornton (1995) argues that the clubbers of the 1990s often discerned differences in terms of venues and music nights in terms of how they related to specific perceptions of the so-called mainstream.The Other in this respect seemed to be places frequented by working-class people who played chart music. These places were ‘understood’ as unsophisticated and exhibiting a herd mentality full of consumers who were undiscerning in their choice of music and fashion. Thornton argues that subcultural or fan activities can be understood as a means of gaining status by establishing alternative hierarchies to the ones that might be said to exist in the wider society. These arguments clearly complicate the picture drawn by Fiske by suggesting that within subcultures themselves there are battles over who gets to be seen as legitimate or otherwise. Hence it is simply too straightforward to see subcultures as a consensual place of resistance.

Henry Jenkins and fandom It is probably the work of Henry Jenkins (1992, 2005) that has done the most to challenge the view that fans should simply be seen as victims of commercial culture. Jenkins (1992) directly 149

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challenges the popular view of the fan as potential psychopaths out of control and a threat to all well-known celebrities. While there are indeed a few dangerous obsessives who are probably a danger to themselves and society, they are definitely in the minority. Fans are seen as ‘abnormal’ not because they are in any way dangerous, but because they transgress the taken-for-granted understandings of educated forms of taste. In other words, fans give serious attention to cultural artefacts that is usually in ‘educated’ circles reserved for works of literature, historical documents or complex scientific puzzles. What is important here for Jenkins is who has the legitimate power to sanction the taste of others as illegitimate. The power to define legitimate taste is usually concentrated among people who have further degrees and are white, male and middle class. As Jenkins (1992: 23) writes, to ‘speak as a fan is to accept what has been labeled a subordinate position within the cultural hierarchy, to accept an identity constantly belittled or criticized by institutional authorities. Yet it is also to speak from a position of a collective identity, to forge an alliance with a community of others in defense of tastes which, as a result, cannot be read as totally aberrant or idiosyncratic’. Fans then are fully aware of what other people (most of whom have greater status than they do) think of them, but as a way of dealing with negative stereotypes form communities to defend themselves against the hostile gaze of the other. One of the ways in which the fans do this is through shared ideas, images and perspectives in on- and off-line communities. Fans then tend not to be isolated individuals, but communally oriented beings who carve out relatively safe spaces so that they can experiment with other identities and more creative ways of being. In this respect, fans are quite different from people who merely like something or take a more casual approach to popular culture. Jenkins (2005:  251) writes that a person ‘becomes a ‘fan’ not by being a regular viewer of a particular programme but by translating that viewing into some kind of cultural activity, by sharing feelings and thoughts about the programme content with friends and by joining a ‘community’ of fans who share common interests’. Both Jenkins (2005) and Fiske (1991) are keen to argue that fans often engage in alternative textual forms of production, thereby becoming cultural producers themselves. This might involve writing letters, fanzines or alternative blog sites, producing ‘you tube’ clips or other activities. Alternatively many fans like to get together at conventions or conferences where they can meet other fans face to face or possibly meet people more directly involved with their fandom. John Fiske (1991) has helpfully distinguished between three main kinds of cultural productivity in respect of fan culture. These are semiotic productivity, where fans construct alternative meanings and identities, enunciative productivity, whereby these alternative meanings are circulated within a fan community, and textual productivity, when fans actively produce fan literature of their own. Notably, unlike more mainstream understandings of productivity, very little of this activity is seen as a means of making money. For Fiske, consistent with other accounts of fan activity, what is accumulated is alternative forms of status. In other words, by building fascinating collections of artefacts and other aspects of material culture like clippings, pictures, books or recordings fans accumulate material that other people may regard as worthless. Again the importance of the collection lies less in their material value but more as an aid to construct an identity.

Critiques of populist cultural studies Fans, according to the accounts of Fiske and Jenkins, convert mass culture into a genuinely popular culture through their passion and ability to form alternative communities. These accounts then are clearly distinct from those offered by less celebratory forms of analysis. However, there are a number of questions that we might ask. If the first wave of analysis in 150

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respect of the effects of popular culture paid too little attention to the complexity of cultural attachment and forms of identification, then missing here is any broader understanding of the culture industry. Returning to the reflections of E.P. Thompson (1994), if there is a need to take account of the complexities of popular culture then this needs to be done in the context of a broader society where most people are not in positions of power. If we can point to fan cultures as a place of popular participation we should also be aware this is likely to come in short bursts as most people seek to negotiate other perhaps more boring or routine activities over which they have little control. Further, while fan and subcultural research is important in that it sharply departs from some of the more economistic traditions of thinking evident on the Left and the Right, what is not always apparent is the way that admittedly new forms of cultural production directly challenge the dominant society. Both Fiske and Jenkins wish to argue that fans are discerning viewers and can be drawn into popular protests if a favourite television programme is taken off the air, but this does not necessarily strike me as evidence of having much control over your life. Indeed such is the insistence that fans are never passive consumers surely bends the stick too far in a world that is mostly hierarchically organised and controlled. Had the analysis of fans also sought to appreciate the workings of the cultural industry we might have identified attempts to manipulate fans into buying new products. For example, the music industry regularly repackages CDs by adding extra tracks, bonus discs or different art and of course many fans will spot or avoid these tricks, but many will feel seduced by the promise of engaging with their favourite star all over again. What seems to be an issue here is traditions of cultural research that operate through a binary of cultural dupes or resistant producers and consumers. This is not to discount these different traditions of criticism, but it is to argue that the debate needs to develop more complex understandings of popular taste and the relationships that fans form with celebrities and amongst themselves. In the next section I want to explore some other studies of fan culture that offer perhaps less celebratory if no less critical forms of analysis.

Fan cultures in the age of ambivalence The argument that popular culture when ‘poached’ by fans has a critical function is potentially over-stated. Grossberg (1992) has sought to capture the idea that much popular culture is more ambiguous than being positioned as a form of either resistance or containment. For example, rock culture since its arrival in the 1950s and 1960s has had a rebellious image seemingly at odds with the status quo. However, it rarely addresses questions of capitalism, class or power more centrally. The music’s power emerges more by introducing certain emotions and feelings into everyday contexts. For Grossberg (1992: 155) rock is an attempt to escape from the confines of the everyday that it can never finally conquer. Whereas rock music initially emerged during a period of optimism and social change it has since become integrated into the cycles of the dominant consumer culture. Despite the different levels of engagement experienced by fans there is little immediately politically radical going on. Even when rock seeks to articulate more transgressive ideas or radical messages these can easily be enjoyed by more conservative fans. Here Grossberg seeks to question the connection between feeling intensely connected to the celebrities of popular culture and its link to more radical forms of politics. This is not simply a story of rock’s domestication, but an illustration of the extent to which so-called alternative forms of culture simply act as temporary forms of escape within the broader context of an oppressive society. In this respect, rock’s reliance upon the idea of authenticity works through a series of oppositions like corrupted versus resistant and mainstream and alternative, which allow other peoples’ tastes to be dismissed as ‘mere’ entertainment. The privileging then of some identities 151

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over others is often the common culture of fan identities and often leads to the Othering of people in perhaps more marginal positions.

Contemporary fan studies These arguments do not necessarily lead back to the elitist discernment of the early Frankfurt School, but certainly ask questions about the supposed radicalness of popular culture. Similarly David Cavicchi (1998) offers a detailed study of Bruce Springsteen fans that captures much of the political and cultural ambiguity of being and becoming a fan. Cavicchi carefully describes how many of the fans draw upon religious metaphors when describing the process by which they became a Springsteen fan. Fans described their ‘conversion’ to Springsteen not because they believed he was a religious figure, but as a means of describing the intensity of their personal connections to the star. After the journey of becoming a fan has been completed most of the people interviewed by Cavicchi describe periods of exploration involving reading books and magazines, attending concerts and of course listening to his music. However, while Cavicchi describes more communal forms of involvement he is keen to emphasise the solitary nature of the sense of connection with Springsteen. Within this setting most fans connected with Springsteen perceive him to be an ordinary person rather like themselves.The way in which they do this was mostly experienced through an intense and personal form of connection. Notably, while in the world of celebrity stars are often thought to be people with added or special qualities, more in evidence here was a belief that Springsteen’s ordinariness enables him to stand apart from the star system. His ‘down to earth’ qualities were mentioned by many of the fans and this was authenticated by stories of personal meetings or unexpected encounters experienced by people that they knew. Springsteen’s authenticity then allowed him to stand apart from the manufactured nature of much of contemporary culture, giving him and his music an added appeal. The idea of authenticity was also evident within the Springsteen fan community as there was a great deal of talk about so called ‘fake fans’.These were fans who had not explored Springsteen’s material properly and probably only knew his most popular songs. However, especially amongst younger fans this was seen as a marker of insider and outsider status that was disputed as it was seen as an attempt to exclude them. However, what brought the fans together was an intense interest in Springsteen’s lyrics. For many Springsteen represented an exploration of the dark side of the American dream.This included divorce, unemployment, poverty and a broader system that conspires against many working-class people. Notably Cavicchi’s account manages to avoid some of the pitfalls of subsuming fans into narratives which either bemoan their lack of taste or seek to be enthusiastic about the production of resistant identities. At this point I wish to introduce my own study of the fans of David Bowie (Stevenson 2009). My work had to some extent been inspired by Cavicchi and others. Like Cavicchi I interviewed people who mostly described themselves as life-long fans and often used religious metaphors to describe their sense of connection with Bowie, and I was aware of an ongoing attempt on the part of fans to distinguish real from so-called fake fans. Further, also like Cavicchi (and in opposition to Jenkins and Fiske), some of the fans were involved in what might be called alternative forms of cultural production but many were not. More often following Bowie was something they had done over the years as there was something about the image with which they identified. This was more intense with some people than others, but I especially noticed that it was the men in my study who took what might be described as a ‘serious’ interest in Bowie. This struck me as ironic at the time as our culture often makes the sexist distinction between celebrity-obsessed women and rational and disinterested men. Of course this is not to discount the conversations 152

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I had with women and this observation could easily be a product of the fact that the men found me easier to talk to given I shared their interest and was around the same age as them. However, what I mostly listened to were fans who were enchanted by the power of Bowie’s image (not as a ‘regular guy’) but as someone who had both survived and who was seen despite his obvious material wealth as an outsider. Bowie in this respect was seen as someone who offered a guide as to how to live in a deeply uncertain and troubled world. Many of the people I interviewed described how their divorces and chronic occupational precarity had left them feeling lonely and anxious. If the world of the Internet had enabled people to live more culturally connected lives much of what I listened to explored the backdrop of the fragmentation of communities and how to get by in an increasingly marketised and competitive world. In this context, Bowie’s image perhaps had two main functions. The first was that he offered the image of someone who had successfully navigated intense personal difficulty, that Bowie was someone who dealt positively with change in the context of his own life. This struck me as interesting given that one of Bowie’s most iconic songs is called ‘Changes’. The other role that Bowie played was of someone to identify with over time. Bowie was valued as a star who was still making interesting music and capable of surprising his audience. However, most significant in this respect was that Bowie had lasted whereas other stars had faded away, or were literally stuck in a time warp and no longer credible. This point was often illustrated through reference to other well-known celebrities who were considered to be embarrassing. Bowie then was recognised to have been around since the 1960s and having ‘survived’ in an intensely competitive industry. Despite much of Bowie’s artistic work that sought to destabalise ideas of authenticity given the various characters that he has performed over the years he was largely seen as someone in charge of himself and his destiny. That is, Bowie was his own person and had been unafraid to take risks with his artistic ventures, not all of which (notably Tin Machine) could be considered successful. In other words, despite Bowie’s attempts to subvert ideas of authenticity and turn the conventions of rock into a performance he was seen as a star who was ‘true to himself ’. We should perhaps note that there remains a link between capitalism and culture that had been closed by other accounts. If Adorno was writing during a period of mass production and standardisation, by the time I  conducted my study the economy had changed. Globalisation, post-Fordism, the ending of jobs for life meant that many of the people I  interviewed lived economically uncertain lives. This meant that the achievement of identity was in many respects more difficult. If the economy increasingly treats people as mobile economic units this means that people have to be continually prepared to be uprooted. If the culture industry imposed a comforting sameness on the audience Adorno was concerned that this foreclosed the possibility of more radical forms of expression. Yet it did so under conditions that many modern citizens would not recognise today. A society based upon high levels of employment and the security of the welfare state meant that the predictability of capitalism matched that of the common entertainment culture. However, under the more uncertain conditions of post-modern capitalism there remains a longing for identification and security in a world that is experienced by many as broken and fragmented. It is not surprising that many people look to celebrities to navigate an often violent, fragile and exploitative world. In this respect, fans still look for figures of deep meaning to give their lives a sense of continuity and predictability missing from the economic realm. To maintain a connection with a celebrity over time not only potentially connects you to a supportive community, but also gives the self a sense of security perhaps missing from other areas of your life. In this respect, my study and to some extent that of Cavicchi makes some similar observations to those found within film studies. Jackie Stacey (1994) and Annette Kuhn (2002) have both written important books on the fascination that fans have for film stars. In this 153

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respect both studies are acts of critical memory which move away from the text-centered approach usually associated with film studies to look at the resonance of film and its stars in relation to audiences. Both studies emphasise the ways in which women sought to imitate the looks and styles of the stars on the screen. If some of the aspects of the appearance of stars was considered beyond the scope of the women they often looked for cheaper alternatives. Cinema and images of stars were drawn upon in seeking to refashion the ways in which feminine identity was currently constructed by the host society. In this respect, images of stars were a critical resource utilised by fans. Despite the women’s awareness of the pressures to conform in more mundane contexts the experience of watching a film featuring a favourite star enabled the possibility of escaping more everyday forms of reality. Kuhn (2002) in this respect argues that cinema in the 1930s and 1940s offered a form of cultural magic enabling the women to dream of a world beyond scarcity and ‘making do’ for a more luxurious world. These dreams are in some traditions of critical theory easy to label as wrong. Within more mechanical Marxist terms the women are being seduced and hence trapped into the logic of consumerism. Carolyn Steedman (1986) argues in this respect that the worlds of consumer culture in terms of subordinate groups and classes can indeed have ambiguous effects. This means it is important for critical theory to move away from the idea of class consciousness as a ‘granite-like plot’ (Steedman 1986: 14). Here it is important to deal with questions of difference within commonality by recovering often contradictory and ambiguous stories. Simply labelling consumer culture as bad or as a pleasure that will disappear after the process of emancipation is deeply problematic. Class exclusion undoubtedly promotes envy and fantasies of abundance and this can become translated in ways that are often politically complex. In terms of the audience’s relationships with stars and celebrities it is important to look closely at what is being imagined, not simply assume this is either unusual or wrong.

Back to questions of method and research As Valerie Walkerdine (1997) suggests, this has implications for questions of method within cultural studies and sociology more generally. If the social sciences tend to favour the objective and the measurable then we are encouraged to explore more contradictory realities. In this respect, fan research perhaps needs to do more to explore the relationships between the observer and the observed.While such a view is often treated as narcissistic, sometimes more critical questions can emerge within this space. As Walkerdine (1997) insists, a more contradictory view of the world would ask that we move beyond simplistic assumptions about the experience of certain groups based upon categories like working class or female. Indeed, try as we might it is unlikely that we will be able to prevent lots of different feelings from emerging within the research process. Within my own work cited above I discuss a lingering feeling of depression that often struck me after many of the interviews with Bowie fans. This was clearly connected to a sense that I had that many of the men I interviewed seemed quite lonely and had struggled with relationship breakdown or the collapse of a career. A consideration of these and other features necessarily moves the argument into less predictable frames of reference where researchers begin to more carefully explore their relationship with the people who are being interviewed. In this context either bemoaning the corrosive effects of popular culture or simply celebrating its capacity for resistance or cultural productivity is unlikely to be very helpful. However, this is not to discount ongoing research into questions that can be related to star-images that can often be revealing about wider aspects of culture and society. Stephanie Genz (2015) suggests in this respect that if the dominant neoliberal culture demands that we each turn ourselves into a commodity this can have contradictory effects. Here Genz investigates the way in which Katie Price is both able to 154

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draw upon ideas of authenticity (just being myself) while at the same time treating her body as if it were a plastic and remouldable commodity. Price then emerges as an entrepreneur able to sell a range of products including herself without ever seeming to sell herself out. It is not surprising then in a society like ours, built upon insecurity that many are seeking to both reshape themselves while at the same time insisting upon their own personal authenticity.

Concluding remarks Especially significant within fan research is the domain of fantasy, imagination and the attempt to escape from the grim utilitarian world that is part of the everyday experience of capitalism. The dominance of financial assessment, debt repayments, credit ratings and attempts to measure work or sports performance has converted much of everyday life over to the calculations of the spreadsheet. More recent work on fan cultures by Sean Redmond (2015) has sought to explore celebrity as an expression of the passionate involvement that fans and other people have in their relationships with one another. This clearly opens up questions of sexuality, erotic forms of connection and phantasy. As Elizabeth Cowie (1999) argues, the complexities of the imagination go beyond more economistic criteria, opening up less predictable frames of reference. Fan research in this respect needs to look at the different fantasies that people have about stars and celebrities without being tied to more factual or mundane levels. Many of the fans I came across well understood this feature. A David Bowie fan I interviewed told me an interesting story about winning a chance to meet Bowie in person.Yet on the train down to London he became worried about what this would do to his fandom. What if Bowie failed to live up to his expectations? What if when confronted by the flesh and blood Bowie he actually felt disappointed? At this point the fan in question got off the train and walked up and down the station platform. After a while he got back on the train and met Bowie, whom he described as charming. He then smiled at me as if to say life is full of risks and this was one worth taking. If fantasies are often about what we wish for then what happens if this begins to come true? The pleasures of fandom then come from the ability to live in a world beyond the ordinary for relatively short periods of time. This gives many of the projections fans make onto celebrities an almost utopian quality. The world of everyday reality can be put to one side for a few minutes or maybe for longer periods, realising perhaps we will have to return eventually. This is not mere escapism, but the glimpse of another world. If Adorno looked at the utopian nature of the work of art that worked beyond the instrumental demands of capitalism, we might be able to make similar claims for the projections of much fan culture. This may not always have an especially radical character, but, as every revolutionary has known throughout history, radical change is simply not possible unless the people are capable of dreaming of a world beyond the present. Despite the claim that the world of fandom is about the consolidation of capitalism or indeed cultural productivity I have sought to argue it is more closely connected to the ability to daydream and use our imaginations to construct a diversity of mostly pleasurable scenarios beyond the confines of the present. This may not of course lead to more radical forms of politics as much of the culture of celebrity is based on the idolisation of the lives of the rich and famous, but equally it sometimes offers the seeds of something else beyond an increasingly cruel and competitive world.

References Adorno, T. 1991. The Culture Industry: Selected essays on mass culture. London: Routledge. Benjamin, W. 1973. Illuminations. London: Fontana. Cavicchi, D. 1998. Tramps Like Us: Music and meaning among Springsteen fans. Oxford: Oxford Univ. Press. 155

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Cowie, E. 1999. Fantasia. In J. Evans and S. Hall (eds), Visual Culture. London: Sage. Fiske, J. 1991. The cultural economy of fandom. In L. Lewis (ed.), The Adoring Audience:  Fan culture and popular media. London: Routledge. Grossberg, L. 1992. We Gotta Get Out Of This Place; Popular conservativism and post-modernism. London: Routledge. Genz, S. 2015. My job is me. Feminist Media Studies, 14(4): 545–561. Hall, S. 1981. Notes on deconstructing ‘the popular’. In R. Samuel (ed.), People’s History and Socialist Theory. London: Routledge. Hebdige, D. 1979. Subculture: The meaning of style. London: Methuen. Hoggart, R. 1957. The Uses of Literacy. London: Chatto and Windus. Jenkins, H. 1992. Textual Poachers: Television fans and participatory culture. London: Routledge. Jenkins, H. 2005. Star Trek rerun, reread, rewritten:  Fan writing as textual poaching. In R. Guins and O.Z. Cruz (eds), Popular Culture: A reader (pp. 249–262). London: Sage. Kuhn, A. 2002. An Everyday Magic: Cinema and cultural memory. London: I.B. Tauris. Melly, G. 1970. Revolt into Style: The pop arts in Britain. London: Penguin. Redmond, S. 2015. The passion plays of celebrity culture. European Journal of Cultural Studies, 19(3): 1–16. Ross, A. 1989. No Respect: Intellectuals and popular culture. London: Routledge. Stacey, J. 1994. Star Gazing: Hollywood cinema and female spectatorship. London: Routledge. Steedman, C. 1986. Landscape for a Good Woman. London: Virago. Stevenson, N. 2009. Talking to Bowie fans:  Masculinity, ambivalence and cultural citizenship. European Journal of Cultural Studies, 12(1): 79–98. Thompson, E.P. 1994. History and anthropology. Making History: Writings on history and culture (pp. 200– 225). New York: New Press. Thornton, S. 1995. Club Cultures: Music, media and subcultural capital. Cambridge: Polity. Walkerdine,V. 1997. Daddy’s Girl: Young girls and popular culture. Basingstoke: Macmillan.

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10 Celebrity in the social media age Renegotiating the public and the private Anne Jerslev and Mette Mortensen

Introduction A somewhat trivial incident took place on 23 January 2016. American actor Mark Ruffalo lost his phone and wallet on the streets of New York during a snowstorm. Even though he mostly deploys Twitter to advocate political issues such as climate change and civil rights, he turned to this platform for help. “APD out for a cell phone in a wallet case on the streets of NYC in a blizzard. My drivers [sic!] license is in there. Reward and signed pic”, he tweeted to his more than two million followers at 12:17 pm. Fourteen minutes later, at 12:31 pm, an update follows: “Wow, thanks for all the tips and help for my lost phone … really appreciated”. Four minutes later, 12:35 pm, this everyday drama reached a climax, thanks to Ruffalo’s “fan army”:1 “OMG It was just found! That was freaking fast. Thanks for helping me find it!!”, Ruffalo tweeted. A  little less than 3 hours later, at 3:18 pm, Ruffalo posted a snapshot on Twitter of himself hugging two young girls with the accompanying text:  “Thank [sic!] Amenaide and Catherine Brown for finding my Phone and wallet! Thanks Brown family for your decency”.2 This photo was retweeted 1765 times and received 8622 likes within five days (as of 28 January 2016). As promised, the girls received a $100 reward and a signed picture of Ruffalo in character as the superhero Hulk.The story also generated headlines in mainstream media such as The Independent, ABCnews, Huffington Post, The Times of India, US Magazine, Daily News, Vanity Fair, as well as numerous entertainment and celebrity sites and blogs. The mundane story of Ruffalo’s lost and found property points to how the emergence of social media over the past decade has transformed celebrity culture. Celebrities communicating directly with fans on Twitter and other social network sites have fostered a burgeoning tendency of ‘digital intimacy’ (Thompson 2008, cited in Marwick and boyd 2011a: 118) in celebrity culture. Social media enable persistent communication with fans and followers and the continuous nurturing of what Kitzmann (2003) terms “public privacy”. Celebrities on social media thus reconfigure the borderline between the private and the public, which has been one of the crucial fields of tension in celebrity culture. In his famous discussion of stars as private selves and public performances, Richard Dyer in 1986 emphasized that particular texts such as filmic close-ups, biographies or an underlying sincerity to acting purvey the impression of an authentic, private self.

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Today, three decades later, celebrities themselves perform their private lives and selves in abundance on social media. This chapter concerns the transformations to celebrity culture brought about by social media. In this article, social media are understood as many-to-many communication platforms for easy uploading and sharing as well as direct, immediate and informal interaction in comments,“likes”, etc.We include in the notion of “social media” blogs, sites like YouTube for uploading and sharing user-generated content as well as social network sites like Twitter, Facebook and Instagram. In terms of the other main concept of this chapter, “celebrity”, we agree with Marwick and boyd (2011b) that celebrity should be understood rather as a practice, than an essential ‘being’: We conceptualize celebrity as an organic and ever-changing performative practice rather than a set of intrinsic personal characteristics or external labels. This practice involves ongoing maintenance of a fan basis, performed intimacy, authenticity and access, and construction of a consumable persona. (Marwick and boyd 2011b: 140; original emphasis) The performative practice of celebrity to a still larger degree takes place through social media, which alters the continuous production and reproduction of what counts as a sellable celebrity self, including manifestations of intimacy, authenticity and access. To set a historical and theoretical framework for understanding the ongoing changes caused by social media, the first section of this chapter outlines how celebrity culture is characterized by continuous negotiation of the borderlines between private and public. From a media historical perspective, we argue that this negotiation has undergone two significant changes, prompted by major developments in media technologies by the emergence of, respectively, television and social media. The discussion of these changes is underpinned theoretically by Erving Goffman’s (1990 [1959]) micro-sociological understanding of the construction of self in everyday communication through the use of theatrical metaphors  – the differences and interrelations between onstage and backstage – and by his successor Joshua Meyrowitz’s (1985) concept ‘middle region’. The following section introduces how connectedness and establishing a phatic sense of presence are essential for celebrities communicating on social media. In the third section, we present the cross-media principle underlying how celebrities and their entourage disseminate content across different social media platforms as well as how content from their social media profiles spreads to entertainment news etc. The fourth section reflects on how authenticity and branding seem to go effortlessly hand-in-hand in selfies and other selfrepresentations taken and/or distributed by celebrities. In the fifth section, we investigate how social media have also expanded the field of celebrity by paving the way for “micro celebrities” (Marwick 2013; Senft 2013; among others), the mundane practices of self-branding and what danah boyd (2014) calls “the celebritization of everyday life”. Finally, the conclusion reflects on the way in which the communicative practices by celebrities on social media might be understood as a polished and performed privacy, yet another manifestation of middle region as defined by Meyrowitz.

The private and the public: principal contributions The confines between private and public have been and still are essential to celebrity culture’s “ever-changing performative practice”, as Marwick and boyd put it (2011b:  140). However, social media have radically moved the balance, which might be highlighted by returning to Dyer, who claimed in 1986 that: 158

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The private/public, individual/society dichotomy can be embodied by stars in various ways, the emphasis can fall at either end of the spectrum, although it more usually falls at the private, authentic, sincere end. Mostly too there is a sense of ‘really’ in play – people/stars are really themselves in private or perhaps in public but at any rate somewhere. (Dyer 1986: 15) At the same time as celebrities themselves provide increased access to behind-the-scenes privacy on social media, it is evident that the sense of ‘really’, to which Dyer alludes, depends on the successful performance of the private celebrity self. Communication on social network sites diminishes the distance between celebrities and fans in space and time by giving the impression of direct and immediate interaction. This ongoing construction of ‘right here’ and ‘right now’ in contemporary celebrity practices on social media is further accentuated by “performance of backstage access to the famous” (Marwick and boyd 2011b: 144). As a consequence of and also contributing to a visual networked culture that, as Sean Redmond points out, “leaves little if any space for them [celebrities] to be off-screen, out of print, switched off ” (2006: 34), fans gain insight into formerly inaccessible areas of celebrities’ private lives on Twitter, Instagram, Facebook and other social media platforms. From the perspective of communicative practices (if not from the perspective of hierarchy and power), they seem to meet fans on close and (almost) equal level. However, this balancing out of what used to be a battlefield between celebrities, the media and fans over the right to privacy is not unparalleled in media history. Marshall eloquently coins the increased access to celebrities prompted by social media as a “narrowing” of the “gap” (2010: 640). Yet, one could also call this the second narrowing of the gap in the negotiation of the private and the public in the history of celebrity culture. Even if this negotiation has resulted in photographs and stories in fan magazines and newspaper columns about stars’ private lives from the beginning of the twentieth century, the first profound change appeared with the rise of television, which left a decisive mark on the relation between the public and the private both in culture and in everyday life.Television involved growing exposure and performance of the private lives of celebrities, which have, of course, only been intensified with the second shift occurring with social media. Thus, these important shifts coincident with broader cultural changes towards exposure of the private can roughly be summarized in two stages, each caused by a significant development in communication media and technologies. Needless to say, other cultural, social and political developments have also contributed significantly to the changing norms for how and to which extent the private is put on public display, but they go beyond the scope of the current chapter. On a theoretical level, Erving Goffman and his successor Joshua Meyrowitz, have studied respectively the boundaries between the public and the private and the disintegration of these boundaries. To set the frame for these significant changes in celebrity culture, it is valuable to turn to Goffman’s (1990 [1959]) influential micro-sociological theorization of the presentation of self in everyday communication in a culture defined by strict demarcations between private and public spaces, along with Meyrowitz’s (1985) discussion of the consequences for culture and social life of television’s making still more societal spaces – private as well as public – available to audiences. Goffman influentially used the term performance to characterize social interaction. In Goffman’s dramaturgical approach to the organization of social systems, identity is always situationally and relationally displayed on the basic social stages of life: the formal, public, front region and the more informal, private, backstage, on which front-stage behaviour is rehearsed. Goffman emphasizes that even though backstage spaces are private, they do not equal the 159

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private home. Backstage areas are not commonly accessible, but perceptually closed off from front region spaces: Since the vital secrets of a show are visible backstage and since performers behave out of character while there, it is natural to expect that the passage from the front region to the back region will be kept closed to members of the audience or that the entire back region will be kept hidden from them. (Goffman 1990 [1959]: 116) Meyrowitz (1985) builds on Goffman’s work in his equally influential book No Sense of Place.The Impact of Electronic Media on Social Behavior. From a media sociological perspective, Meyrowitz argues that electronic media and, in particular, television, break down the spatial demarcation between front region and backstage and allow for the two spaces and their related information systems to blend more easily. Television provided “increased access to the inside by outsiders and increased access to the outside by insiders” (1985: 143). No Sense of Place concerns the way electronic media have brought about “new sets of social performances” (Meyrowitz 1985:  39) and new scenes. Taking a media historical view upon the changed access to the private in culture and everyday life, Meyrowitz argues that television profoundly alters access to information about private life and everyday performances and, hence, alters the very structure of the social dramaturgy outlined by Goffman. Expanding on Goffman’s two social scenes, Meyrowitz suggests the term middle region in order to describe a new social arena, which blends the two previously separate information flows and partly reveals performances formerly hidden from public viewing. The new middle region scene is at once fuelled by and adapts to the presence of an audience. At the same time, new and more isolated backstage and front region behaviours arise, which Meyrowitz names “deep backstage” and “forefront”. Thus, writing in 1985, Meyrowitz reminded us that, “performers adapt as much as possible to the presence of the audience, but continue to hide whatever can still be hidden” (1985: 47). The importance of Goffman’s book was his dramaturgical approach to social life and his situationist delineation of the ways reality is performed through interaction:  how identity is socially constructed and relationally performed.With regard to celebrity studies, the significance of Goffmann’s work lies in how he delineates one of the crucial dimensions in the construction of celebrity, as pointed out by Dyer (1986) among others, the relationship between the public and the private. Even though Goffman’s book is concerned with exchanges between discrete, demarcated communicative spaces, he actually wrote it at a point in time when the barriers between the public and the private realm had slowly started to crumble. Goffman’s studies do not concern media, but rather a social system of context-dependent interaction between shifting groups of performers and audiences. Meyrowitz, on the other hand, tries to grasp the social life of mediated selves. He outlines how television and other media have created more fluid boundaries in the system theorized by Goffman. Meyrowitz’s book is not about celebrity culture and obviously not about social media either. Even so, his suggestion that media development constructs new scenes and new conditions for playing out and interpreting the public and the private is still useful. Middle region is not merely a symbolic naming of an important ‘stage’ for mediated interaction, this term also conceptualizes a particular performance of the private in contemporary media culture. This dramaturgical model suggests that mediated privacy should always be thought of as performed privacy. Due to its public-private indeterminacy, middle region behaviour, for example when performed on television, is continuously up for debate. As 160

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such, middle region may also underpin theoretically the current discussion of authenticity and privacy in relation to social media.

Historical development In celebrity culture, the public performance of the private lives of stars goes back to the early fan magazines in the 1920s and 1930s. Glamorously clad and exuding an air of the exceptional matching their impeccable, luxurious mansions, stars were depicted while posing in the extraordinary surroundings, or, despite the formal dress, engaging in everyday tasks like baking, if this equalled the role in a recent film promoted by the article. With the advent of television and the resulting changes in visual culture as a whole, this display of the extraordinary, private space of celebrities started to vanish. Distance to fans and audiences diminished. Television established a new arena for celebrities to perform their private selves, and television personalities (Bennett 2011) cultivated a seemingly closer relationship with fans through performances of ordinariness, authenticity and intimacy. Their private selves and their roles blended to a higher degree than had been the case with film stars (Bennett 2011). However, inspired by the new medium’s construction of celebrity, older media like photography and older genres like celebrity photography followed suit by constructing more private and accessible celebrity selves. This is, for example, evident in photographer Sid Avery’s photos of stars in their private surroundings collected in Hollywood at Home. A Family Album 1950–1965. Avery’s portraits, published in magazines like the Saturday Evening Post and Look, both mirrored and contributed to ongoing changes in celebrity practice. On the one hand, they leaned on the tradition-bound photographic genre of the family portrait on account of the pronounced stylization and artificiality. On the other hand, the construction of the private star in Avery’s photographs was also reflective of the new medium, television. According to Schickel (1990), Avery collaborated with the star to achieve a greater impression of intimacy, instantaneousness and informality. The photographs pictured the stars performing everyday tasks like reading to and playing with their children, and quite a few of his images made an effort to capture the stars (many of whom were also known from television) in more casual postures such as hanging out in an armchair, chatting in the kitchen, changing a diaper or seemingly caught unawares while playing in their backyard. By representing the informality and everyday-ness of celebrity life, Avery’s photographs reminded viewers that “these starry creatures were just folks” (Schickel 1990: 10). The new medium itself and, moreover, advanced broadcast technology comprise an even more pronounced example of television narrowing the gap between stars and their audiences. CBS’s live-series of programmes Person to Person (1953–1961), for example, invited viewers into the homes of celebrities and took a more informal approach to celebrities. Mostly hosted by renowned news anchor Edward R. Murrow, the programmes were live, technically sophisticated and carefully rehearsed, in order to provide a backstage atmosphere. The tone was casual and amiable. Murrow often addressed the celebrity by his or her Christian name and maintained an air of friendly politeness to be expected of a guest invited into the home of an acquaintance. Mise-en-scène was carefully laid out to emphasize closeness, access to a private space and intimacy: each programme started with an introduction to the celebrity by Murrow, and then there was a cut to him sitting in an armchair and looking in on the episode’s celebrity home on a large screen from the New York studio. To each side of the screen were heavy curtains and dark crossbars over the screen to create the illusion of a window, as if Murrow were a neighbour sitting right next to the guest’s house looking out of his own drawing room window. The conversation most often took the viewer on a tour around the celebrity’s home, guided by the owner and prompted by Murrow’s politely curious questions. 161

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Person to Person constitutes an early example of how the new medium of television constructed backstage access to celebrities. This programme offered a hitherto unseen view of celebrity privateness and created a feeling of authenticity and closeness by means of a range of audio-visual and rhetorical strategies. Nevertheless, despite Meyrowitz’s argument that live television is “back region in style” (1985: 111), the meticulously rehearsed liveness exuded a sense of scripted stiffness (cf. also Scannell 2014). The formality of the dress worn by the female celebrities in some segments also made one aware that  – despite the many claims to privateness and informality  – the programme was not, after all, granting backstage access. Notwithstanding the sense of rehearsed privateness, Person to Person carefully orchestrated television’s “ontological” claim to immediacy and a more pronounced sense of access to celebrities. The programme was thus symptomatic of Meyrowitz’s argument that television as a “fast and unobtrusive medium”, holds a “back region bias” (1985: 109). Person to Person’s carefully arranged televisual performance of back region bias to visits in celebrities’ private homes, however, never achieved a sense of authenticity in the here-and-now. The complicated technological live broadcast made television more obtrusive than unobtrusive, and, in general, the celebrities hardly delivered successful performances of their private persons. Nevertheless, even if the programme failed in facilitating the kind of relaxed and intimate conversation it so energetically pursued, Person to Person pointed not only to significant changes taking place in celebrity culture, but also to the fundamental part played by television as medium and technology in these changes. In the beginning of the 2000s, digital media gave rise to the second significant leap in the dissolution of boundaries between the private and the public. The rise of the Internet, the new technology’s construction of ubiquitous real-time transmission, and digital modes of production (like cell phone cameras) and distribution (an abundance of celebrity entertainment and celebrity gossip sites) have offered a whole new range of outlets for celebrity photos, videos and text. Moreover, the Internet provides a range of communication platforms for celebrities who “decide to “go publicly private”” and, like ‘ordinary’ people “feel compelled to use social networking sites to speak “as themselves” in images and words to fans and friends” (Senft 2013: 351). The following sections centre on the ways in which this second shift has reconfigured the relationship between the private and the public in celebrity culture.

Presenting the self, keeping connected Social media change the form and content of communication by, with and about celebrities. They have introduced new genres to celebrity culture and prompted reinterpretations of old ones. Genres such as celebrity selfies, snaps and 140-character exclamations on Twitter have evolved, just as Instagram has developed quickly as a platform for uploading selfies and other representations by celebrities and YouTube has generated its own breed of celebrities. Moreover, the more active participation of both celebrities and fans in today’s accelerated, digital media circuit transforms the importance and meaning of long-standing genres such as paparazzi photography, red carpet photography etc. Social media shape everyday activities, connect people and are major purveyors of news. Moreover, they affect the way we understand and live in the social realm today. Apart from these overall similarities, different platforms, that is, social network sites, blogs, video-sharing sites etc., vary according to technological affordances and constraints as well as genre conventions and innovations. However, social media are also dynamic; they mutate and their affordances change, improve and expand according to patterns of use and the interconnectedness between different social media platforms. Ellison and boyd define social network sites along these lines: 162

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A social network site is a networked communication platform in which participants 1)  have uniquely identifiable profiles that consist of user-supplied content, content provided by other users, and/or system-provided data; 2) can publicly articulate connections that can be viewed and traversed by others; and 3)  can consume, produce, and/or interact with streams of usergenerated content provided by their connections on the site. (2013: 159, italics in original) The blurring of boundaries between private and public on social network sites is not least ascribable to the creation of the personal profile and the informality of communication. Connections are part and parcel of social media; “friends” and “followers” make up the network of interpersonal contacts and posts, images and opinions are spread, shared and commented on by other networks and individuals. Social media afford interpersonal communication and interactive content production shared by a bounded network of friends, which occupies the same space and is either equally accessible if reciprocity exists as for example Facebook friends or accessible without the reciprocity of friendship when following celebrities and others on Twitter, Instagram, Facebook etc. Due to this construction of the sites, an ideology of communication as democratic is prevalent. The sense of presence on social network sites caused by the technological affordance and social logic of participation and updating as well as the networked construction of connections are core challenges, but it also offers new opportunities to celebrity practices. Scarcity has been traded for continuous updates and single representations of isolated public performances for seriality (of posts on Twitter and images on Instagram, for example). Distance and indirect communication with fans (controlled by the celebrity entourage) have been superseded by seemingly direct and immediate conversations. The hierarchy and formality implied by the construction of celebrities as extraordinary is replaced by or negotiated within a communicative environment saturated by ideas and rhetorical markers of communicative equality and “friending”. Whereas celebrity practice used to switch between periods of high degrees of exposure (e.g. promoting new films or participating in celebratory events) and periods of low degrees of exposure (e.g. in between premieres), celebrity practice in the era of social media involves a regular, oftentimes daily, updating of the doings of the celebrity self. However, it should also be noted that even if most contemporary celebrities maintain and shape their brand on social media, celebrities such as Brad Pitt, George Clooney, Julia Roberts, Benedict Cumberbatch and Jennifer Lawrence have made the headlines of celebrity news by not making themselves available on these platforms and preserving some of the pre-digital exclusivity and glamour. On social media, the celebrity image is up for continuous maintenance, hence P.  David Marshall’s (2010) suggestion that, historically, a representational regime has to some degree been replaced by a presentational one. Celebrity practice is an integral part of a culture, in which individual selves are continuously presenting themselves to others in order to be recognized, validated and valued for their particular ‘self-production’: Through social media, the public self is presented through a new layer of interpersonal conversation that in its mode of address bears little relationship to its representational media past. (Marshall 2010: 41) Marshall argues that the unceasing work of producing and reproducing what he calls “the online self ” in the apparently direct intercommunicative space of presentational media negotiates celebrity differently than was the case in representational media like television, film and the press. As indicated by the terms, one of the differences between the presentational and the 163

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representational regime is that celebrities to a greater extent seem to present themselves directly to followers and fans rather than represent and being represented by a host of institutional agents. Accordingly, celebrities offer what appear to be more authentic versions of themselves on social media than the rehearsed versions fabricated by representational media genres (like for example the planned spontaneity of television talk shows or acceptance speeches at award shows). Within this presentational regime, social media enable celebrities to keep in touch with fans and other followers by offering trivial bits and pieces about what is going on right now, right here in everyday life. “Connection over content” appears to be the underlying principle to deploy an expression from sociologist Vincent Miller about phatic communication on social media (2008: 397), that is, the use of linguistic markers to signal presence. Phatic communication nurtures bonds with fans by hailing them through performances of closeness and presence, thereby contributing discursively to creating the sense of connectedness. Introduced originally by Bronislaw Malinowski and then used by Roman Jakobson, phatic communication has in recent years been rediscovered by scholars to analyse the way in which communication on social media largely serves to keep in touch rather than convey substantial information (see e.g. Miller 2008; Marwick and boyd 2011a, 2011b; Jerslev and Mortensen 2015). When celebrities take advantage of what is “social” in social media, this can mostly be explained in terms of phatic communication constructing a sense of presence, accessibility and authenticity. By the same token, Licoppe and Smoreda discuss phatic communication on digital media as a means to construct what they term ‘connected presence’, which also constitutes an apt term to describe the modes deployed by celebrities to interact with fans on social media: In the regime of ‘connected’ presence, participants multiply encounters and contacts using every kind of mediation and artifacts available to them: relationships thus become seamless webs of quasi-continuous exchanges. The boundaries between absence and presence get blurred and subtle experiences of togetherness may develop.The use of messaging technologies develops, for ‘connected presence’ weighs heavily on participants’ limited availability and attention; however committed they are to sustain that form of mediated sociability. Phatic communications becomes increasingly important, because simply keeping in touch may be more important than what is said when one actually gets in touch. (Licoppe and Smoreda 2005: 321, see also Jerslev and Mortensen 2015) The coupling of connectedness and phatic communication is instructive for understanding the communicative mode of celebrities being present and available on social network sites. Fans obtain glimpses into celebrities’ everyday lives and learn about their opinions and views on current issues and events etc. in an ongoing dialogue, or rather pseudo-dialogue in so far as the fan-celebrity relationship on social media tends to be a one-way street: celebrities rarely answer fans’ comments or follow their profiles in return. Basic power balances are negotiated, but the asymmetrical logic characterizing the relationship between celebrities and followers/fans seems to endure. Despite the connected presence offered by celebrities on social media, they are not to be mistaken for a democratization of celebrity culture.

Celebrity news across media Celebrities communicating on social media cross media in two different circuits: first, celebrities adopt cross-media strategies and combine various social network sites to work on different aspects of their persona, and, second, content from celebrities’ social media profiles routinely 164

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enters into mainstream celebrity and entertainment news and changes the feeding chain of celebrity news and gossip. Regarding the circuit generated by celebrities themselves, their use of social media often gives the impression of being structured according to cross-media communication strategies. Celebrities promote their brand differently on distinct platforms attuned to their affordances and conventions, but they also frequently link to content on different social media accounts and thus more or less systematically create a collected narrative. Barbadian singer and songwriter Rihanna constitutes a prominent example of a celebrity who seems to take advantage of the communicative forms and affordances of different social network sites. Her Instagram profile,3 on which she frequently publishes imitated or actual fashion photographs and short videos of herself in designer outfits, emphasizes her extraordinary, front region persona. This Instagram profile thus contributes to maintaining sponsorships, e.g. with Puma, and promoting Rihanna’s own fragrance, RiRi, but also functions as a styling and commodification of her celebrity self (Jerslev and Mortensen 2015). Her Twitter profile, followed by almost 57  million, similarly focuses on what might be termed front-stage impressions of Rihanna promoting her brand or cross-promoting other brands.This profile mostly links to Rihanna stories, videos and images on other platforms such as commercials for Puma featuring the artist on YouTube, cover stories of Rihanna in fashion magazines, an announcement that she has made a number one single, etc.4 By contrast, videos posted to the more ephemeral platform Snapchat show 10-second scenes from the everyday casual backstage life of Rihanna hanging out with friends, killing a bug in a hotel room with her designer shoe, singing in a car, shopping for snacks and cracking jokes.5 These videos contribute to the celebrification of Rihanna by constructing the singer as cool and trendy, not only because the snaps have an air of authentic intimacy and trashiness, but also because she is “snapping” and hereby constructing herself as social media savvy. By offering backstage views and nurturing bonds to fans, the videos on Snapchat emphasize the phatic function of social media. Different social media offer different storylines feeding into the overarching narrative of Rihanna’s brand in between glamour and street, commodification and authenticity. Mark Ruffalo constitutes another example of a celebrity deploying a cross-media strategy to project different aspects of his persona on social media. On his Instagram account, Ruffalo presents himself as “a husband, father, actor, director, and a climate change advocate with an eye out for love and hope”. And he adds, “Please, enjoy my photos” and includes a link to another social media site, the blogging site Tumblr.6 Ruffalo uses Instagram to upload selfies and snapshots of himself and his family, of New York, of himself in relaxed situations with coworkers, other people in the media business, and fellow activists, with friends backstage at a concert or participating in an event for a cause. The Instagram account tells the story of “the good life” and a down-to-earth, modest and relaxed person. Moreover, he offers backstage access to his private life, for example by posting an image of his wife in their modest and unglamorous bathroom with the caption “The glamorous life of a Hollywood Actor’s wife. Cleaning out the pet cages”7 and a close-up of himself seemingly recently woken up saying “Just… Happy Saturday Everyone! Yes”.8 Three consecutive almost cinematic posts of Ruffalo and his wife preparing for the 2016 BAFTA event constitute an intimate narrative of an ordinary event (a couple preparing to go to a party): the first snapshot shows his wife wrapped in a white bathrobe in a hotel room; the second is a black-and-white selfie of Ruffalo adjusting his bow tie in a mirror while his wife walks out of the frame in the background; and the final image depicts the couple dressed up and sitting in a car which is presumably taking them to the BAFTAs.9 Yet, this is not an ordinary party but an extraordinary occasion, where the British Academy of Film and Television Art celebrates the movie and television business and has invited Ruffalo in his capacity as a nominee for best supporting actor in Spotlight (2015). By contrast to his presence on Instagram, Ruffalo’s 165

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Twitter profile is a narrower channel for the actor’s political and social engagement. He energetically uses Twitter to establish himself as a politically passionate and concerned citizen (21,197 tweets since he joined in June 2009 as of 8 March 2016). The description on his Twitter profile in part overlaps with the one on Instagram, but he puts more emphasis on activism and advocacy when presenting himself as “a husband, father, actor, director, and a climate change advocate with an eye on a better, brighter, cleaner, more hopeful future for all of us”. Correspondingly, Ruffalo mostly tweets and retweets on political issues – though also on literature and some of his work-related doings. By means of the mutually supportive and reinforcing activities on the two platforms, the actor constructs a coherent self and communicates a strong sense of authenticity to fans and followers. The continuous posting of strong political opinions on Twitter conveys the impression of a genuine person who is sincerely occupied with creating a better world and communicating about this engagement. This projection of a reliable, politically committed celebrity with integrity and high moral standards is supported by his Instagram profile documenting a private person, who is ordinary and jovial, at the same time as he is a renowned actor. As such, Ruffalo constructs a coherent and authentic persona, which is further supported by recurrent choice of roles, be it the humanist superhero Hulk in the Avengers blockbuster films, characters with a cause in Spotlight (2015) or The Normal Heart (2014), the relaxed, non-materialistic but also passionate types in films like Begin Again (2013) or The Kids are All Right (2010) or the slightly unbalanced characters in films such as You Can Count on Me (2000), Infinitely Polar Bear (2014) or Margaret (2011). By taking advantage of the possibilities offered by different social media platforms, celebrities project and play on different aspects of their work and persona. Dyer suggested that “the magic with many stars is that they seem to be their private selves in public” (1986: 14). Social media platforms are effective means of at once enhancing this sense of communicating an authentic self and simultaneously nurturing followers with seemingly non-strategically planted bits and pieces of private celebrity life. Cross-media communication constitutes an effective way of spreading information about themselves and their projects. Communicating on multiple platforms may therefore be an effective tool to create a strong and robust celebrity narrative, to the extent that followers obtain a sense of continuity and coherence. At the same time the photographic genres and the short videos appear to be random – and even randomly framed – moments in a continued visual narrative about a person, which is documented at the same time and pace as it unfolds in real life. In addition, it is a narrative apparently recounted by the celebrity him- or herself and therefore communicating a sense of sincerity and intimacy. Finally, being able to cleverly use different platforms together with an awareness of their individual affordances may project an image of an up-dated, cool and media-savvy celebrity. Content from celebrities’ social network sites also circulates in a larger circuit, involving the convergence between different media platforms. Snaps, tweets, updates and other content created and/or distributed by celebrities themselves change the feeding chain of celebrity news as their social media profiles have become rich sources of entertainment, gossip and other soft news in the current convergent and connective media ecology. Online celebrity entertainment news sites likewise repost an abundance of tweets and Instagram photos from celebrities. They also deploy this material as the point of departure for more elaborate stories; a large site like usmagazine.com to a great extent recirculates and elaborates on celebrities’ posted tweets and uploaded photos. This tendency to recycle content from celebrities’ social media profiles mirrors the general shift within journalism from gatekeeping to gatewatching as conceptualized by Bruns (2005) and others. Whereas journalists used to ‘keep the gates’ and decide on which stories to report according to cultural norms, market demands and criteria of newsworthiness, journalists now 166

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‘watch the gates’ and survey the lavishness of information available in the online public sphere (Jensen and Mortensen 2016).

Presenting, branding and controlling the celebrity self As already mentioned, the private celebrity self used to be a rare and exclusive asset, which celebrities tried to keep from the public eye and paparazzi photographers strove to capture in order to feed the celebrity-consuming audience. With the emergence of social media and the presentational regime outlined above, images of backstage, ordinary, everyday and private moments are continually uploaded and have become a major currency. Self-representations have taken on a new significance, not least in the form of snapshots, snaps and selfies produced and shared by celebrities. These genres have in common that they provide the impression of sharing fleetingly mundane or, on occasion, more extraordinary moments as they appear. The images can easily be uploaded to the sites and they can just as easily be deleted; the Snapchat app even makes snaps disappear 10 seconds after they have been opened. Typically, selfies and other self-representations show seemingly authentic situations of the celebrity in private surroundings or work-related situations, which more often than not depict either literal or symbolic backstages; before entering or after having attended award shows, before or after being on stage or taking time off with friends at home. They emphasize authenticity due to the immediacy, the apparent spontaneity, the often amateurish aesthetics and the trace of the person who took the snap inscribed in it. Selfies and other self-representations become a way to accentuate their “extraordinary ordinariness” (Mortensen and Jerslev 2014), i.e., people understood as extraordinary projecting images of themselves as ordinary. In all, the “snapshot aesthetics” (Sandbye 2007), which the photographic genres on social network sites have in common, offers itself as a particularly useful tool for projecting an impression of an authentic private celebrity self. If we return to the example of Ruffalo, his meeting with the girls who found his wallet is documented in a snapshot of the actor with tousled hair. The photo seems to be taken in the girls’ home and has the casual aesthetics of the mobile phone camera; it is slightly out of focus and the blurred contours of what seems to be a dog is visible in the foreground. Phatically, it attests to the celebrity’s presence at this place, at this point in time, after a day when dedicated fans and other social media users may have followed the unfolding drama of Ruffalo’s lost property. At the same time, the massive response from his “fan army” clearly indicates his status as extraordinary and along these lines Ruffalo also offers the classical fan gift as a reward, a signed photo of himself in his role as Hulk in The Avengers. This underscores how the ordinary snapshot of Ruffalo and the two girls only takes on significance against the backdrop of his celebrity status. Consequently, it accentuates how the tension between another set of oppositions, by which Richard Dyer defined celebrity culture in his canonical book Stars from 1979, the ordinary and extraordinary (or as he put it: the spectacular vs. the everyday, the special vs. the ordinary), is still negotiated on social media. Along with keeping connected to fans and followers by means of documenting their everyday, private lives, selfies and other self-representations also serve the additional purposes of celebrities’ self-branding and assuming control over their own images. First, selfies help strengthen celebrities’ brand by constructing idealized personas, leading a lavish lifestyle, sporting successful careers, showing strong ties to family and friends (often fellow celebrities), presenting a fit and styled body and speaking up for humanitarian and political issues (Jerslev and Mortensen 2015). This is nothing new; celebrity has always been about the self as commodity, or, as Richard Dyer puts it, stars/celebrities “are both the labour and the 167

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thing that labour produces” (1986: 5). However, on social network sites, celebrities project an image of self which gives the appearances of being unaffected by commercial strategies and may hence, paradoxically, work all the more forcefully for branding purposes. The celebrity practice of branding or performing a “self which continually produces itself for competitive circulation” (Wernick 1992: 193) has at its disposal a range of means for quick and easy distribution, which addresses followers and fans directly and can quickly be adjusted in accordance with immediate responses. Together with this general enforcement of their brand, celebrities often use selfrepresentations to promote their products, movies or music premiering, clothing lines coming out etc. For instance, when designer and former pop star Victoria Beckham publishes a picture on Instagram of herself sitting in a white dressing gown sewing on a sewing machine (alongside photos of her equally iconic husband, the former soccer star David Beckham dressed as Santa Claus for Christmas and the designer herself engaging in charity work), she keeps fans updated on her daily business and shares a moment from behind the scenes of the fashion industry and the life of a celebrity, but also quite overtly promotes her coming fashion collection.10 Celebrities also endorse other brands. For example, when Lady Gaga posts a picture of herself wearing clothes from Nico Panda next to the caption “ladygaga#Swag Japanese Ny goth streetwear with both punk and athletic edge comfortable stylish affordable @nicopanda AND THE red velvet KICKS 👟#nicopanda #nicopandass16”, she does not make it clear whether she has a formal or informal sponsorship agreement with this brand or just enjoys posing in the “swag” street wear.11 Second, self-representations of private situations constitute a way for celebrities to regain control over their own image from intrusive fans or paparazzo photographers. Social network sites in some instances help celebrities obtain increased control over their image and the photographs taken of them, for example by rebutting the news value of paparazzi photography. For instance, actress Lindsay Lohan “outsmarts” paparazzi photographers with her selfies: In my position, which is, you know, a little bit different sometimes– if I go out and there’s paparazzi or something, and they’re gonna take a picture, you never know what they might make it look like or how it’s gonna look. So if you do take a selfie, and you Instagram that or tweet that, then there’s no picture for them to take so they don’t follow you. They don’t follow me. There’s no picture to take; it’s been taken.12 With a similar protest against paparazzi photographers’ hunt for “stolen images” from the private life of celebrities (Mortensen and Jerslev 2014), Swedish ascribed celebrity (Rojek 2001) Princess Madeleine posted family vacation photographs of her children and herself on her “official” Facebook site, writing: “Family time, sadly interrupted. What a pity we weren’t just asked for photos, because here are some sweet ones”.13 The post received 61,282 likes (as of 8 March 2015). Her gesture diminishes the commodity value of paparazzi photographs and emphasizes that she is in control of her own image. Moreover, the comment invokes authenticity by laying claim to ordinariness; the photographs appear to be standard family snapshots, which were not originally intended for the public eye. And finally, the photos nurture the ‘private’ discourse on the princess’s ‘official’ Facebook site, on which photographs of Swedish winter landscapes sent by “my mom” (i.e., the Swedish queen) that make her “miss home” are posted side by side with official pictures from the Nobel Gala dinner. However, celebrities such as Kim Kardashian also assume the opposite strategy and overcome the gap between paparazzi photographs and selfies by posting paparazzi photographs on their Instagram profile in order to document “yesterday’s outfit” and thereby point to explicit or implicit collaboration between paparazzi photographers and celebrities (see also Mortensen and Jerslev 2014; McNamara 2016).14 168

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In sum, the rapidly growing tendency for celebrities to publish selfies and other selfrepresentations of their ‘ordinary’ lives behind the scenes has become a way to continuously feed their fan community with updates. They serve phatically to keep connected by showing fans and followers where they are, with whom, and what they are doing at this very moment, thus establishing a co-presence to the lives of fans. Moreover, the self-representations serve to promote the celebrity’s brand and cross-promote other brands and function as a means for the celebrity to assume control over his or her own image.

Micro-celebrity While fans are given the opportunity to follow the everyday life of celebrities in frequent updates, social media communication also enables ‘ordinary’ people to transform into celebrities. As boyd puts it, social media allow “people to enact celebrity practices” (2014: 148). Social network sites and video-sharing platforms make online performances designed for self-branding possible for everyone and in accordance with celebrity logic enable “the presentation of oneself as a celebrity regardless of who is paying attention” (Marwick 2013: 114). This, once again, emphasizes the general tendency that contemporary celebrity culture narrows the gap between celebrities and fans. With the rise of the Internet and social media, the term micro-celebrity has been put to use in order to denote significant changes in celebrity practice. Originally, Senft (2008) coined micro-celebrity in connection with webcam performers creating a community of followers. Senft argued that the Web fostered a “new style of online performance that involves people ‘amping up’ their popularity over the Web using technologies like video, blogs and social networking sites” (Senft 2008: 25). Later, Senft elaborated on this definition and reflected on micro-celebrity as an online social practice, “the commitment to deploying and maintaining one’s online identity as if it were a branded good, with the expectation that others do the same” (2013: 350). Senft points out that micro-celebrity should not only be understood as a description of the social behaviour of specific famed persons with a huge following – which is the case with for example some “YouTube stars” (Burgess and Green 2013), that is, mostly young people who on a regular basis upload videos to their YouTube channels. Micro-celebrity is also used to designate a broader way of communicating and representing the self online, which follows along the reciprocal logic of creating attention on the part of for example vloggers and immediate acknowledgement from audiences in the form of subscriptions, followings, comments, etc. Focusing on a social media context, Alice Marwick suggests that micro-celebrity is “a way of thinking of oneself as a celebrity, and treating others accordingly […] regardless of one’s actual audience” (Marwick 2013: 115). Micro-celebrity is a way of behaving online as if always being in front of an audience. Therefore, according to Marwick, the ‘micro’ in micro-celebrity should not be understood as merely related to scope, i.e., the number of subscribers etc. On the contrary, quite a few YouTube vloggers have millions of subscribers and some over a billion views of their videos. The Internet is their first and most important stage and they use YouTube channels to upload their videos.Therefore, the prefix “micro” relates to media circuits too, and the media and platforms of micro-celebrity contrast with mainstream celebrity coming from the ‘old’ media of radio, film and television. Central to micro-celebrity is the successful online performance of visibility and availability. Micro-celebrity is at once an effort and the result of that effort, the setting up of a communicative situation and its successful accomplishment. Going back to Goffman, micro-celebrity can thus be regarded as a prevalent form of impression management online, the presentation of 169

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oneself in a certain context in order to receive the tokens of popularity and, in reverse, constitute online users as potential audiences and fans (who might themselves be aspiring microcelebrities). As Marwick and boyd put it, micro-celebrity involves “viewing friends or followers as a fan base; acknowledging popularity as a goal; managing the fan base using a variety of affiliative techniques; and constructing an image of self that can be easily consumed by others” (2011b: 141). Marwick and boyd may be right in asserting that micro-celebrity is not only an online phenomenon, but a widespread way of constructing the self in a celebrified culture or what Andrew Wernick as early as 1992 called a “culture of universal promotion”. However, the term has mostly been used for online visibility. Social network sites lend themselves easily to this way of enacting celebrified selves; the prominently placed number of views, comments, followers and subscribers on the sites immediately reflects the degree of visibility – and the possibility of turning online activities into profitable businesses. One prominent micro-celebrity – or “digital star” as he has been named in journal articles – with a huge online fandom is Swedish-born, UK-based game vlogger Felix Kjellberg, known as PewDiePie, who launched his YouTube channel in 2010. As of 1 March 2016, he ranks number five in subscription numbers and number one in views on the “games and gaming” YouTube channel list. He has over 42 million subscribers/fans, which he calls his “Bro Army”, and more than 11 billion views of his so-called “Let’s Play” videos, where he plays different sorts of games and, simultaneously, comments on the play (mostly in English, sometimes in Swedish) from a small window on the screen. PewDiePie is indeed an online celebrity entrepreneur, who since 2010 has expanded what has been referred to as his “digital-media empire”.15 Since 2012, he has been affiliated with Disney’s Maker Studio, a multichannel content network on YouTube for producing and uploading short-form videos. Most recently, he launched Revelmode in collaboration with Maker Studio, which is a network dedicated to a range of activities by himself and other “talents”, the intention being, according to an ad for the network on YouTube, “to create a dynamic network for today’s digital age. Revelmode focuses on creating original premium content, game development, philanthropy, commercial partnerships, and merchandise for fans and future creators”.16 Moreover, the vision of the young celebrity entrepreneur is “to create a reach of over 100 million passionate followers across platforms like YouTube, Twitter, Instagram and Vine. The brand believes that digital content has the power to entertain and unite fans as well as inspire millennials into positive social action”.17 Social media, in particular YouTube, are the birthplace, the home, the playground and the generator of huge revenues for PewDiePie and other young creative entrepreneurs, who, by performing themselves and demonstrating their particular skills, manage to establish themselves as celebrities. Moreover, they create closeness to followers and awareness of their presence and importance by addressing them directly. In this way, they manage and nourish their fan-base through their ways of address; for example PewDiePie writes on his YouTube channel about a series of horror videos featuring himself acting in a kind of real-life game play: “Watch me, PewDiePie, get put in real life games that take horror games to the next level. Will I make it out alive? I don’t know. But don’t you worry. I’m doing this for you, Bros!”.18 Like other YouTube vloggers, PewDiePie has expanded his celebrity practice into the offline world and traditional media: he launched a book amidst great attention and he has been a guest on The Late Show With Stephen Colbert. Social media seem to afford not only the means for practising and nourishing celebrity but also the platforms for extended crossmedia entrepreneurial creativity. Thus, PewDiePie, his gang of young collaborators and a 170

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host of YouTubers exemplify vividly Senft’s claim that micro-celebrity “changes the game of celebrity” (Senft 2013: 350).

Conclusions and future perspectives This chapter has discussed changes in celebrity culture prompted by the advent of the Internet and not least social media. First, we have outlined how new digital modes of communicating and representing the self have participated crucially in what has in this chapter been described as a narrowing of the gap between celebrities and their fans and followers concomitant with the widespread tendency to publicly perform the private self and offer bits and pieces of the private life. Communication on social media entails the breakdown of the distance which used to belong to the construction of the celebrity’s extraordinariness. We have argued that this is the most important and major change in contemporary celebrity culture afforded by social network sites: celebrity practice’s contribution to the changed relationship between the public and the private in culture and everyday life. However, we have also emphasized that the mediation of private life on social media is nothing new. The breakdown of rigid barriers between the private and the public had already started in the mid-50s and increased with television and other cultural changes. What is new is the ubiquity of exposure, the extent to which potentially everyone, including celebrities, offers parts of their selves for public scrutiny, and, moreover, that celebrity value is no more solely connected with scarce appearances and measured by celebrities’ ability to establish distance. The tension between the private and the public as constitutive of the construction of celebrity, which Richard Dyer (1986) eloquently pointed to, has diminished in favour of seemingly effortless, continual uploads of images, videos and short texts documenting celebrities’ private life. Second, through a discussion of a range of examples of celebrities using social networking sites, the chapter has demonstrated the way in which celebrities themselves orchestrate their image and contribute to the development of their brand. In contrast to earlier decades, contemporary celebrities on social media seem to be controlling their own appearance  – although, of course, it is often indeterminable whether celebrities themselves or their entourage are in charge of the activities. Without intermediaries such as large press departments, celebrities’ social media activities may pre-empt paparazzi photographers’ efforts; celebrities may use social media for damage control; they may actively use social media to remind the public of their presence without being dependent upon journalistic news criteria or gatekeepers; finally, their use of social media may contribute to the construction of an amiable and sellable persona. Third, the chapter has outlined how social media have contributed to spreading celebrity practice outside the traditional celebrity circuits and their PR machinery. The term microcelebrity designates communicative and social practices afforded by social media in which holders of, for example, Facebook profiles or Twitter or Instagram accounts strategically perform themselves in order to establish a following. Therefore, one might say that users of social media act as if always appearing in front of an audience in order to connect and establish an audience of loyal fans. Micro-celebrity is a new kind of celebrity, enabled by the affordances of the Internet, the logic of which is to create visibility, knownness and a following. As such, and fourth, celebrity practice is about impression management. Erving Goffman (1990 [1959]) coined the term in order to make the case for communication as basically strategic, performative and contextual. Social interaction is about giving members of an audience the exact impression of self that one wants to project in a given situation. This goes for face-to-face communication and for mediated communication, for communication 171

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among ordinary persons  – and for celebrity communication on social network sites; it is about constructing an image of self which is coherent and seems authentic. Performing the private celebrity on social media successfully is about creating an “authenticity contract” (Enli 2015) with the audience, to manage the impression that one is sincere, genuine, when projecting the private self for example by uploading photos of seemingly spontaneous, unstaged, ordinary occurrences. To the extent that authenticity is not a being but a doing – to convincingly perform sincerity – authenticity is always up for negotiation. However, due to the affordances of social media, immediate upload and the frequent use of genres such as selfies and snapshots, which in and by themselves exude immediacy and spontaneity, chances are feelings of authenticity may be pulled off . Throughout the last decades, backstage has shrunk, and in its place the mediated realm Meyrowitz called middle region with a back region bias has grown exponentially. Even the typical contemporary paparazzi photograph does not often capture what Meyrowitz suggested calling deep backstage, the even more private space developed with the expansion of middle region. Online paparazzi photography today to a large part consists of celebrities with a coffee in their hand or walking through airports (Mortensen and Jerslev 2014) and rarely does scandalous celebrity gossip travel across media. In today’s culture, celebrity can be regarded as a ubiquitous communicative form and the private has become a monetizable mainstream practice, not least on social media. Each new social media platform offers new tools and new services for constructing celebrity/fan interactions, for communicating immediacy and closeness and for expanding the range of venues of celebrity practice to include many different forms and institutional frames. Of course, “classical” celebrity/star practices are still present outside social media contexts, and fame today is also synonymous with performances of scarcity, privacy and distance. Some big stars are not even on social media at all. On the other hand, social media communication seems effectively to extend the large-scale fame of some stars by expanding their visibility and following. YouTube ‘stars’, as one form of micro-celebrity practice, may have huge numbers of followers and may expand their entrepreneurial endeavours across different media platforms. But even if microcelebrities turn ‘macro’ in terms of spread and reach, micro-celebrity continues to be a way of performing the self online. As such, the term celebrity today encompasses a wide spectrum of performances of selves in different media, through different kinds of “attention-getting techniques” (Marwick 2015: 138) and within different media institutional logics. Bearing in mind that celebrity is a particular mediated practice as emphasized in the beginning of this chapter (following Marwick and boyd 2011b) and that micro-celebrity is “something people do” (Marwick 2015: 140), fame today encompasses a variety of visible manifestations. They are formed within a spectrum of blurring of cultural boundaries, but also temporary drawings of new boundaries in time and space  – across the private and the public, across the ordinary and the extraordinary, across celebrities and fans, and across celebrity and micro-celebrity practices. In a sense, the pervasiveness of practices for gaining attention and managing impressions through a plethora of ever-changing social media platforms appears to be irreversible. Celebrification as a communicative doing is everywhere, always available as a mode of consumption and (co-)production, in particular on social media. Due to this omnipresence of celebrity practices, the existing vocabulary does not always suffice. More precise terms are called for, it seems, not only in order to distinguish between different kinds of micro-celebrities or between micro-celebrities and traditional types of celebrities (connected to film, television and the music scene), but also to designate the many varieties of cross-media practices through which celebrity is produced and reproduced now and in the future. 172

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Notes 1 www.stuff .co.nz/entertainment/celebrities/76215161/mark-ruff alo-deploys-fan-army-to-help-findphone-and-wallet-lost-in-storm (this and the following links were last accessed on 8 July 2016). 2 https://mobile.twitter.com/MarkRuffalo/status/691037252730933248?p=v. 3 www.instagram.com/badgalriri/. 4 https://mobile.twitter.com/rihanna?ref_src=twsrc%5Egoogle%7Ctwcamp%5Eserp%7Ctwgr%5Eauthor. 5 Rihanna’s “snaps” are obtainable from this Twitter account (not managed by Rihanna or her management):  https://mobile.twitter.com/RihSnapchat?p=s. Many of them are also available as YouTube compilations. 6 www.instagram.com/markruffalo/?hl=en. 7 www.instagram.com/p/2Yh2YwrDSC/?taken-by=markruffalo. 8 www.instagram.com/p/6IK2DBLDa1/?taken-by=markruffalo. 9 www.instagram.com/p/BBxdijlLDfH/; www.instagram.com/p/BBxdwe4LDf1/. Similar photographs were uploaded the previous year, cf. www.instagram.com/p/y2DhVFrDQB/?taken-by=markruffalo. 10 www.instagram.com/p/BCslKBlliCv/?taken-by=victoriabeckham. 11 www.instagram.com/p/BB_mReYJFI9/?taken-by=ladygaga&hl=en. 12 www.thegloss.com/2014/04/18/beauty/lindsay-lohan-selfies-the-view/. 13 www.facebook.com/PrincessMadeleineOfSweden/?fref=ts, posted on 21 January. http:// theduchessdiary.com/2016/01/princess-madeleine-to-paparazzi-just-ask-for-pics-of-my-family-onvacation/. 14 http://nymag.com/thecut/2013/11/stealing-from-the-paparazzi-to-feed-instagram.html. 15 http://variety.com/2016/digital/news/pewdiepie-revelmode-network-1201678900/. 16 Since finalizing this chapter, Disney has cancelled the collaboration with PewDiePie (Kjellberg), allegedly because he posted a range of anti-Semitic videos to his YouTube channel. Following this news, reported by The Wall Street Journal on 14 February 2017, the Maker Studios cut the ties to the vlogger; moreover,YouTube decided to cancel the second season of his reality show ScarePewDiePie. However, it also appears that the termination of Maker Studio’s collaboration with PieDiePie was part of a larger plan to cancel the support of thousands of YouTubers, along with the layoff of personnel. While apologizing for the videos on 16 February 2017, PewDiePie also attacked the press for having misunderstood his intentions and making wrongful accusations against him. 17 www.youtube.com/watch?v=Qmv0u8xnt-M. 18 www.youtube.com/user/PewDiePie.

References Bennett, J. 2011. Television Personalities: Stardom and the small screen. Abingdon: Routledge. boyd, d. 2014. It’s Complicated:The social life of networked teens. New Haven, CT: Yale Univ. Press. Bruns, A. 2005. Gatewatching: Collaborative online news production. New York: Peter Lang. Burgess, J., and Green, J. 2013. YouTube. Cambridge: Polity. Dyer, R. 1989 [1979]. Stars. London: British Film Institute. Dyer, R. 2004 [1986]. Heavenly Bodies. London: Routledge. Ellison, N.B., and boyd, d. 2013. Sociality through social network sites. In W.H. Dutton (ed.), The Oxford Handbook of Internet Studies (pp. 151–172). Oxford: Oxford Univ. Press. Enli, G. 2015. Mediated Authenticity: How the media constructs reality. New York: Peter Lang. Goffman, E., 1990 [1959]. The Presentation of Self in Everyday Life. London: Penguin Books. Jensen, J.L., and Mortensen, M. 2016. Emerging patterns of news production and consumption across media. In J.L. Jensen, J. Ørmen and M. Mortensen (eds), News Across Media. New York: Routledge. Jerslev, A., and Mortensen, M. 2015.What is the self in the celebrity selfie?: Celebrification, phatic communication and performativity. Celebrity Studies Journal. doi: 10.1080/19392397.2015.1095644. Kitzmann, A. 2003. That different place:  Documenting the self within online environments. Biography, 26(1): 48–65. Licoppe, C., and Smoreda, Z. 2005. Are social networks technologically embedded? How networks are changing today with changes in communication technology. Social Networks, 27: 317–335. Marshall, P.D. 2006. New media  – new self:  The changing power of celebrity. In P.D. Marshall (ed.), The Celebrity Culture Reader (pp.634–645). New York: Routledge. 173

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Marshall, P.D. 2010. The promotion and presentation of the self:  Celebrity as marker of presentational media. Celebrity Studies, 1(1): 35–48. Marwick, A. 2013. Status Update:  Celebrity, publicity and branding in the social media age. New Haven: Yale Univ. Press. Marwick, A. 2015. Instafame: Luxury selfies in the attention economy. Public Culture, 27(1): 137–160. Marwick, A.E., and boyd, d. 2011a. I tweet honestly, I tweet passionately: Twitter users, context collapse, and the imagined audience. New Media & Society, 13(1): 114–133. Marwick, A.E., and boyd, d. 2011b. To see and be seen:  Celebrity practice on Twitter. Convergence: The International Journal of Research into New Media Technologies, 17(2): 139–158. McNamara, K. 2016. Paparazzi: Media practices and celebrity culture. Cambridge: Polity. Meyrowitz, J. 1985. No Sense of Place: The impact of electronic media on social behavior. New  York:  Oxford Univ. Press. Miller,V. 2008. New media, networking and phatic culture. Convergence, 14(4): 387–400. Mortensen, M., and Jerslev, A. 2014. Taking the extra out of the extraordinary: Paparazzi photography as an online celebrity news genre. International Journal of Cultural Studies, 17(6): 619–636. Redmond, S.  2006. Intimate fame everywhere. In S.  Holmes and S.  Redmond (eds), Framing Celebrity (pp. 27–43). London: Routledge. Rojek, C. 2001. Celebrity. London: Reaktion Press. Sandbye, M. 2007. Kedelige billeder:  Fotografiets snapshotæstetik [Dull Images. Photography’s snapshot aesthetics]. Copenhagen: Forlaget Politisk Revy. Scannell, P. 2014. Television and the Meaning of Life. Cambridge: Polity. Schickel, R. 1990. … Better than ever: Sid Avery’s Hollywood. In S. Avery and R. Schickel (eds), Hollywood at Home. A family album 1950–1965. New York: Crown. Senft, T.M. 2008. Camgirls: Celebrity and community in the age of social networks. New York: Peter Lang. Senft,T.M. 2013. Microcelebrity and the branded self. In J. Hartley, J. Burgess and A. Bruns (eds), Companion to New Media Dynamics (pp. 346–354). Chichester: Wiley-Blackwell. van Dijck, J. 2013. The Culture of Connectivity: A critical history of social media. Oxford: Oxford Univ. Press. Wernick, A. 1992. Promotional Culture, Advertising, Ideology and Symbolic Expression. London: Sage.

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Part III

Non-Western Celebrity

11 Victims, Bollywood and the construction of a cele-meme Pramod K. Nayar

Hindi cinema, also known as Bollywood, the world’s largest producer of films, is a prime example of a celebrity ecology, which includes media construction, consumer, spectacle and power (Nayar 2009) that nurtures interesting, challenging and, expectedly, even revanchist views of gender, caste, nation and the individual. Bollywood and its cognate industries  – publicity, poster-designers, fashion shows, advertising – is a fertile ground for the study of Indian forms of celebrification. The stars move into politics, are worshipped as gods and demi-gods, generate a wholly different order of buzz, in India and globally, with their humanitarian activism, all of which offer us complex discourses and representational strategies for celebrity studies. I shall touch briefly upon some of the ways in which Bollywood stars contribute to a deeper understanding of celebrity studies in India. Bollywood stars display what S.V. Srinivas in his study of the South Indian, specifically Telugu, star, Chiranjeevi, termed ‘cinematic populism’ (2009). Cinematic populism merges off-screen and online roles. This is particularly true of the first generation of actors-turned-politicians. Many of the actors in the 1950–1970 period, especially in the film industries of Southern India, were well known for their portrayal of gods on screen (Nayar 2009: 94–95). The visual rhetoric of the deity and the film hero relies upon a frontality. This viewing of the divine face is called darshan in Hindi and the frontal portrayal of the Indian film heroes has reinforced this quasidivine association of the film hero/ine.The deity and the film hero/ine, and particularly the hero, gaze out at the audience/viewer, thereby meeting the viewer’s gaze in a darshanic visual linkage, both on screen and in advertising posters and notices, as commentators have noted (Prasad 1998: 74–78; Dwyer and Patel 2002: 33). This frontal viewing often transforms the viewed object into a desirable object, with the darshanic, which has specifically religious connotations of the visual, blurring into the nazar, or the gaze of romance (Taylor 2003). The fan clubs around these stars, especially in the case of Southern Indian stars like Rajnikanth (Tamil films), in their iconography (in terms of film star portraits, cut-outs and material culture practices) merge religious devotion with film consumption (Rogers 2011). The film star’s fan club has been a key component of social mobilization, class and caste identities and electoral/political campaigns as well (Dickey 2001, Jacob 2008). Visual rhetoric therefore establishes a certain layered order of celebrity – as human, as divine – of the film star in India. This form of cinematic populism enables the crossover into politics as well. 177

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Recent trends of celebrity activism constitute another layer to celebrityhood in India. Bollywood stars’ humanitarian activism in the recent past has enabled a global citizenship for the celebs. Originating in a ‘developing nation’, armed with and represented through the discourses of case, compassion and charity operating at local levels but resonating with similar discourses across the world, the Bollywood star acquires a different order of celebrityhood (Nayar 2016). The staged battles of good and evil, the triumph of the good hero and the decimation of the villain, returning to Hindu epics and mythology in many cases, has always been a sure-fire mode of capturing the audience. In Bollywood iconography, the villain has ensured the amplification of the hero and the heroic (Ghosh 2013). Part of the celebrity appeal in Bollywood stems from this iconography as well, and needs to be investigated to see what, if any, social codes and cultural imaginaries are being reconstructed in definitions of good/evil, tolerable deviance/unacceptable crime, among others. Celebrity culture’s links with the larger social and cultural imaginaries are, I think, fruitfully explored through Bollywood – a point I come to toward the end of this essay when examining the victims on screen as moral icons. Bollywood’s traditional depiction of women has been stereotypical: sacrificing mother, vamp, devoted wife/sister, seductive beloved (who morphs, post-marriage – always the culmination of a romance in the regular commercial – into devoted wife/sister), tyrannical mother/sister-in-law. They are symbols of virtue, family values and tradition. Fareed Kazmi writes: The subconscious hold of socialization patterns inculcated in girls through the popular mythological stories of the ever suffering Sita as virtuous wife, or the all suffering Savitri who rescues her husband from death are all part of the preparation for suffering in the roles of wives and mothers. (2010: 63) Even variant models, of the ‘avenging’ woman for instance, tend to eventually reinforce the ‘safer’ stereotypes. However, woman-centred films from the post-1990s period sought, not always successfully, to construct a ‘new woman’ for India, endowed with agency, individualism and choice. Post-2000, as critics such as Sukanya Gupta note, the spectrum has shifted further toward empowered women roles, so that by showing how women can exist and have meaning beyond the confines of patriarchy and social expectations, these new queens of popular Bollywood films set a precedent, provide some much needed inspiration, and become empowered role models that resonate with the population (Gupta 2015: 2). Gupta’s argument is in line with Nandana Bose’s work on the Bollywood star Vidya Balan, whose films, Bose proposes, are feminist in their emphasis on women with agency, and thus mark a new trend in contemporary Hindi cinema (2014). Star actors and their films – Rani Mukherjee (No One Killed Jessica), Madhuri Dixit (Gulaab Gang), Kangana Ranaut (Queen), Vidya Balan (Kahaani) – have contributed in recent years to this shift so that, along with the celebrity actor/star, the theme of women’s empowerment, often independent of male ‘support’ and in the face of systemic resistance, itself makes its appearance. I think of this theme, current across academia, reportage, legislation and even occasionally the political class, especially in the wake of the December 2012 rape in New Delhi, as a celebrity theme, or a meme. I therefore see the celebrity victims as central to the formation of a celebrity idea, a programme of cultural (and eventually legal) action and an attitude. Women’s empowerment as an idea is a cele-meme in contemporary India, where meme is a replicable cultural idea or belief, transmissible across populations and functioning as a sociocultural contagion. This meme emerges because putative ideas of equality and women’s rights already exist and the celebrity victim triggers the cultural symptom of protests, calls for legislative 178

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action, campaigns for social reform and a change in attitudes, that indicates the expression of the ideas and brings collectives together. There are two principal modes through which recent Hindi cinema constructs this celememe of women’s empowerment. The first mode might be seen in films such as Gulaab Gang and Kahaani that explicitly reference agency, individual choice and even a certain militant stance (both films depict women clearly at ease with inflicting violence). The second mode is a more unusual one, where the filmmakers take the stories of celebrated real-life victims – by definition those denied agency and individual power of choice but also subjects of violence – and use these in films to present implicitly the need for empowerment. In most cases the victims are rendered celebrities, both due to the nature of their trauma, the subsequent social irruptions, media hype or campaigns and due to the films made around their lives. I suggest that victims who become subjects of films, while becoming celebrities for what their lives (or deaths) have catalysed, help generate the cele-meme of women’s agency precisely because the films implicitly signal the absence of any such agency. The celebrity ecology has already constructed the victim through extensive news coverage and media spectacle, as well as the protracted legal battles around them. The feature film takes the already available celebrity victim, and recasts it as a trope that then enables the making of the cele-meme. Phoolan Devi, Bhanwari Devi, Jessica Lal and Kiranjit Ahluwalia are celebrity victims around whose lives and trauma feature films have been made. These have been commercial successes in multiplexes catering to niche audiences, and often critically acclaimed. Shekar Kapur’s controversial film Bandit Queen (1995), about the woman dacoit Phoolan Devi, was produced for BBC’s Channel 4 and scripted by Phoolan Devi’s biographer Mala Sen. It starred the art film and multiplex actor Seema Biswas in the title role. Provoked (2006), starring the hugely successful beauty-queen-turned-star, Aishwarya Rai, was based on the life of abused wife Kiranjit Ahluwalia, set in England, and directed by Indian-born British filmmaker Jag Mundhra. Mundhra’s earlier attempt to do victim stories had been responsible for Bawandar (2000), about the 1992 gang-rape of social worker Bhanwari Devi (called Saanvari Devi in the film), in Rajasthan. Bawandar starred the activist-film-maker Nandita Das in the title role. No One Killed Jessica (2011), directed by Raj Kumar Gupta, was a film around the 1999 murder of model Jessica Lal, whose murderer, Manu Sharma, was acquitted after a long trial – subsequent public outrage sparked a second legal process and eventually Sharma was found guilty and sentenced. It starred Vidya Balan as the grieving sister of Jessica, and Rani Mukherjee as a fire-and-obscenity-spewing journalist who creates the proper celebrity ecology around Jessica. A cele-meme of women’s empowerment demands victim discourse.

The celebrity ecology of victims The celebrity ecology around these victims is crucial for any understanding of the subsequent cele-meme of women’s empowerment that the films generate and transmit. A  discourse of victimhood generated in the media and through public debates is already in place, from which the film feeds and feeds into. The discourse takes the individual and transforms her into a celebrity victim, even as the idea of empowerment and agency finds its own space of enunciation around the victim-discourse.The idea of empowerment becomes a cele-meme precisely because it draws upon and responds to this ecology of victimhood. The cele-meme of empowerment emerges because there is already a victim-discourse. Phoolan Devi was a media celebrity well before the film. Born into a ‘lower caste’ family in a tiny village in the northern Indian state of Uttar Pradesh, Phoolan Devi’s story became the stuff 179

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of media hype, speculation and opinion-making. Treated in the film as a victim of the sexual abuse she had suffered right from childhood, her subsequent exploits as a bandit in the ravines of northern India, a fugitive, the object of a massive manhunt, the caste tensions that ‘created’ a bandit (she was raped by upper-caste men, as the film version goes) and her acts of cruelty that were at once deplored and justified, Phoolan Devi was a victim-outlaw in media texts. She was the subaltern Indian woman who rebels but ultimately sought out the state for support (Sunder Rajan 2003; Murty 2009). The ‘malleable quality’ of her gender (Murty) meant that Phoolan Devi ‘transformed from the accursed feminine position to the masculine’ (unpaginated).The film highlighted the embedded violence of caste-ridden and rural India, and located Phoolan firmly within this context. The Bhanwari Devi case, as an early commentator, Kanchan Mathur, put it, ‘highlighted the vulnerability of poor, rural, low-caste women who are groomed to be change-agents in a complex feudal society’ (1992). Underscoring the rigid traditional value-systems that tether and circumscribe individuals, Mathur and others again signal the trope of embedded violence and ready-to-wear victimhood that women who seek change are forced to adopt. Change, as such commentators note, does not come easy and legislation is no deterrent for social evils (in the film when the policeman arrives to stop the child-marriage and tells the local head-man that the law prohibits the practice, the head-man notes that the law is only recent: the tradition goes back to antiquity). Bhanwari Devi is projected as the victim of uneven change in a postcolonial society: social change lags behind legislative processes. She is later incorporated into discussions and debates about sexual harassment and women’s rights, and thus enters the academic, public and political discourse as victim yet again. For instance, Apurva, writing about sexual harassment in the workplace in The Indian Express, opens her report with the Bhanwari Devi case. She ends her piece with:  ‘the crime and Bhanwari Devi emboldened other victims to come out and complain’ (2010). Bhanwari Devi’s case and her fight for justice led, of course, to a landmark judgment regarding sexual harassment, and she became the face of the campaign. Kiranjit Ahluwalia’s case caused the UK government’s legal system to redefine ‘provocation’, for having endured physical and mental abuse in her marriage. Arrested and convicted of murder, the charge was later altered to manslaughter and new medical evidence offered at the later trial suggested ‘diminished responsibility’ as a result of protracted abuse.The ‘free Ahluwalia’ campaign (in the film spearheaded by Nandita Das, of Bhanwari Devi fame) focused on the Battered Wives Syndrome, rendering her as a victim in biomedical, psychiatric and legal terms. Commentators, especially those who approach law from a feminist standpoint, noted that in Ahluwalia’s case a sympathetic portrait of her constructed her as more feminine than aggressive and therefore the legitimate and acceptable victim of conjugal violence.That is, the binary of battered women consists of ‘good victims’ and ‘bad victims’ and Ahluwalia fell into the former category (Tyson 2012: 27). Danielle Tyson summarizes this form of victimhood: ‘whether women defendants are treated as mad or harshly treated as bad depends on a cultural judgment’ (26). The Jessica Lal case that enraged the nation added class to the conflagration: the rich in India get away with murder, literally. The public outrage, protests and discourses targeted the politically connected upper classes for their disregard of life and the law. The numerous witnesses who turned hostile in the course of the trial pointed to, said the protests, the purchasing power of the rich, for the witnesses had been bought (when they were not threatened). Even the New York Times thought the class-centred public anger was worth reporting (Sengupta 2006). Jessica Lal here is projected as the victim of upper-class arrogance and the corruptibility of the Indian legal system, but also of middle-class apathy (or resignation). We thus have a celebrity ecology in place for the four victims who become the subject of feature films. Media coverage maps the embedded violence of rural India, the patriarchal Indian 180

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male, the corruptibility of the Indian legal system and the ominous links between caste, class and patriarchy. In each case the celebrity ecology constructs a victim for the social imaginary to dwell upon. I propose that this social and cultural construction of women victims from Phoolan Devi to Jessica Lal implicitly offers the cele-meme regarding women’s rights. Women’s rights are, to phrase it differently, a cele-meme because these are mediated through celebrity victims and their contexts, and then call upon us to see women differently. The cele-meme of women’s empowerment in these films based on real-life incidents and around celebrity victims generates the desirable and necessary idea of agency and individual choice through the construction of two victim models. Each model offers us a version of female agency, decision- and choice-making. The first model is of the reproachable victim. The ‘reproachable victim’ is one who contrasts with the ideals of femininity and where the victim status does not relieve them of the shame and blame (Jackobsen and Skilbrei 2010: 208). Phoolan Devi and Kiranjit Ahluwalia are reproachable because they killed and thus violated the law, as victims. The second model is of the ‘therapeutic victim’. By ‘therapeutic’ I mean the survivor in the case of Bhanwari Devi who proceeds to overcome her trauma and sets about campaigning for women’s rights, social awareness and justice. Her victimhood becomes the departure point for social-oriented therapy. In the case of Jessica Lal, while she did not survive, her victimhood serves to generate a therapeutic discourse in the film, one that seeks to cure the evils besetting India.

The reproachable victim in Bollywood In Provoked at a key moment in the trial the prosecution notes that Ahluwalia had the time to ‘cool off ’ from her last beating at the hands of her husband and so what she did later – set him on fire – constituted premeditated murder. In Bandit Queen, Phoolan Devi is depicted as consciously setting out to visit her vengeance upon the upper-caste landlords who had raped her. In both these instances from the fictionalized representation of the events in their lives, the films underscore the agential dimension of the victims’ acts. If Ahluwalia set about mixing caustic soda and petrol to produce the napalm which she then poured over her sleeping husband, Phoolan Devi forges a gang of armed men and attacks the village in order to kill the landlords. Both the victims as portrayed in these films possess some agency, albeit an agency circumscribed within the structures they inhabit: marriage and domesticity (Ahluwalia) and an identity located within the caste-gender-poverty triangulation (Phoolan). That both the victims are victims of their structures is noted in the film version. Yet, by drawing our attention to the acts of inducing a chemical reaction (Ahluwalia) and arming herself (Phoolan) leading to cold-blooded murder, the films blur the borders of victim identity. The reproachable victim is never a ‘true’ victim in these representations because it is left ambiguous as to the degree and nature of victimhood when the film focuses on agential acts such as the ones described above. Several layers of complication of victim identity might be discerned. Ahluwalia in Provoked is presented as a quivering, wide-eyed, delicately feminine woman. Phoolan is initially represented as a gutsy but waif-like girl, hardened by her constant exposure to poverty and the severely patriarchal social order in which she lives. In the former, Ahluwalia’s femininity becomes the object of suspicion when the camera tracks her husband’s jealous and annoyed expression at a party where the diminutive Ahluwalia dances with a male friend of the husband, at the husband’s insistence.The camera’s focus on the lustful and aggressively masculine faces of the men in Bandit Queen as they leer at the young Phoolan also offers us a version of the traditional Bollywood trope: femininity that attracts unwanted male attention. She represents the sexually ‘available’ woman as interpreted by the landlords, the police and even by the villagers, 181

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often slandered as promiscuous and harassed for her body. And because she leaves her marital home (she is a child-wife at the time) she is asked later whether it was because the husband could not sexually satisfy her – thus suggesting that she is insatiable and sexually aggressive. Firmly inscribed within the cultural text of femininity-as-seductive, both the films suggest that the feminine is itself an invitation to the scopophilic gaze. While the films stop short of blaming the victim by indicting the lecherous male, they do point to the risks of being feminine. Meera Kosambi has argued about Bandit Queen: Most unfortunate is the film’s romanticised construction of Phoolan as a perpetual sexual victim turned avenging bandit, and its preoccupation with her victimisation rather than with her subsequent empowerment. It leaves the viewer with the impression that the reallife figure who terrorised large parts of central India and who eluded all efforts by two State governments to capture her, was trapped in sexual exploitation and humiliation except for a brief spell when she turned into a ruthless avenger. Instead of a formidable and legendary bandit queen, we see a vulnerable woman whose pain as well as pleasure is tied up with her sexuality. (1998: unpaginated) If Bandit Queen harnesses sexuality for its purpose of creating a victim, Provoked offers femininity and maternity. A second key layer that complicates victim identity in both these celebrity cases (in real life and film) is the renovation of the feminine by the protagonists themselves. In Provoked, after being told that Ahluwalia comes from a large family desperate to get rid of their daughter through marriage – a common tale in India – we are shown how she adapts to life in England. She objects to her husband’s philandering, to which he then responds with beatings and rape. Ahluwalia’s toughening occurs, in the film version, after her conviction for murder and within the confines of the prison where she learns to stand up to bullying, acquires English and joins the informal sisterhood of inmates. By the time of the retrial Ahluwalia is presented as a fairly competent woman, far from the bewildered and delicate feminine. The film shows her standing up to a bully on behalf of a friend and acquiring a make-over (at the inmates’ insistence) before she steps out for the retrial. In Bandit Queen too, the daughter is described as a ‘burden’ in the early moments of the film but the young Phoolan is presented as a feisty kid, with an utter contempt for men, all of whom, she says, are ‘motherfuckers’. As the film proceeds Phoolan’s femininity is constantly the subject of lecherous male attention, where her fiery temper itself is seen as a sign of the not-quite-feminine by the men. Both the victims are shown toughening themselves up due to the circumstances in which they find themselves. A third dimension to the films’ troubled representations of femininity that invites the descriptor of ‘reproachable victim’ is the ambivalence cast around the stereotypical ‘shy’ and ‘modest’ Indian woman in the case of both Ahluwalia and Phoolan. Ahluwalia’s interactions with her fellow inmates enable her to shed her self-consciousness about herself while Phoolan’s training – to be a quiet wife – seems to lose its hold over her right from the first conjugal experience when she runs away from her marital home. Within the confines of the home Ahluwalia remains loyal to her training and indoctrination, pleading with her husband, obliging him, and so on. The ambivalence around this ‘good woman’ stereotype makes its first appearance in the scene where the couple visit a physician to examine injuries on Kiranjit. The physician, who is suspicious of Deepak’s (the husband) explanation for Kiranjit’s injuries – which are clearly marks of beatings – offers the victim the chance to speak out, which the ‘good wife’ refuses. The moment is interesting because a possible avenue of agency 182

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is being proposed for the victim, and the victim, in fear of her husband, refuses to opt for it. If in Phoolan’s case the altered femininity produces the subsequent events in her life, in Ahluwalia’s case it is her trial, conviction and prison experience that do so. But in both cases the ‘good’ feminine is called into question. A final layering is visible in the filmic representation of these celebrity victims. Ahluwalia and Phoolan both turn aggressors and while both are embedded in circumstances of exploitation and abuse, they commit acts of violence (in Phoolan’s case, several) and thus step outside the law. Combining the discourse of afflicted femininity with the discourse of legality, both films present the celebrity victim as reproachable, wherein her actions are explained but illegal, aggressive and violent. Both films produce the cele-meme that women’s oppression demands a response. The nature of the response is of course kept open-ended in the films: Ahluwalia pleads diminished responsibility and Phoolan surrenders to the state. Whether they were right to take to violence is something the films push us into considering, even as they indicate that the feminine can be violent too. When Phoolan beats up and tortures her former husband, she says she wants to send a message: that she would kill any man who marries a child-wife. Given that child-marriage is prohibited by law in India, Phoolan is voicing a legal doctrine, even as it is couched in a rhetoric of revenge against the man who had ‘consummated’ his marriage to her when she was still a child. The propaganda against child-marriage itself is a cele-meme: an idea, ideal and opinion regarding the marriageable age for boys and girls. Bandit Queen goes some way to explain her unlawful violence by showing her as an advocate for the law of the land and the rights of the girl child. The reproachable victim asserts a certain agency in choosing to kill her abuser(s) in both films. Yet the films remain ambivalent about this agency because the women are shown as coerced into making this choice, given that there is no social recognition of what they have endured. For instance, in Bandit Queen, when Phoolan returns to the village where she was raped, stripped in public and humiliated, the rest of her gang suggest that the women and children be spared. Her retort, practically hissed out, goes:  ‘they stood by and watched me being humiliated and dishonoured, didn’t they?’ Provoked too addresses the issue of determined agency by underscoring the absence of social empathy for Ahluwalia’s cause. For instance, Nandita Das in the film tells Ahluwalia in prison that her defence lawyer had not done a good job of highlighting the history of Ahluwalia’s abuse, and so the jury did not quite understand the situation in which she committed the act. In the absence of a social narrative about rape victims and abused wives, the films suggest, the theme of individual agency needs to be tempered so that we can better locate it within a frame of coerced agency. For the cele-meme to be powerful, and perhaps carry the seeds of social transformation, these films explicitly take the affective route when representing the victim. Underscoring the maternal woman, Provoked has Ahluwalia tearfully asking for her children at her interrogation. In Bandit Queen, Phoolan Devi’s terms of surrender, read out in a voiceover in the film, asks for land for her family and protection for them, among other demands. Enunciated in a teary voice, breaking with emotion, the charter of demands generates powerful empathy, as the movie’s narrative strategy suggests: soon after the list is read out the crowd starts chanting her name, almost as though they have been moved by the contents of the list. Thus the reproachable victim retrieves a measure of femininity by highlighting the maternal and ‘softer’ side of her personality with such pleas and requests. The mobilization of public sentiment, as Provoked clearly demonstrates in one scene where the campaigner Nandita Das takes photographs of Ahluwalia meeting her children in prison, hinges on the victim’s display of her emotional side, and implicitly effacing her agential act of aggression. 183

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With the shift to the affective, the film constructs a reproachable victim who is not yet beyond hope, or redemption, given that despite her murderous rage (both Ahluwalia and Phoolan are killers), she remains prone to emotional stresses and strains around her family. This effaces the intentionality behind the victim’s actions and instead presents a supremely emotional person, but also locates the extreme act of agency within a social context of indifference, patriarchy, caste and oppression against women. The films generate the cele-meme around empowerment by offering troubled maternity, femininity and sexuality, as embodied in Ahluwalia and Phoolan. By using the trope of the vulnerable woman in the case of these celebrity victims the films implicitly gesture at the need for rethinking women’s lives, but cannot escape the normative representation of the sexual-maternal woman. What is constantly at stake in both these films about celebrity victims is the woman’s embodied agency, and an embodiment that focuses primarily on sexual and maternal processes/ characteristics.

The therapeutic victim If Ahluwalia and Phoolan represent the reproachable victim whose assertion of agency complicates her femininity, Jessica Lal and Bhanwari Devi represent a different kind of celebrity victim, a therapeutic one. Survivor victims such as Bhanwari Devi and the ones who survive victims like Jessica – in the film, it is her sister and the family – are points of departure for a public feelings project demanding change. In Bawandar and No One Killed Jessica, the troubled femininity of the soon-to-be-victim protagonist is partly the result of the agency she asserts. Saanvari Devi, the protagonist of Bawandar, takes up the job of a ‘Saathin’, meaning friend. She is a friend to the women of her village but, more importantly, leads the campaign for women’s rights and against child marriages. Things begin to turn ugly when, as a result of her actions, the police stop a child-marriage in an uppercaste home. The gang-rape and beatings of Saanvari Devi are the result. Jessica Lal is shot dead for denying a rich young man a drink at a party bar. She stands by the rule that the bar is now closed, and is shot by the furious man. In a flashback sequence her sister recalls how Jessica had run after a man who had groped her (the sister) and beaten him in public. The films present a militant femininity in both cases. Militant femininity in the case of the celebrity victim, as the movies represent them, is a femininity that is located in principles, directives and the law. Women assert their agency in terms of the principles they fight for: the law in the case of Saanvari Devi, the closure of alcohol retailing hours in the case of Jessica. The women adhere to a set of normative practices despite social opposition and this positions the women ‘agents’ as being located within the ambit of politicallegal citizenship but outside the social-civic one. Thus, both Jessica and Saanvari Devi serve as models of the ‘good’ victim because they are penalized for following laws. Their political and legal citizenship is at odds with the social citizenship they occupy. In the case of Jessica she goes against the socially acceptable behaviour of being flexible about the bar’s working hours. The man offers her Rs 1000/- for a drink, and assumes that the money would motivate Jessica to break the rules. In the case of Saanvari Devi, she is warned by various elders of the community that she is interfering in the social norms of the village, even though these norms might be in defiance of the law of the land. Given this tension between political-legal citizenship and social-civic citizenship, the celebrity victim is one who is unable to reconcile the two. The agency asserted in opting for the former rather than acquiescence to the latter sets them up against the civic society they inhabit, and which the law of the land is unable to alter in any significant manner. The victim is one 184

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who abides by one set of laws but in the process defies another. It is a form of militant femininity because the victim readies herself for battle in defence of the political-legal citizenship she occupies, and militates against the social-civic one. It is this tension that generates the therapeutic victim. Adherence to laws and insertion into the political-legal citizenship render the woman vulnerable.The campaigns around Jessica and Bhanwari Devi in real life called attention to the fragility of the witness, the law-abiding woman and the solitary hero who, despite social odds, seeks to stand by the principles laid down as normative legislation. Since vulnerability becomes structural helplessness when the institutions designed to protect persons themselves collapse, the JessicaBhanwari Devi victimhood proceeds from the collapse of the institution of the law.The law does not protect Bhanwari, neither does the medical profession, in the immediate aftermath of the rape. The police mock and threaten her, the medical officer claims the physical ‘verification’ of rape will be conducted by a male doctor. In the Jessica case the law demonstrates its ineffectual nature when witness after witness turns hostile. The victim and/or survivor battle on seeking justice from the very institutions that have produced her vulnerability.The victim is cast as therapeutic because, beyond the justice to be granted to her as victim, the films call for a cure for the institutions themselves. That is, in the process of granting justice to the victim, the films propose that it is the institutions that need to be strengthened. Therefore the films use the victim’s case as an instantiation of the diseased system: she becomes a metonym for a larger erosion of values, principles and laws. That it is the feminine which serves as a metonym is troubling in and of itself, because yet again it reinstates the woman’s body upon which any form of social grievance and violence might be visited. James Dawes has proposed that Human Rights fiction is characterized by this metonymy: where one individual stands for many (2007). Both the Bawandar and No One Killed Jessica films indicate that Jessica’s and Saanvari’s stories signify a larger social condition.While Jessica and Saanvari Devi serve as exemplar metonyms the films drag our attention to the contexts in which freethinking agential women are reduced to helplessness. Therefore the therapeutic victim is the victim of a social evil, and requires redress not as an individual, but for what she represents: a value, an idea, a law. The therapeutic victim imbricates the corporeal vulnerability of herself and the social vulnerability of the body-politic. For instance, in No One Killed Jessica the campaign around the acquittal of the suspects emphasizes that sisters and daughters across the country are at risk and ‘Justice for Jessica’ (the name of the campaign) ensures that her corporeal vulnerability is treated as intercorporeal: the vulnerability of all women because the body-politic is flawed. If social evils and injustices are inscribed primarily on the woman’s body, the subsequent cures begin with the restoration of justice, dignity and rights to the woman’s body. When Saanvari Devi refuses to be silent or silenced about her rape, she presents her traumatized, broken body to the world; she makes a spectacle of an injury so as to draw attention to the contexts in which the woman’s body can be injured with impunity. The therapeutic victim generates a key cele-meme that links the socially induced helplessness of the vulnerable woman and the necessity for social resilience. The campaigns led by Saanvari Devi in Bawandar and by those affected by Jessica’s death call for recovery from this kind of violence by proposing that recovery and renewal of the social order disrupted by violence should involve a transformation of ways of being rather than a restoration of the way things were. The campaigns clearly indict the social order and the law, in addition to patriarchy and class structures, that inhibit being, especially for women. I propose that the cele-meme articulated in these films with their emphasis on transformation of ways of being is about interdependency as the foundation of true being. Both films call for an investment 185

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in the structures that enable us to live, for instance the institution of the law. Further, this investment, the films suggest, is a collective enterprise because the victim is fungible: ‘it could be your daughter tomorrow’, as a character in No One Killed Jessica puts it. These films envisage the transformation of India into a political community alert to its own fragility but whose epicentre lies in the damaged body of the woman protagonist. That the campaigns in No One Killed Jessica hold up placards with Jessica’s photograph suggest this centring. The victim is a therapeutic victim because her injury is the agent of campaigns, activism and legal reform.

Moral icons, the cele-meme and heteropathic empathy The four victims on whose lives the films were made represent, therefore, variant models of femininity and victimhood. Subsequent debates in India about women-victims have appropriated these models: the provocative, ‘loose’, club-hopping woman who is raped (the Kolkata 2012 rape case), rape as a problem of ‘rural’ India alone (Badaun rape case 2014), women who go out of the safety of their homes late at night (the New Delhi December 2012 rape case), among others. Thus, the ‘character’ and behaviour of the victim have been centre-stage in the debate around women’s safety and women’s rights in contemporary India and the implicit categories of ‘good victim’ and ‘bad victim’ have been rehearsed endlessly. There is no campaign or public discourse that does not, at some point, invoke one or other category of victimhood. My point here is, however, slightly different: the victim catalyses a specific idea, of rights, safety and dignity for women. Whether these victims are ‘good’ or ‘bad’, they eventually acquire the status of moral icons that then produce the cele-meme of social reform. The celebrity victim functions as a moral icon in contemporary social and political discourses as represented in the films. I adapt Vicky Goldberg’s idea of a ‘secular icon’: I take secular icons to be representations that inspire some degree of awe—perhaps mixed with dread, compassion, or aspiration—and that stand for an epoch or a system of beliefs. Although photographs easily acquire symbolic significance, they are not merely symbolic, they do not merely allude to something outside themselves … for photographs intensely and specifically represent their subjects. But the images I think of as icons almost instantly acquired symbolic overtones and larger frames of reference that endowed them with national or even worldwide significance. They concentrate the hopes and fears of millions and provide an instant and effortless connection to some deeply meaningful moment in history. They seem to summarize such complex phenomena as the powers of the human spirit or of universal destruction. (in Brink 2000: 136–137) Phoolan Devi, Bhanwari Devi, Kiranjit Ahluwalia and Jessica Lal become moral icons through the victimhood perpetrated upon them when the social codes and institutional processes break down or turn predators. Moral icons, alongside the awe, compassion and aspiration, also inspire anger and the urgency toward transformative politics.They represent the need for an underlying moral code to legislation and legal processes but also to social norms. They also emerge as moral icons because their victimhood ‘concentrates’, as Goldberg puts it, the despair, disappointment and desperation of ‘millions’ and offer an ‘instant and effortless connection’ to a larger meaning. This connection is effected through an affective sociality that returns us once again to the family. The man watching the news on television about the Jessica murder in No One Killed Jessica turns to look at his daughter leaving the house, and his anxiety about her well-being is writ 186

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large on his face. In Bawandar parents, especially mothers, look at and draw their children into the home when the crisis erupts over the rape. At the public humiliation of Phoolan Devi, the villagers pull their children indoors in Bandit Queen. The celebrity victim in the films first and foremost provokes an alertness and awareness around their loved ones. Writing about ‘attachment figures’ in the wake of celebrity deaths Didier Courbet and Marie-Pierre Fourquet-Courbet argue that when individuals hear of celebrity deaths, their attention turns to their loved ones. The death ‘also meant the loss of the attachment figure from the micro-social environment’ and the ‘fans were afraid of losing the attachment figure’ (2014:  279–280). Watching the drama unfold around a woman, a nation watches its children, daughters and sisters. The distant suffering of celebrity victims generates an intense inwardness, where families look at themselves. Indeed it could be argued that it is the attachment to their loved ones that is amplified with the victim’s story and, conversely, bestowing celebrityhood upon the victim through the fungibility process described above. When the spectators and masses look at the celebrity victim – masses within the diegetic space of the film as well as masses viewing the film – they are also forced to turn toward their loved ones, generating a heteropathic empathy. Heteropathic empathy resists identification with the other, and is defined as an ‘affective relation, rapport or bond with the other recognised and respected as such’ (LaCapra 2001: 212–213). Such heteropathic empathy retains difference but acknowledges similarities of the Other to oneself. The films, by highlighting the abused and assaulted bodies of the victims, generate heteropathic empathy through the heightening of our sense of shared corporeal vulnerability. Phoolan’s bruised and public shaming, Ahluwalia’s bruises, Saanvari’s unsteady walk after her rape and Jessica’s head-splattering blood ensure that the senses most alerted and active are the tactile ones primarily because of the state of the assaulted bodies. In each of these films the camera lingers on the expression on the faces of eyewitnesses to these victims’ sufferings: the villagers in Bandit Queen and Bawandar, the doctor and the lawyer who examine Ahluwalia in Provoked and the eyewitnesses to her murder in No One Killed Jessica. We, watching the films, bear witness to the horrified eyewitnesses. We bear witness to this affective bind that brings together the victim and the eyewitness on the screen, and thus triangulate a relation: victim, eyewitness, we-who-bear-witness. As cultural texts the films record this circulation of affective energy of compassion and angered impotence that then defines individuals as well as the collective. The dual movement of looking at the victim and at the loved ones both within the cinema’s diegetic space and outside, among the audience, informed by the inherent fungibility of victimhood, is also determined by the iterable nature of a Phoolan, an Ahluwalia or a Jessica.This iterability highlighted throughout these films, especially by treating the victims as metonyms, ensures that we affiliate with the victims in affective and moral terms: because we come to see that these things ought not to have happened to this other person. A moral icon enables the making of a social imaginary around even abstract concepts such as justice. Moral icons are technologies through which our perceptions of ourselves are organized.They cease, in many ways, to be persons and instead serve as catalysts for this reason. They force us to make inferences (as icons traditionally do) from what we see unfolding before us. Thus No One Killed Jessica highlights the necessity of a visual discourse that bombards people with the idea of injustice, whereas Provoked, which also depicts the campaigners making use of visual texts as noted above, alerts us to the limitations of legal diagnostics of violence against women. What emerges from these films is not the iconicity of a Phoolan or a Jessica, but the iterable iconicity of a set of ideas about justice and equality, women’s rights and transformative politics. The films may have treated these as singular victims but they constantly bring us back to the 187

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structures within which victimhood is engendered.The iterability of Phoolan Devi (rape-victimturned-vigilante/dacoit), Kiranjit Ahluwalia (battered-woman-turned-murderer), Bhanwari Devi (rape-victim-turned-activist) and Jessica (murder-victim-as-social-victim) relocates them into a space where laws that ought to protect do not. Writing about icons and brands Celia Lury has argued that ‘the relation between an icon and its ground of abstraction is increasingly subject to intervention’ (2012: 255). When it comes to the moral icon, such as a Phoolan or an Ahluwalia, the abstraction which it engenders (justice, empowerment, equality) calls for intervention. This is a moral iconicity that engages the social imaginary to intervene on behalf of the icon by not only iterating it but also forcing the linkage between the icon and the systems of meaning-making such as the law. Thus, the moral icon in the films is a call to action and an idea that requires execution. This idea is the cele-meme. The moral icon enables the convergence of pre-existing motivations and aspirations. The cele-meme emerges when the moral icon as the ‘face’ of this convergence brings collectives together around these pre-existing motivations. The celebrity ecology I  outlined in the first section is this ecology of motivations, thinking about women’s rights and putative forms of empowerment and equality that, when given the face of a Bhanwari Devi or a Jessica or even a Phoolan, enables the visible enunciation of the cele-meme. The cele-meme in contemporary India is what drives collectives to gather in protest on various women’s issues  – whether it is the praise for Phoolan’s militancy (by Mayawati, the then Dalit Chief Minister of Uttar Pradesh) or the massive social media campaigns for Jessica Lal’s murderer to be brought to justice or the nation-wide protests over the 2012 rape.The celememe, here and elsewhere (for instance, in sports), needs to be explored because popular culture is a domain in which larger social issues, problems and possible solutions, and even theoretical and philosophical disputes emerge. The cele-meme represents collective aspirations, and collective despair, of a nation. It serves as cultural instruction and frame of interpretation for various woman-centred issues, including the representation of women in popular Hindi cinema. That the meme acquires celebritydom due to its origins in a woman’s victimhood is of course tragic. Yet, because memes are constitutive of social and cultural evolution, this cele-meme of women’s empowerment has enabled the evolution of Indian laws, however slowly and incrementally and perhaps not with adequate effect or efficacy.The cele-meme of women’s safety and empowerment, albeit elitist and so far urban-centred, is therefore actionable. It is an idea that demands enforcement. It informs the social imaginary in ways that focus on the imminent vulnerability of women in India and Indian families. The cele-meme is a transmissible idea whose assertion in various cultural texts demands action.

References Apurva. 2010. Sexual harassment in the workplace. The Indian Express. http://archive.indianexpress.com/ news/sexualharassmentatworkplace/571636/ (accessed 22 October 2015). Bose, N. 2014. “Bollywood’s fourth Khan”: Deconstructing the “hatke” stardom of Vidya Balan in popular Hindi cinema. Celebrity Studies, 5(4): 394–409. Brink, C. 2000. Secular icons: Looking at photographs from Nazi concentration camps. History & Memory, 12(1): 135–150. Courbet, D., and Fourquet-Courbet, M.-P. 2014.When a celebrity dies … Social identity, uses of social media, and the mourning process among fans: The case of Michael Jackson. Celebrity Studies, 5(3): 275–290. Dawes, J. 2007. That the World May Know: Bearing witness to atrocity. Cambridge, MA: Harvard Univ. Press. Dickey, S. 2001. Opposing faces: Film star fan clubs and the construction of class identities in south India. In R. Dwyer and C. Pinney (eds), Pleasure and the Nation: The history, politics and consumption of public culture in India (pp. 213–246). New York: Oxford Univ. Press. 188

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Dwyer, R., and Patel, D. 2002. Cinema India: The visual culture of Hindi cinema. London: Reaktion. Ghosh, T. 2013. Bollywood Baddies: Villains, vamps and henchmen in Hindi cinema. New Delhi: Sage. Gupta, S. 2015. Kahaani, Gulaab Gang and Queen: Remaking the queens of Bollywood. South Asian Popular Culture, 13(2): 107–123. Jacob, P. 2008. Celluloid Deities:  The visual culture of cinema and politics in south India. Lanham, MD: Lexington. Jacobsen, C.M., and Skilbrei, M.-L. 2010. ‘Reproachable victims’? Representations and self-representations of Russian women involved in transnational prostitution. Ethnos, 75(2): 190–212. Kapur, G. 1987. Mythic material in Indian cinema. Journal of Arts and Ideas, 14(15): 79–108. Kazmi, F. 2010. Sex in Cinema: A history of female sexuality in Indian films. New Delhi: Rupa. Kosambi, M. 1998. Bandit Queen through Indian eyes: The reconstructions and reincarnations of Phoolan Devi. Hecate, 24(2). La Capra, D. 2001. Writing History,Writing Trauma. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins Univ. Press. Lury, C. 2012. Bringing the world into the world:  The material semiotics of contemporary culture. Distinktion, 13(3): 247–260. Mathur, K. 1992. Bhateri rape case: Backlash and protest. Economic and Political Weekly, 27(41): 2221–2224. Murty, M. 2009. Reading the perplexing figure of the “Bandit Queen”: Interpellation, resistance and opacity. Third Space, 9(1). Nayar, P.K. 2009. Seeing Stars: Spectacle, society and celebrity culture. New Delhi: Sage. Nayar, P.K. 2016. Brand Bollywood care:  Celebrity, charity, and vernacular cosmopolitanism. In P.D.  Marshall  and S. Redmond (eds), A Companion to Celebrity (pp. 273–288). Malden, MA: Wiley-Blackwell. Prasad, M.M. 1998. Ideology of the Hindi Film: A historical construction. Delhi: Oxford Univ. Press. Rogers, M. 2011. From the sacred to the performative: Tamil film star fan clubs, religious devotion and the material culture of film star portraits. Journal of Religion and Popular Culture, 23(1): 40–52. Sengupta, S. 2006. Acquittal in killing unleashes ire at India’s rich. The New York Times, 13 March. www. nytimes.com/2006/03/13/international/asia/13india.html?_r=0 (accessed 22 October 2015). Srinivas, S.V. 2009. Megastar:  Chiranjeevi and Telugu cinema after NT Rama Rao. New Delhi:  Oxford Univ. Press. Sunder Rajan, R. 2003. The Scandal of the State: Women, law, and citizenship in postcolonial India. Durham, NC: Duke Univ. Press. Taylor, W. 2003 Penetrating gazes:  The poetics of sigh and visual display in popular Indian cinema. In S.  Ramaswamy (ed.), Beyond Appearances? Visual practices and ideologies in modern India (pp. 297–322). New Delhi: Sage. Tyson, D. 2012. Sex, Culpability and the Defence of Provocation. London: Routledge.

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12 K-pop idols, artificial beauty and affective fan relationships in South Korea Joanna Elfving-Hwang

This chapter discusses the K-pop celebrity idol and parasocial interaction between idols and fans, concentrating specifically on the position of the idol as a ‘parasocial kin’ in contemporary South Korean (hereafter, Korean) society. I argue that the position that the celebrity (and the manufactured idol in particular) occupies in the contemporary Korean mediascape makes them an object of both consumption and parasocial interaction in ways that construct the celebrity as an imagined ‘parasocial kin’. In other words, rather than simply functioning as an ‘idealised other’ to simply imitate or copy, the position of the celebrity idol constructs her or him simultaneously as an object of adulation and familial affection. Existing studies on celebrity cultures in Korea are typically very critical of celebrities as commercialised and manufactured objects of consumption – not to mention of patriarchal gaze – and therefore lacking in artistic or individual substance. The constructed and heavily commercialised nature of the K-pop idol requires a rethink as to what the impact of such manufactured cultural objects might be, particularly on the younger fans who establish and display parasocial attachment to and sometimes extreme identification processes with their significant idol. Yet the significant social function the K-pop idols as ‘parasocial kin’ construct for fans in Korea has been surprisingly little studied, albeit with some significant exceptions which this chapter will highlight. Perhaps because of the lack of in-depth studies on social relationships surrounding the celebrity idol in Korea, many existing studies see affective parasocial relationships as having a negative social impact on the Korean youth, be it as worrying examples of extreme cosmetic surgery makeovers and unattainable body image, or because of reports of so-called ‘copy-cat suicides’ following celebrity suicides, which have been attributed to extreme forms of identification with the deceased idol. In this chapter I  argue that contemporary K-pop celebrity in particular deserves a close sociological study particularly because of the way in which idol/fan relationships are consumed and conceptualised in the familial framework in which the idol is positioned as an ‘older sibling’ and ‘parasocial kin’. Rather than presenting an impossible object of affection to be gazed at from afar, both the K-pop entertainment management companies’ structured engagement with the fans, which pointedly taps into the economic benefits of fostering parasocial relationships, and the very manufactured nature of the celebrity both demystify the celebrity and provide examples of successful living in the world for the teenage fan. I will illustrate this by highlighting on the very open way in which the celebrities’ self-transformations are documented and shared with the 190

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fans (including details of cosmetic surgery and training programmes), which most fans interpret as a form of positive and rational somatic entrepreneurship for the celebrity in question. The appeal of the celebrity is found in the potential for realising the upward social mobility that the celebrity appears to embody, as well as the access to fan groups off- and online that provides group identification and a sense of belonging in the increasingly fragmented and competitive social world of teenagers in particular. Finally, this chapter concludes with a discussion of idol appearances, cosmetic surgery and presentation of self. While it can be said that celebrities on the one hand normalise various technologies of the body such as cosmetic surgery (Blum 2003; Bordo 2003), I argue that because of the way in which ‘K-pop beauty’ is constructed as specific to ‘idol appearance’, moral panic about K-pop fans’ presumed inability to resist the surgeon’s knife to emulate celebrity bodies may in fact be somewhat overstated because it overlooks wider social discourses that pertain to the body and self-presentation in Korea.

K-pop and popular culture in South Korea Even for those less familiar with Asian popular culture, the rapid emergence of K-pop as a transnational fan phenomenon has been difficult to miss. As Korean television series and popular music have gained solid and enthusiastic fan bases outside the domestic borders in Asia, Hallyu (Korean Wave) Studies has emerged as a nascent area of critical enquiry. Given the meteoric rise of K-pop seemingly out of nowhere since the late 1990s, much of the research to date has focused on how Korean music production companies have succeeded in ‘manufacturing’ internationally successful K-pop bands that appeal to audiences beyond Asia. Explanations for such have been attributed to government support (Shim 2006; Oh 2013; Kwon and Kim 2013), the ‘star manufacturing system’, which systematically produces and distributes individual artists into carefully designed idols and idol groups aimed at specific fan markets (Kim 2011; Park 2013), internationally sourced catchy tunes and choreographies that appeal to a wide audience inside and outside Korea (Shin 2009; Choi and Maliangkay 2014), and effective engagement with SMS-based applications and television programmes that allow new acts to reach new markets effectively (Jung and Shim, 2014; Oh and Lee 2013). Given the success of Korean popular culture as a profitable cultural export and a tool for cultural diplomacy by the South Korean government, Korean popular culture is increasingly of interest to political scientists as a form of soft power and cultural diplomacy (Otmazgin 2011; Elfving-Hwang 2013), and how this links to the strategic construction of a contemporary and ‘dynamic’ national identity (Fuhr 2015). As K-pop idols have been co-opted in Korea’s nation-building agenda on the global stage as ‘cultural ambassadors’ and merchants of the new ‘Korean cool’ (Epstein 2014), the appropriateness of using commercialised cultural products driven essentially by market forces as representative of ‘Korean culture’ has been questioned (Otmazgin 2011; Kim 2011). Given the highly visual nature of K-pop, the bodies of K-pop idols and the highly sexualised performances of the idol bands have attracted feminist criticisms, which have located the rise of K-pop and its appeal to a rearticulation of neoliberalism and postfeminist body politics in ways that have undercut some of the gains made by Korean feminist movements in recent decades (Kim 2011; Saeji 2013; Epstein and Joo 2012). K-pop and idols have therefore emerged as a increasingly significant area of interest to a broad range of academic disciplines, especially because of the prevalence and visual presence of the idols in the everyday mediascape. In Korea, celebrity news is not simply the stuff of gossip magazines, but often front page news. While the ‘Hallyu Studies’ have therefore produced a significant number of publications in a relatively short period and particularly in relation to K-pop fandom outside Korea, the K-pop celebrity studies focusing on domestic fans are still less studied. The contemporary K-pop idol 191

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management structures and fan cultures surrounding the idols are a relatively new phenomenon in Korea, even if celebrities and popular singers have been around much longer in formations not dissimilar to modern idol groups (Maliangkay 2014). In Korea the production of contemporary K-pop idols was foregrounded by the rise of an affluent middle class and the rapid democratisation of the society since the first democratic elections in 1987, which allowed for the easing of previously strong moral expectations put on celebrities by the state. The election of President Kim Young Sam in 1992 eased, if not entirely ended, years of political interference and censorship of popular culture which had marked much of the Korean popular culture scene since General Park Chung-hee’s military coup in 1960. During the Park regime (1961–1979), public intellectuals and popular artists were frequently under government scrutiny, and were expected to toe the government line in promoting anti-communist and nationalist cultural politics. Consequently, during this period popular artists and actors were incorporated in the government’s project of building ideal law-abiding citizens, and were expected to adhere to strict government expectations of ‘proper’ behaviour or face the consequences of any improper action in ways that left very little wiggle room for acts that were seen to disrupt public morals (Shin 2009). As the government relaxed control over cultural content during President Kim Young Sam’s administration (1992–1997), the arrival of new globalised musical styles (such as rap, hip-hop and dance music), new forms of talent (t’allŏnt’ŭ) management systems as well as individual talents such as Seo Taeji and Boys heralded ‘the era of teenage idol stardom’ (Maliangkay 2014 308). The highly commercialised and internationally successful K-pop acts emerged in the aftermath of the Asian financial crisis in 1997 that forced number of industries including entertainment industries to look for new income revenues. New entertainment companies such as Lee Soo-man’s SM Entertainment began to approach celebrity management akin to a carefully thought-out product management cycle and a production line with the aim of producing cultural content appealing to specific segments of the youth market with disposable income. SM Entertainment was the first management company to approach the promotion of idol celebrities in the form of a full production cycle: it oversaw the scouting, auditioning, training, styling, producing and managing of the first internationally successful boyband H.O.T. (Hifive of Teenagers) with the release of their single ‘Candy’ in 1996 (Russell 2008). This format soon became the ‘blueprint’ to characterise successful production of K-pop idols as cultural consumables for specifically targeted market segments. Linked to this, the Korean government supported exports of Korean cultural content by providing access to preferential loans as well as creating a favourable regulatory framework for cultural exports. The government’s support was driven by a vision both to promote an image of Korea overseas as a creative and vibrant economy as well as to tap into new markets in Asia and beyond (Fuhr 2015). As early idol bands such as H.O.T., S.E.S. and Shinhwa gained popularity not only in domestic markets but across Asia, the production companies behind these acts created a formula for K-pop as an identifiable cultural product, and a highly hybridised musical genre that appeals to wider audiences both in Korea and abroad. Central to K-pop is both its global musical appeal and its highly produced sound, but even more so is its visual impact and presentation. Fuhr describes K-pop as ‘a thoroughly hybridised product, a unique coalescence of music, visuals, lyrics, dance and fashion, a postmodern product of pastiche and parody, a carnivalesque celebration of difference, a shiny world of escapism, and a highly participatory cultural practice enacted through digital media’ (2015: 10). That said, the social significance of K-pop’s production, consumption, circulation, as well as the parasocial relationships between fans and idols make Korean celebrity studies an important part of popular studies and sociology more broadly, and in particular because of the idols’ visual presence in 192

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contemporary Korean youth culture.What defines both the popularity and uptake of idol celebrity culture in Korea is the way in which many groups – such as Super Junior, SHINee, Big Bang, TVXQ, Girls Generation and the recently disbanded Wonder Girls and 2NE1 – have managed to maintain their popularity by cultivating a broad audience and loyal fan bases who are highly involved and psychologically attached to their preferred idols. Both the large numbers of fans involved in online and offline engagement and the highly affective parasocial dimension that characterises K-pop idol fan cultures suggest that fanship forms a significant social identity for a significant section of Korean youth in their teens.

The idol system Central to the popularity of the K-pop idol as a lasting cultural product lies the cultivation of parasocial relationships, and the participatory cultural practice that K-pop fandom relies on. Creation of a K-pop idol group relies on sourcing and managing suitable talent, but also on finding the ‘magic formula’ that results in a consumable product that resonates with as broad an audience as possible (Kim 2011). Reflecting on the lasting popularity of perhaps one of Korea’s most prominent girl bands, Girls Generation, Epstein observes that ‘the band is embedded in overlapping webs of relentlessly mediated top-down promotion and bottom-up interpretations that allow them to be deployed as a vehicle reflecting a variety of interests and desires’ (2014: 36). The K-pop idols’ cultural ambiguity and global appeal are also attractive to local fans, who are well aware (and even proud) of the idols’ international success and their role as cultural ambassadors of the ‘Korean cool’. For many it also validates fanship of Korean idols as modern and mainstream. When thinking about the ‘production cycle’ of the idol, a distinction is often made between ‘talents’ and ‘idols’. Celebrities of all kinds (TV personalities, sports stars appearing in light entertainment shows, solo artists and so forth) in Korea are typically referred to as ‘talents’, whereas the idol system is used to refer to the ‘trainee system’ adopted by management companies, which audition potential future idols in their early teens, and recruits them in their comprehensive training programmes. The ‘trainees’ undergo intensive training regimes which include dance and singing lessons, stage coaching, and foreign language lessons. Those not talented or committed enough are dropped by the entertainment management companies, but the few who remain eventually live in the company-owned dormitories and are expected to lead a highly regimented and panoptic lifestyle in order to ‘graduate’ into one of the management company’s many idol groups (Turnbull 2017; Park 2013). The ‘trainee’ idols are not usually allowed to date, and their daily routines are heavily regimented to ensure both the maintenance of optimal performance in terms of dance choreographies, and the display of a desirable and visually pleasing body. The rules regulating their everyday routines involve fitness classes and special diets, and in some instances cosmetic surgical procedures. Consequently, idol groups are not necessarily made of the most talented members, but rather those who have survived the gruelling ‘trainee system’. Once chosen for a group, the construction of each idol’s public persona involves a discursive regime of creating a suitable narrative and characteristics that come to define each idol and their function in the group. Given that most of the ‘trainees’ join these programmes in their early teens, one can only hypothesise as to what damage such a regimental and hectic lifestyle, removed from mainstream society, can inflict on the trainees. While the celebrity industry utilises media to manufacture and commodify the individual celebrity as an object of consumption in ways similar to elsewhere in the global North (Turner 2004: 4), the Korean idol system takes the media engagement to the extreme and relies on the idol never dropping the 193

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façade of performing the ‘role’ assigned to her or him within the group. In other words, being an idol requires the artist never to drop out of character. Consistency between the consumer of media images and the idol as a cultural consumable is constructed and preserved through careful management of stage characteristics (be it sassy, sexy or shy), which are maintained in public appearances in fan meets and other promotional events, which can include internal events at larger corporations as well. The idols’ social media presence is carefully managed and censored where necessary, and often promotes nationalistic discourses that frame the idol as an ideal citizen representing Korea on the international stage in addition to being a desirable pop star (Fuhr 2015). Aside from direct marketing, entertainment management companies utilise various parasocial interaction avenues to cultivate real and lasting affective parasocial relationships between fans and idols. In the case of new bands, very little is left to chance in cultivating these highly affective links with the prospective fan base, with the band first releasing ‘teaser’ social media clips, where the members introduce themselves to herald the arrival of a new band and to create a sense of anticipation (sometimes akin to trailers for new television dramas). The management companies further facilitate affective relationships through organising fan meets and social media engagements and by allowing ‘behind the scenes’ video camera access to the ‘everyday life’ of the idol, and these highly orchestrated ‘glimpses’ into the idols’ lives beyond their performances on stage ‘personalise the celebrity, turning a distant figure from a stranger into a significant other’ (Rojek 2001: 52). In the run up to introducing a new band (or occasionally a new band member) the idols work to build a ‘friendly’ image, and often appear in talk shows (such as the hugely popular and long-running variety show Running Man), or take part in their own TV programmes (flyon-the-wall or talk-show types such as Real Docu Big Bang), or make appearances in popular TV dramas, weekend entertainment programmes, music programmes, fan meetings (particularly overseas), and through posting regular ‘updates’ on social media. While these shows appear to provide access to ‘behind the scenes’ and the informal ‘fun’ side of the idol or idol group in question, they are highly orchestrated and the idols stay true to their ‘role’ and function in the group designed to reinforce the ‘authenticity’ of their assigned character. Successful and inspiring K-pop celebrities engage in continuous and calculated maintenance of parasocial relationships with their fans, which typically involves the use of social media to communicate with their fans directly (Kim and Song 2016), albeit there is little doubt that events such as popular girl bands’ birthday parties, broadcast live via internet streaming services such as Naver, are little more than an orchestrated performance. However, the ‘intimate’ setting of such broadcasts and the low-key mode of delivery are utilised effectively to bridge the emotional distance between the idol and the fans without the need to meet in person. While established K-pop idols eventually find ‘real life’ partners and can demand less restrictive contracts, new acts are expected to remain single to appeal to teenage romantic fantasies. The emphasis on unmarried status highlights the youth of the celebrities and plays on markers of boyish or girlish appeal, which in turn draws on heteronormative power hierarchies:  the girly girls play on the hypersexualised, yet innocent, images of women (big eyes, long slender legs, overplaying of established gestures signifying cuteness) rather than a threatening mature female sexuality (Saeji 2013; Kim 2011). The strong and sexually mature image is reserved typically for solo artists (such as Lee Hyori and Lee Chaelin, or ‘CL’, who have sometimes been dubbed ‘the baddest females in K-pop’) whose public image plays on markers of ‘girl power’ rather than non-threatening aesthetic pleasure, sexually ambiguous dance moves and suggestive camera angles. Idols are expected to steer clear of any controversy even when the stage character is defined as ‘aggressive’. When inadvertent transgressions take place, the idols will typically make public 194

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apologies with exaggerated gestures of remorse to the fan bases (or occasionally countries) that they have been seen to offend. Most recently, an example of such was an apology for ‘having caused his fans distress’ that Choi Seung-hyun (aka T.O.P. from one of the longest-performing K-pop bands, Big Bang) after having been rushed to hospital with a suspected drug overdose in June 2017. This said, the double standards of Korean idol cultures are nothing short of breathtaking and, while idols are expected to provide an example of ‘moral guidance’ to their fans, the sexualised and commercialised nature of the marketing of girls’ bodies in K-pop is perhaps the most disturbing aspect of Korean idol culture, particularly since some female groups are marketed toward middle-aged market segments of men in their 30s and 40s. Yeran Kim has provided a nuanced reading of the very naming and identification of these so-called ‘uncle fans’ (or samchun fans) as a legitimate fan group simply ‘appreciating the pure surface of pretty [female] children’ (2011: 340). Kim goes on to argue that with ‘the pretentious reformation of the male gaze into an uncle’s familial support, the male consumption of girl bodies becomes relieved of the predictable blame for paedophiliac abnormality’ (340).The industry’s refusal to acknowledge the existence of the male gaze is disturbing as it normalises objectification of young female and male bodies. Moreover, the fan cultures in Korea have taken some very worrying turns. Extreme obsession with celebrity has also spawned the so-called sasaeng fan (‘private fan’) phenomenon, which involves lone fans stalking their favourite idols and even breaking into their property to steal ‘trophies’. More recently, other forms of celebrity harassment have involved court cases filed against male idols accusing them of sexual assaults, and frequent blackmailing cases have also been reported in national news media. While most cases have been revealed as groundless, the damage done by these accusations and their sensationalist reporting in news media has revealed how vulnerable celebrity careers are to accusations of lack of morality whether or not they turn out be groundless. Given the pressures, the number of K-pop idols who have committed suicide in recent years is alarmingly high, and reflects undoubtedly the unrelenting pressures to literally perform aesthetic and moral perfection. A number of studies have also pointed to a correlation between copy-cat suicides in the immediate post-event of a celebrity suicide, particularly among the groups from the same age and gender group (Jang et  al. 2016; Myung et  al. 2015; Chen et al. 2014).

Idols and fans as ‘parasocial kin’ So what drives this sometimes extreme form of parasocial connection between fans and idols and what is their social function, particularly for young teenagers in Korea? The celebrities are on the one hand consumed as semiotic signs which are interpreted by diverse audiences in various ways. Yet the social function of the idol goes beyond being an object of adoration and desire from afar and is characterised by the number of ways in which Korean fans display parasocial interaction characteristics in relation to the idol they admire, as well as in relation to the social groups they establish with other fans. Drawing on the original work by Horton and Wohl (1956) on the intimate bonds that develop between viewers and media personalities over extended periods, parasocial interaction provides a useful starting point to explain some of the behavioural dimensions of K-pop idol fan cultures. Auter and Palmgreen (2000) found that parasocial interaction related not simply to celebrities or TV programmes that the participants in their study were watching, but also to group identification arising from viewing similar programmes. Similarly, Korean idol fans form parasocial relationships not only with the idols that they follow, but also with other fans (occasionally completely online) in ways that have been shown to have a positive impact on the teenagers’ levels of social resilience (An et al. 2013). 195

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Parasocial interactions between fans and idols take on not simply intimate but also familial characteristics, which may account for the lasting forms of fan loyalty to idols. This ‘parasocial kinship’ is enmeshed with the way in which the society as a whole is conceived in terms of extended family networks, and offers potentially a nuanced and helpful way of understanding the positive (as well as awareness of the negative) aspects of idol/fan parasocial interaction and the role of idols in contemporary Korean youth culture. An important part of creating a sense of parasocial kinship is the various fan groups facilitated by production companies or autonomously run by spontaneous fan groups. The groups meet offline in concerts and meets, and via online fan sites, chat rooms and various forms of social news network. Moreover fanzines and fanfic (narratives where K-pop idols’ constructed stage personas are given ‘real’ lives, which the fanfic authors control) are utilised by fans to literally take part in the idol group’s or individual idol’s journey by imagining new potential narratives for their character. The often public production of the individual idol and the publicising of their ‘journey’ serve to highlight the idea that celebrity is not necessarily born out of innate, natural ‘talent’ which media industries and the management companies then mould to consumable form, and on which fans then stamp their seal of approval (or not). The appeal of the idol celebrity is found then in part in the process of making the celebrity and the aspirational ideal that anyone can become a celebrity if they are willing to put enough effort and self-sacrifice into the process (and I will return to this point later in this chapter).1 In his nuanced reading of fan protests that followed the dismissal of members of two popular K-pop bands, 2PM and Dong Bang Shin Ki (DBSK), in 2005 and 2009, Gitzen (2013) demonstrates how Korean fans are far from passive consumers of media images. Quite the contrary, the happiness and contentment of idol fans also rely on ‘the circulation of idols as happy objects’ and perceiving the fans and idols as a constructed family group that ‘accumulates affective value’ for the fans (Gitzen 2013: 26). The fans are more often than not well aware of the constructed nature of the idol groups, and even the exploitative management practices of some entertainment companies. As Gitzen illustrates by outlining the overwhelming response to what the fans perceived as the unfair dismissal of idols in 2PM and DBSK, the fans respond to their grievances with the management companies with emotional power that cannot be easily dismissed. Gitzen sees the idol on and off stage as a location for real affect: ‘concerts imbue a feeling of celebration for the cohesion of the idol family, while […] silent protest [to protect the cohesion] expel a feeling of grief, anger, loss and ultimately pain from the dissolution of the idol family’ (26–27). Gitzen’s observation of fans and idols as ‘the idol family’ and the way in which fans occasionally position themselves as ‘protectors’ of the idols against the exploitative behaviours and action of management companies offer further evidence to suggest that fans and idols form parasocial kinship groups – even if such groups may not last longer than a few years. Lee and Jung (2009) argue that idol fans are increasingly taking a position of ‘maternal protectors’ of individual idols’ rights, and recognising that the idol is not able to speak for himself or herself without fear of dismissal. Gitzen sees the actions of fans as a desire to exert influence over entertainment production companies ‘in order to recuperate their idols’, while the action itself strengthens the sense of belonging and intimacy between fans and idols and fan groups ‘during moments of resistance’ (2013: 31). However, while the fans and idols can therefore be seen to form parasocial kinship alliances, the nature of Korean fandom vis-à-vis its idols is by all means not without its problematic side. In addition to the sasaeng fans, anonymous and often vicious online fan attack and criticism of idols who are not seen to perform to the agreed character can be highly damaging to the idol in question. Conversely, the constant focus on perfection and the idols’ role in marketing ideal lifestyles and consumer products are also linked to the fans’ dissatisfaction about their own bodies. 196

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Bodies on display As the idol represents to fans an example of success to emulate, K-pop idols are similar to the Japanese idols in that they are ‘designed to contribute to the industry’s establishment in the market by virtue of their abilities to attract people and perform as lifestyle models’ (Aoyagi 2005: 3). Idols are, as expected, heavily utilised in highly effective advertising campaigns that utilise idol endorsements for various products, ranging from mobile phones, alcoholic drinks to cosmetics (Paek 2005; Turnbull 2017). As the line between the celebrity-as-a-person and the celebrity-as-a-cultural-product becomes blurred, while entertainment companies continue to cynically exploit the fans’ emotional labour and affect toward their favourite idol, one may be prompted to ask whether this means that the parasocial relationships constructed between the idol and the fan are, in fact, simply a dangerous social phenomenon that leaves particularly younger fans exposed and unable to resist the beauty ideals and lifestyle choices of the idols as potential role models. Because K-pop is so visual, it is not unusual (if not expected) that idols have had various parts of their bodies ‘enhanced’ beyond non-invasive beauty and diet regimes. The idol as an aesthetic spectacle and the necessity for the idol to remain in the public and fan gaze to ensure their continual popularity mean that they are required to maintain the appearance expected of an idol. Ideal female idols are typically slim, with smooth and baby-like yet angular facial features combined with long slender legs, which are often shown in extreme close ups in music videos (Epstein and Joo 2012).The bodies of the idols are under constant scrutiny, and many performers have openly complained about the mental and physical strain that such detailed comparison of group members’ legs, abs or other body parts places on individual idols (Epstein 2014). The idols are unquestionably placed under near impossible aesthetic expectations, and the consumeroriented sexualised and post-feminist images promoted by management companies can certainly be said to promote unrealistic body ideals (Saeji 2013; Kim 2011). While it can be argued, as Epstein and Joo do, that images of idols ‘contribute to the shaping of everyday practices and ideas around ideal bodies’ (2012: 15), I suggest here that conceptualising idol/fan relationships simply as victims of the compelling and irresistible force of cultural industries overlooks the way in which body work has been accepted as a necessary part of successful living in the contemporary world. The idol is both an example of a ‘way of appearing’ and a somatic sign of success.The beauty that they represent is never considered ‘authentic’ and yet the inauthenticity of the idol looks does not mean that the beauty work is of no consequence or importance. The idol’s body becomes a canvas on which an emerging cultural identity of neoliberal success (and sometimes failure) is inscribed.Yet the idol as a semiotic sign of the necessity to continuously ‘perform perfection’ has less to do with actual appearances, and more with the focus on neoliberal governmentality and investment in self as the most logical route to success in Korea’s highly competitive employment system. In other words, the fans are more often than not well aware of the artificial nature and performance of their favourite idols, and yet it does not necessarily follow that the fans themselves are more likely to imitate the aesthetic appearance of their favourite idols.While beauty narratives act as cultural frames that point to meaning attached to investment in oneself in creating the modern/cosmopolitan individual, I argue that the fans recognise that beauty work can also simply signify the practice of investing in oneself and continuously improving oneself to survive in the complicated and competitive market economy. In the context of Korean society, the celebrity idol thus acts as a visual reminder and a model of how the neoliberal economy works and the individual’s responsibility in it. The individual is required to subject her- or himself to constant self-improvement, body work and self-surveillance, and the idol provides advice on how to achieve that. 197

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The images of the idols mediated through the media gaze construct a post-feminist space in popular culture in which both young men’s and women’s bodies are presented as examples of success through hard work and not simply an outcome of innate talent out of reach of most fans. Reflecting this position, Epstein and Joo point to the exaggerated and overly developed physique of male idols’ abdominal muscles, which are often displayed in music videos as evidence of the idol’s commitment to gain such a near-impossibly perfect body shape. The pointed artificiality testifies, they argue, to ‘the effort required to attain [the perfect body] through hours in the gym, professional trainers, and the use of supplements, including perhaps steroids’ (2012: 5–6). It is difficult to argue that the presence of K-pop idols has no impact on contemporary aesthetic preferences, and the way in which music videos often bring the idol’s face into focus in extreme close-up frames and the translucent, smooth and ‘moist’ facial complexion of the idols have certainly been utilised by cosmetics companies to promote their products. The celebrity idol endorsements of cosmetic surgery clinics are also a feature of popular idol culture. While speculation about Western and particularly female stars’ cosmetic surgery furores has spawned a whole gossip industry of its own around before-and-after images, Korean idols are less reluctant to own up to having had cosmetic work done. Famous clinics in Apgujŏng and Sinsa now regularly utilise celebrity endorsements on their webpages, typically with images of the clinic’s director posing with the idol to showcase successful procedures. In recent years, the number of successful clinics has decreased as there are actually fewer people willing (or able) to spend on surgery. As a result, some surgeons have sought to invent new kinds of procedures and surgical fashions to entice new younger customers. Celebrities serve as the best and most effective spokespeople for new surgical fashions, and many clinics employ their services to promote new kinds of procedures. In return, the celebrities receive free surgery and treatments for their endorsement of particular clinics. Idols are often open about the stresses that maintaining a ‘perfect’ body involves, but that too can be interpreted by fans as evidence of their devotion to their social role. Consequently, there is very little condemnation of idols who choose (or occasionally are advised by their management companies) to undergo cosmetic surgery. However, while idols provide a way of ‘appearing’ in the modern world, cosmetic surgery and extraordinary beauty are equally seen as ways of performing extraordinary celebrity bodies rather than ‘normal’ bodies. Presentation of self appropriate to one’s social status and age – which for the celebrity might involve extensive surgery but for the fan not so – draws on older rules of etiquette and presentation of self which continue to inform acceptable ways of engaging with beauty and fashion. In terms of appearances, Korean society is highly codified, and ways of dressing (fashion), speech and makeup are used to immediately categorise a person’s social status, age and wealth. Cosmetic surgery comes under this category too and while ‘naturally appearing’ body enhancements are coded as evidence of investment in self, unnatural looking surgery is less acceptable as it is seen as causing social unease (Elfving-Hwang 2016). The so-called ‘cosmetic monsters’ (sŏnghyŏng gwemul) whose surgical investments have produced unintended side effects are derided not for their vanity as in gossip media in the West (Fairclough 2012), but rather for having resorted to using the services of a cheaper clinic which has resulted in aesthetic results not fitting for the idol’s character or perhaps age. While cosmetic surgery itself is not generally frowned upon, people are generally very strategic about the aesthetic choices of the kinds of surgery they choose to have. Consequently, a middle-class person would not typically choose surgery that is too obvious, and an unnatural outcome of surgery is seen as an indicator of lack of social tact or perhaps even wealth (ElfvingHwang 2016; Holliday and Elfving-Hwang 2012). In fact, large-scale surveys have found that a person’s likelihood of engaging in surgery correlates directly with their choice of employment and perceived social status, with wealthier people less likely to elect to have cosmetic surgery 198

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(Jang and Kim 2014), suggesting that there is more correlation between social class and likelihood to elect invasive beauty treatments, rather than simply media influence promoted by idols. In fact a recent study by Jun and Hwang found that the link between celebrity appearances and the likelihood of having surgery was significantly higher among US college students than among their Korean counterparts. This suggests that while the idol body undoubtedly provides “both the standard and an instrument of standardisation” (Blum 2003: 55) for youthful physical beauty in Korea, the actual uptake of such beauty treatments is much more class-specific and strategic than simply mindless imitation of one’s favourite idol. Perhaps in the same way as K-pop itself is, as Choi an Maliangkay argue, ‘augmented entertainment’ that allows fans in various global locations to consume it in their own hybrid ways (Choi and Maliangkay 2014: 5), K-pop idol beauty is consumed in equally myriad ways focusing rather on parts of the body than the idol’s appearance as a whole (cf. Elliot 2010).

Concluding thoughts This chapter has provided an overview of the idol manufacturing and management system in South Korea, and how entertainment management systems utilise parasocial relationships between fans and idols to build a loyal customer base for their cultural content delivered by idol groups.While the notion of parasocial relationships serves as a useful starting point in explaining the high level of emotional labour invested in fan activities by a significant number of Korean teenagers, conceptualising fan/idol relationships in the framework of parasocial kinship allows us to consider how familiar kinship structures are extended to evoke a real sense of connection that extends to the fans’ desire to ‘protect’ or ‘stand up for’ the idol when they feel the need to do so.While fan groups thus do possess agency by resisting what are seen as exploitative practices of entertainment management companies, they are simultaneously held hostage to, and potentially exploited by, the very same entertainment management companies as the companies can ultimately rely on the fans’ consumer loyalty because of the depth of emotion that the parasocial kinship interactions impart to the individual fan. For the fans, the idols appear as objects of admiration and of examples of successful living, making idols particularly effective avenues to promote not only new fashions but also desirable ways of living, but which can also include charitable acts (such as giving to specific charities or even adopting an abandoned pet). K-pop aesthetics are constructed as both extraordinary yet attainable to anyone willing to invest in themselves, an opportunity to mirror the idol’s life (if not success). This identification process is further enforced by a frequent and calculated series of social media posts and appearances in variety shows that are designed to allow the fans to feel part of the idol’s circle of friends. However, while idols do provide examples of successful ways to engage with various technologies of self, the kinds of body modifications and enhancements that idols undergo are coded by most fans as part of their performance as an idol, rather than an invitation to imitate. While Blum (2003) asserts that celebrity bodies are powerful in forming actual beauty ideas and of normalising the use of cosmetic surgery through the ‘transnational identifications’ that star cultures promote, Korean idol fans may not be as susceptible to taking up extreme body modifications as one might expect. The very constructed nature of the idol presents her or him as a location of desire and a ‘happy object’ for whom cosmetic surgery may be a part of their job so to speak, whereas the same may not apply to the fan. Finally, it should also be noted that the discussion in this chapter has focused primarily on K-pop idols and younger fans, and that other kinds of fan groups, such as middle-aged women and older women who consume celebrity television programmes and enjoy watching television dramas as a form of social bonding and group identification, merit a further study of their 199

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own. The meanings and practices attached to the consumption of celebrity cultures are imbued with complexities that can solicit highly emotional and affective responses from the fans, while affording them a high degree of autonomy over how to consume celebrity cultures. Extending celebrity studies in the Korean context to consider fan attachment styles and reactions to loss of parasocial relationships in the frame of parasocial kinship and extended kinship obligations may provide further useful avenues to understand the social significance of celebrity cultures in contemporary Korean society.

Note 1 The same principle has also been taken to inform full-body-makeover shows such as Let Me In (TVn) in which potential cosmetic surgery patients compete to convince a panel of surgeons, psychiatrists and beauticians to choose them as the recipient of extreme surgery. The prospective patients have to demonstrate their willingness to endure three months of isolation and a series of surgeries and diet. The process is captured by the cameras and the radical transformations made Let Me In one of the most watched cable television programmes of the mid-2010s, turning some of the winning contestants into mini-celebrities, or ‘cosmetic idols’ themselves (see Elfving-Hwang 2013).

References An, E., Kim, J., Jeun, S., and Chung., I.-J. 2013. The effect of fandom activities on resilience in adolescence in combination with gender differences. Studies on Korean Youth [in Korean], 24(2): 149–175. Aoyagi, H. 2005. Islands of Eight Million Smiles: Idol performance and symbolic production of contemporary Japan. Cambridge, MA: Harvard Univ. Asia Center. Auter, P., and Palmgreen, P. 2000. Development and validation of a parasocial interaction measure:  The audience-persona interaction scale. Communication Research Reports, 17(1): 45–56. Blum,V. 2003. Flesh Wounds. Berkeley: Univ. of California Press. Bordo, S.  2003. In the empire of images. Preface to the Tenth Anniversary Edition. Unbearable Weight. Feminism,Western culture, and the body. Berkeley: Univ. of California Press. Chen, Y., Yip, P., Chan, C., Fu, K., Chang, S., Lee, W., and Gunnell, D. 2014. The impact of a celebrity’s suicide on the introduction and establishment of a new method of suicide in South Korea. Archives of Suicide Research, 18: 221–226. Choi, J.B., and Maliangkay, R. (eds) 2014. K-pop  – The International Rise of the Korean Music Industry. Abingdon: Taylor and Francis. Chua, B.H., and Koichi Iwabuchi, K. (eds) 2008. East Asian Pop Culture:  The Korean wave. Hong Kong: Hong Kong UP. Elfving-Hwang, J. 2013. Cosmetic surgery and embodying the moral self in South Korean popular makeover culture. The Asia-Pacific Journal, 11(24), No 2. http://japanfocus.org/-Joanna-Elfving_Hwang/3956. Elfving-Hwang, J. 2016. Old, down and out? Appearance, body work and positive ageing among elderly South Korean women. Journal of Aging Studies, 38(2): 6–15. Elliot, A. 2010. ‘I want to look like that!’ Cosmetic surgery and celebrity culture’. Cultural Sociology, 5(4): 463–477. Epstein, S. 2014. ‘Into the New World’:  Girls generation from the local to the global. In J.B. Choi and R.  Maliangkay (eds), K-pop  – The International Rise of the Korean Music Industry (pp. 35–50). Abingdon: Taylor and Francis. Epstein, S., and Joo, R. 2012. Multiple exposures:  Korean bodies and the transnational imagination. The Asia-Pacific Journal, 10(33) No 1: 1–19. Fairclough, K. 2012. Nothing less than perfect: female celebrity, ageing and hyper-scrutiny in the gossip industry. Celebrity Studies, 3(1): 90–103. Fuhr, M. 2015. Globalization and Popular Music in South Korea:  Sounding out K-pop. Abingdon:  Taylor & Francis. Gitzen, T. 2013. Affective resistance: Objects of Korean popular music. IJAPS 9 (1): 5–36. Holliday, R., and Elfving-Hwang, J. 2012. Gender, globalization and aesthetic surgery in South Korea. Body and Society, 18(2): 58–81.

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Horton, D., and Wohl, R. 1956. Mass communication and para-social interaction: Observation on intimacy at a distance. Psychiatry, 19: 215–229. Jang, M., and Kim, J.-D. 2014. A study on awareness and state of cosmetic surgery. The Korean Society of Cosmetics and Cosmetology [in Korean], 4(2): 179–196. Jang, S., Sung, J., Park, J., and Jeon, W. 2016. Copycat suicide induced by entertainment celebrity suicides in South Korea. Psychiatry Investigation, 13(1): 74–80. Jung, S., and Shim, D. 2014. Social distribution: K-pop fan practices in Indonesia and the ‘Gangnam Style’ phenomenon. International Journal of Cultural Studies, 17(5): 485–501. Kim, Y. 2011. Idol republic:  The global emergence of girl industries and the commercialisation of girl bodies. Journal of Gender Studies, 20(4): 333–345. Kim, J., and Song, H. 2016. Celebrity's self-disclosure on Twitter and parasocial relationships: A mediating role of social presence. Computers in Human Behavior, 62: 570–577. Kwon, S.-H., and Kim, J. 2013. The cultural industry policies of the Korean government and the Korean Wave. International Journal of Cultural Policy, 20(4): 1–18. Lee, M.-w., and Jung, N.-y. 2009. Fandom managing stars, entertainment industry managing fandom. Media Gender and Culture [in Korean], 12: 191–281. Maliangkay, R. 2014. The popularity of individualism:  The Seo Taeji phenomenon in the 1990s. In K.H. Kim and Y. Choe (eds), The Korean Popular Culture Reader (pp. 296–313). Durham, NC: Duke UP. Myung, W., Lee, G.-H., Won, H.-H., Fava, M., Mischoulon, D., Nyer, M., et al. 2015. Paraquat prohibition and change in the suicide rate and methods in South Korea. PLoS ONE, 10(6): e0128980. doi:10.1371/ journal.pone.0128980. Oh, I. 2013. The globalization of K-pop:  Korea’s place in the global music industry. Korea Observer, 44(3): 389–409. Oh, I., and Lee, H.-J. 2013. K-pop in Korea: How the pop music industry is changing a post-developmental society. Cross-Currents:  East Asian History and Culture Review, 9 (e-journal). https://cross-currents. berkeley.edu/sites/default/files/e-journal/articles/oh_lee_0.pdf . Otmazgin, N. 2011. A tail that wags the dog? Cultural industry and cultural policy in Japan and South Korea. Journal of Comparative Policy Analysis: Research and Practice, 13(3): 307–325. Paek, H.-j. 2005. Understanding celebrity endorsers in cross-cultural contexts: A content analysis of South Korean and US newspaper advertising. Asian Journal of Communication, 15(2): 133–153. Park, G.-s. 2013. Manufacturing creativity:  production, performance and dissemination of K-pop. Korea Journal, 53(4): 14–33. Park, J., Choi, N., Kim, S., Kim, S., An, H., Lee, H., and Lee, Y. 2016. The impact of celebrity suicide on subsequent suicide rates in the general population of Korea from 1990 to 2010. Journal of Korean Medical Science, 31(4): 598–603. Rojek, C. 2001. Celebrity. London: Reaktion. Russell, M.J. 2008. Pop Goes Korea. Berkeley, CA: Stone Bridge Press. Saeji, C.T. 2013. Juvenile protection and sexual objectification:  Analysis of the performance frame in Korean music television broadcasts. Acta Koreana, 16(2): 329–365. Shim, D.  2006. Hybridity and the rise of Korean popular culture in Asia. Media, Culture and Society, 28(1): 25–44. Shin, H. 2009. Have you ever seen the rain? And who will stop the rain?: The globalizing project of Korean pop (K-pop). Inter-Asia Cultural Studies, 10(4): 507–523. Turnbull, J. 2017. Just beautiful people holding a bottle: The driving forces behind South Korea’s love of celebrity endorsement. Celebrity Studies, 8(1): 128–135. Turner, G. 2004. Understanding Celebrity. London: Sage.

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13 ‘Idols’ in Japan, Asia and the world Patrick W. Galbraith

Introduction When examining contemporary Japan, one cannot help but be struck by the prevalence of “idols” (aidoru) (Galbraith and Karlin 2012). Idols are men and women, typically in their teens and twenties, who appeal directly to fans for support. They are often presented as flawed and trying hard to improve, which endears them to audiences; flaws also make them more relatable and approachable (Aoyagi 2000: 310–313; Lukács 2010a: 46). Idols make themselves accessible to fans through live performances, small venues and special events where contact and communication are possible. The relationship between idols and fans is characterized by intimacy; fans get to know more, and come to care more, about idols. Personality and social skills are key to the success of idols, which has led to their reputation as pretty faces without much talent (Schilling 1997: 230–231), but this is not an entirely fair assessment. Idols work hard to develop and perfect personality and social skills and must be consummate professionals to reach the top of their field. Although they sing, dance, act and model, an idol’s talent lies not in singing, dancing, acting or modeling per se, but rather in “idoling”, or being an idol for fans. Idols capture and hold the attention of audiences, build and maintain relationships and move fans to make purchases of CDs, tickets, products and more. The number of idols in Japan today is said to be “the greatest in the history of Japanese entertainment” (Yomiuri Shimbun 2012). The 2010s have been dubbed the “idol warring states period” (aidoru sengoku jidai) (Okajima and Okada 2011), which brings to mind the bloody battles between warlords that ravaged Japan from the mid-1400s until 1603, when the nation was unified. “Idol warring states” is a provocative turn of phrase that suggests not only many groups in fierce competition, but also a struggle for control of Japan, which is largely a domestic affair dominated by idols. According to the Oricon charts, in 2014, seven of the top 10 bestselling albums and all of the top 10 bestselling singles in Japan were from Japanese idol groups (Oricon 2014). Sales of foreign music in Japan have been on the decline for decades (de Launey 1995; Mōri 2009). On the other hand, the domestic market appeals primarily to Japanese fans, whom producers and advertisers can count on to make purchases; although hundreds upon hundreds of idols compete for the attention, devotion and yen of Japanese fans, idols do not necessarily circulate widely beyond the nation’s shores. Suggesting that music and media have divergently 202

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evolved into diverse local forms, some critics speak of “Galapagos Japan” (Yamaguchi 2013). Japanese idols seem to be just that – a Japanese thing. This chapter focuses on discourse about idols as representative of Japanese music and media, and ultimately of “Japan” itself. Sometimes tied to celebration of Japan’s growing regional and global influence, and other times to criticism of Japan as not only different but also somehow deviant, idols open a window on to the national and international politics of celebrity.1 The chapter builds its discussion of idols across three sections, which deal with three aspects of idols. First, idols are part of a system of media and commodities that generates desire (Steinberg 2012:  42–43). This is comparable to what in North America has been called “affective economics”, or building, developing and maintaining relationships to shape desires and impact purchasing decisions (Jenkins 2006: 61–62). Idols became a notable phenomenon in Japan’s media and consumer economy in the 1970s. Second, because idols appeal to fans, they are increasingly important to production and advertising agencies loking to court audiences and consumers in fragmented markets. In Japan in the 1990s, the aggressive deployment of idols to appeal to fans led to “affective alliances” and strengthening of the national market (Lukács 2010a: 4, 23–24). Third, idols appeal not only to fans in Japan, but also to fans outside Japan. Since the 1990s, idols have been part of a regional popular culture in urban centers in East and Southeast Asia (Iwabuchi 2002: 200; also Otmazgin 2016). Further, since the 2000s, idols have been caught up in Japanese public diplomacy beyond Asia. Celebrities are not, however, created and consumed equally. The chapter concludes with a discussion of some of the limitations of Japanese idols in global circulation.

The birth of ‘idols’ in Japan “Idol”, a Japanese pronunciation of a foreign word, was popularized in Japan after the French film Cherchez l’idole was released in 1963 under the title Aidoru wo sagasu (In Search of an Idol). The word idol is mostly associated in Japan with young people who appear across multiple media platforms and genres of performance, often simultaneously; they are heavily produced and promoted. The year 1971 is remembered as “the first year of the idol era” (aidoru gannen) (Kimura 2007:  260). That year, during the Kōhaku uta gassen (Red and White Song Battle), Japan’s most watched television program, Minami Saori was introduced as a “teen idol” (tīn no aidoru). Not only did Minami sing hit songs such as “17-sai” (Seventeen), but she also appeared frequently in the media; where she went, fans followed. For example, when Minami was featured on the cover of a weekly comics magazine, it marked not only cross-media promotion, but also a convergence of readers, which increased sales (Okada 2008: 92). This points to a strategy called “media mix” (media mikkusu), which was established in Japan in the 1960s. It was not until the 1970s, however, that idols came to the fore of what Marc Steinberg calls the “mediacommodity system” (Steinberg 2012:  43). Importantly, this system generates desire for idols, who proliferate across media forms (Steinberg 2012: 42). The idol is “a technology of attraction and diffusion” and “a technology of connection” (Steinberg 2012: 45).2 Idols encourage intertextual and intimate engagement with media. (For a complementary discussion of celebrity, see Marshall 2002.) Also in 1971, idols came to be mass-produced on the television show Sutā tanjō! (Birth of a Star). A talent show where wannabes performed for producers for a chance at the big time, Sutā tanjō! suggested that anyone could be an idol. So it was that in 1972, at the age of 13,Yamaguchi Momoe applied by postcard to be on the show. Although she finished second, Yamaguchi still debuted as a professional idol. Despite early struggles,Yamaguchi went on to a legendary career: she released 32 singles, including three number one hits, and 21 albums, 203

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starred in 15 feature films and several television dramas, and appeared on Kōhaku uta gassen for seven straight years, which speaks to her popularity. Indeed, such was Yamaguchi’s popularity that her appearance in an advertising campaign for Pretz drastically increased sales of the snack food. Following from the success of Yamaguchi, an entire industry sprang up to produce, promote and profit from idols. By 1975, it was estimated that some 700 new idols had debuted in Japan (Okiyama 2007:  260) and people spoke of an “idol boom” (Aoyagi 2000: 316). The most successful of these new idols and emblematic of the boom was Pink Lady, a duo that appeared on Sutā tanjō! in 1976 and went on to release nine number one hits, five of which were consecutive million-selling singles; one single, “Chameleon Army”, was on top of the charts for an astonishing 63 weeks. Pink Lady also became commercial pitchwomen for various products – ranging from shampoo to radios to children’s books to ramen noodles  – and practically everything they endorsed enjoyed a dramatic increase in sales. The idol era was in full swing. Known as the “golden age of idols” (aidoru no ōgon jidai), the 1980s were dominated by these transmedia and cross-genre performers, but none could surpass Matsuda Seiko, who debuted in 1980 and went on to have 24 consecutive number one hits. As Yamaguchi Momoe had done with Pretz, Matsuda enjoyed a lucrative and long-term association with Pocky snacks, appearing in a series of commercials, singing songs for those commercials and successfully raising the profile of the product, her songs and herself. More than any idol before, Matsuda and her producers mastered the idol image, or the idol as image, which Matsuda (“Seiko-chan” to fans) performed and her producers sold. In this way, Matsuda became an “image commodity” (Lukács 2010a: 24, 47) connecting companies, programs, products and audiences; the circulation of the idol brought together producers and advertisers, content and commodities, audiences and consumers. While idols declined in popularity at the end of the 1980s and into the early 1990s – the “idol ice age” (aidoru hyōgaki) or “winter period of idols” (aidoru no fuyu no jidai), often attributed to discontent with their artificially, scandals and the spectacular suicide of Okada Yukiko (de Launey 1995: 209; Aoyagi 2000: 318) – idols would return with a vengeance in the 1990s, when affective economics became crucial for reconstituting fragmenting markets.

Idols, economics and politics in the 1990s The end of the Shōwa Period in Japan has come to be remembered as a watershed. In 1989, Emperor Shōwa – also known as Hirohito, who oversaw the rise of the Japanese colonial empire, its complete destruction in 1945 and Japan’s reconstruction during the postwar period – died in a protracted media spectacle that brought the nation together in mourning. That same year, icons of culture and industry such as Tezuka Osamu, Misora Hibari and Matsushita Konosuke also died. The Berlin Wall came down, signaling the end of the Cold War and a world order dominated by conflict between the United States and the Soviet Union and alliances with and against them; the future of the special relationship between Japan and the United States, which had created the conditions for miraculous postwar economic growth, seemed uncertain. The Japanese economy tanked; the Nikkei stock market index fell more than 60  percent from a high of 40,000 at the end of 1989 to under 15,000 by 1992. Fortunes were lost; layoffs became common; a generation of young people graduated from universities to find that there were no jobs for them; reforms in labor laws to make Japanese companies more globally competitive led to a massive increase in flexible, part-time and temporary employment, where many young people ended up. New diseases such as “acute social withdrawal”, which implicated the family and society, were discovered and claimed to afflict people in the millions (Saitō [1998] 2013: 3, 204

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83–89); suicides were up (Leheny 2006a:  34); birth and marriage rates were down (Allison 2013: 33–34). Such was the trauma of the 1990s that it has come to be known in Japan as the “lost decade” (ushinawareta jūnen). In this dark time of the 1990s, the successes of the Japanese music and media industries were bright spots. “J-pop” – a term originating from a Japanese radio station, where it was used to refer to Japanese music that was played alongside the foreign music to which the station was dedicated – became attractive to young Japanese. Not only was the sound “global”, but also a global Japanese sound, which allowed fans to indulge in what Mōri Yoshitaka calls “the illusion of a globalized self ” (Mōri 2009: 479). On the rising wave of J-pop, singers such as Utada Hikaru – who spoke perfect English, which she incorporated into her music, along with world beats and styles, mixed with world-class production techniques – enjoyed massive success. By the end of the 1990s, Utada’s album First Love had sold 8.53 million copies in Japan (Mōri 2009: 476). Even as J-pop rose, foreign music declined; in 1998, only 10 albums of “Western” popular music made the chart of the top 100 albums, with the highest reaching only number 18 (Mōri, 2009: 476–477).3 Writing at the time, Guy de Launey noted that musicians originating and operating outside of Japan had increasingly less of a presence in the Japanese market (de Launey 1995: 204). By de Launey’s estimation, this had less to do with taste than marketing strategies that promoted Japanese musicians in Japan (de Launey 1995: 211–222). Among the factors that de Launey identifies as contributing to the striking market dominance of Japanese music in Japan in the 1990s are television and tie-ups (de Launey 1995: 211–212, 218–219), which suggests the advantage of media exposure and the imperative to appear across media platforms and genres of performance. What de Launey has identified here is the logic of idols, who in fact rose to prominence in Japan in the late 1990s. Even as CD sales peaked in 1998 and began a steady decline in Japan, the male idol group SMAP enjoyed incredible success due to television appearances, tie-ups and near-constant media exposure. One member in particular, Kimura Takuya, was a national heartthrob who appeared in a series of so-called “trendy dramas” (torendi dorama). Explaining the success of Kimura (“Kimutaku” to fans), Gabriella Lukács argues that cross-genre and transmedia deployment of idols establishes ties between media institutions and reinforces viewer commitments (Lukács 2010a: 31). Due to multiple and simultaneous appearances, idols become dense carriers of information and are read intertextually. Fans know and care more about their idols, which leads to a viewing experience that is “intimate” (Lukács 2010a:  30). The trendy drama adds to this by focusing not on story per se, but rather on lifestyles, or the lives of idols and the characters they play; production schedules synch with the time and place of Japan now (Lukács 2010a: 40–44). All of this “makes participation in domestic media culture more pleasurable” (Lukács 2010a: 30). By placing idols at the heart of programming, Japanese broadcasters “succeeded not only in reviving a general interest in domestic televisual culture, but also in keeping transnational media out of the domestic market” (Lukács 2010a: 30). On the one hand, Japanese idol media dominated the domestic market. Trendy dramas such as Beautiful Life, which stars Kimura Takuya, reached 41.3 percent of households in Japan (Lukács 2010b: 186).4 In the 1990s, Fuji TV and TBS, the two major broadcasters associated with trendy dramas, produced more than 550 of them; a single three-month season could have 17 or more airing at once (Lukács 2010a: 44). On the other hand, production of Japanese content in Japan for Japanese audiences made little room for foreign offerings; in the 1990s, Japanese broadcasters imported only 3 percent of their content (Lukács 2010a: 33).5 Even as CD sales and ratings declined, fans, motivated by their idols, could be counted on to make purchases and tune in. It is for this reason that idols became an increasingly important part of Japanese music and media markets as they faced the challenges of global competition and media convergence (Galbraith and Karlin 2016: 6–7). In a provocative turn of phrase, Lukács 205

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draws attention to how fans organize into “affective alliances” (Lukács 2010a: 54) around their idols, which points us toward phenomena associated with affective economics such as lifestyle collectivities and brand communities (Jenkins 2006: chapter two). To build on Lukács, affective alliances are not only between fans and idols, and between fans brought together by idols, but also media producers, programs and products brought together by idols. Just as fan communities and media corporations are not always or necessarily national in character, so too are affective alliances not always or necessarily contained within the borders of the nation. In the 1990s, J-pop and trendy dramas flowed from Japan to East and Southeast Asia, which contributed to the emergence of “affective media geographies” (Lamarre 2015). Idols played a significant role in this. Looking back on the growing popularity of Japanese media in East and Southeast Asia in the 1990s, Hiroshi Aoyagi argues that idol music and television are carriers of information about “a modern, urban lifestyle that students and young working people in Asia’s upward-moving economies find attractive and relevant to their own changing lives” (Aoyagi 2000: 310; also 321–323). From his interviews, Aoyagi draws the conclusion that idols are a “brand” that speaks to “a lifestyle of urban affluence” (Aoyagi 2000: 323). Not only were Japanese idols becoming popular, but also “knowledge transfer” and “collaboration” led to Asian idols on the model of Japanese idols (Aoyagi 2000: 318–321; Iwabuchi 2002: 206–208). In a famous example, Hana yori dango (Boys Over Flowers) became not only a trendy drama and idol vehicle in Japan, but was also remade in Taiwan, South Korea, China and the Philippines, with this content circulating around East and Southeast Asia and flowing back into Japan to inspire more idol content (Lamarre 2015: 95–96). Where Aoyagi sees “Japan’s deepening engagement with the rest of Asia”, “cross-cultural affinity and influence in Asia” and “pan-Asian identity” (Aoyagi 2000: 309–310), Koichi Iwabuchi is more skeptical (Iwabuchi 2001; Iwabuchi 2002). In Recentering Globalization, Iwabuchi points out that satellite broadcasters such as Star TV were broadcasting Japanese television in Taiwan from the early 1990s,6 exports of Japanese television went up from 2,200 hours in 1971 (“the first year of the idol era”) to 19,546 hours in 1992 and the East and Southeast Asian market received almost half of the total number of Japanese television exports by 1995 (Iwabuchi 2002: 4–5, 47). The passionate consumption of idols in many parts of East and Southeast Asia led to the establishment of a government committee in Japan in 1997 (Iwabuchi 2002: 5). All of this might seem to reinforce Aoyagi’s points, but Iwabuchi raises questions about Japan’s so-called “return to Asia”, especially uneven relations and asymmetrical flows that are familiar from the days of Japanese empire (Iwabuchi 2002: 52–53, 73, 201). Indeed, much of the discourse about affective alliances in East and Southeast Asia imagines Japan displacing the United States as a new cultural center (Iwabuchi 2002: 66, 73, 201).7 Further, fans of Japanese idols in Taiwan and South Korea, former Japanese colonies, suggest the tantalizing possibility of overcoming history (Iwabuchi 2002: 53, 201). Iwabuchi elaborates: Japan’s colonial past does not prevent Japanese TV programs and pop idols from being accepted in East and Southeast Asia. Accordingly, a strong interest has emerged within Japan in the potential for Japanese popular culture to improve Japan’s reputation and soothe – even suppress – the bitter memory of the Japanese invasion of Asia through the dissemination of an enjoyable Japanese contemporary culture throughout Asian countries, particularly among younger people who did not experience Japanese imperialism in the first half of this [twentieth] century. In this context, the Japanese government has become interested in promoting the export of TV programs and popular culture in order to improve international understanding of Japan, particularly in Asian countries. (Iwabuchi 2002: 75) 206

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In sum, Iwabuchi draws attention to the politics behind the celebration of the powerful attraction and affect of Japanese idols in Asia in the 1990s.The celebration brought together producers, promoters and politicians, who all had a vested interest in the success of Japanese idols. Iwabuchi highlights here a “strong nationalist impulse”, which he refers to as “trans/nationalism” (Iwabuchi 2002: 52).This trans/nationalism has only become stronger since (as discussed below). Among Iwabuchi’s many contributions, particularly important is his analysis of the reception of “Japanese idol dramas” in Taiwan (Iwabuchi 2001; also Iwabuchi 2002: chapter four). Much of the discussion of the successes of J-pop and trendy dramas outside of Japan in the 1990s focuses on “proximity”, which suggests that Taiwan specifically and East and Southeast Asia generally respond to Japanese idols because they feel close to and identify with them culturally and ethnically. Resisting such essentializing imaginings of bounded cultures that are naturally close, Iwabuchi instead questions how audiences articulate cultural similarity in their reception of idol media. With this in mind, it is significant that Star TV established the “Japanese Idol Drama Hour” in 1992, which effectively branded imported idol media as “Japanese” (Iwabuchi 2001:  63).8 Iwabuchi’s interviews in Taiwan reveal that “Japanese young idols were the main attraction of Japanese dramas for a Taiwanese audience” (Iwabuchi 2001: 63). As in Japan, trendy dramas in Taiwan convey information about lifestyles, brands and fashion. As in Japan, Taiwanese fans approach Japanese idols as “intimate TV idols” (Iwabuchi 2001: 72).The fans know and care more about these idols, who at the time were dense carriers of information about “modern”, urban lifestyles in Asia. “Japanese TV dramas offer their fans a concrete model of what it is to be modern in East Asia”, Iwabuchi explains, “something which American popular culture can never do” (Iwabuchi 2001:  73). Put simply, fans in Japan and Taiwan are “experiencing and feeling similar things” (Iwabuchi 2001: 73). Fans in both places are drawn to, and moved by, idols, who stand for particular urban lifestyles rather than nations. Fans in both places are part of affective alliances organized around and by idols, which are not necessarily national in character. Despite all this, Iwabuchi highlights persistent nationalism in the framing of culture and power in East and Southeast Asia (Iwabuchi 2002: 156–157). Writing in 2002, Iwabuchi presciently notes the rise of South Korean idol music and dramas (Iwabuchi 2002: 210), which would lead to increased nationalistic competition between Japan and its neighbor (and former colony). The very same year that Iwabuchi published Recentering Globalization, the South Korean idol drama Winter Sonata aired in its country of origin; when broadcast in Japan the following year, it generated a base of dedicated fans and became a surprise hit. The “Korean wave”, which had been sweeping East and Southeast Asia, finally made its way to Japan’s shores. The first wave of dramas was followed by a second wave of K-pop, which saw idols such as Girls Generation and Kara break into the mainstream Japanese market. This reverse flow of idol media from Asia to Japan in the 2000s was not as comfortable as Japan’s “return to Asia” in the 1990s, which came with a privileged sense of being the center, above and ahead of neighbors (Iwabuchi 2002: chapter five). While some argue that the South Korean government’s decision to officially invest in national media industries in the late 1990s inspired a more proactive policy agenda in Japan (Choo 2011: 101), increased competition from South Korea in the early 2000s certainly accelerated the process. As if to inaugurate this new era of cultural politics, in 2002, American journalist Douglas McGray published his influential article on “Japan’s gross national cool” (McGray 2002), which suggested that Japan had become “a cultural superpower” and encouraged the Japanese government to harness its influence overseas. Such ideas found a receptive audience among Japanese politicians such as Kondō Sei’ichi and Asō Tarō, who became more vocal about “soft power” (Leheny 2006b: 220–229). As the policies of promoting media and popular culture as part of public diplomacy have increased in intensity, the rivalry between Japan and South Korea has 207

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become more marked. Revisiting his earlier thoughts on trans/nationalism, Iwabuchi has more recently referred to the situation in East Asia as one of “inter-nationalism”, or the “reworking and strengthening of the national in tandem with the intensification of cross-border media flows” (Iwabuchi 2010: 89). In other words, Japan and South Korea, among others in the region, are increasingly branding themselves in terms of media and popular culture (Iwabuchi 2010: 90). Here again we find idols. If Japan has for many been the home of idols, or “Idol Japan” (aidoru Nippon) (Nakamori 2007), a nation with a surplus of “idol national wealth” (aidoru kokufu) (Sakai 2010), then it is being challenged by the rise of South Korea as the “Idol Republic” (Kim 2011). What’s more, K-pop seems to be outperforming J-pop as the new hot thing in many parts of the world. Further, while South Korean idols are to some extent produced to approach the North American standard of style and sound (Lie 2015: 100–109), which aids in their smooth circulation, Japanese idols are persistently understood to be somehow “different”. This difference, real or imagined, has become an issue of national and international concern.

Issues with idols and globalization In Recentering Globalization, Koichi Iwabuchi argues that much of what travels from Japan to the world is “culturally odorless” (Iwabuchi 2002: 27). The provocative turn of phrase draws attention to the body, as Iwabuchi explains:  “The cultural odor of a product is […] closely associated with racial and bodily images of a country of origin” (Iwabuchi 2002: 28). A culturally odorless product, then, is one in which “a country’s bodily, racial, and ethnic characteristics are erased or softened” (Iwabuchi 2002: 28). For example, anime, or Japanese cartoons, have attracted fans around the world, but often “barely feature ‘Japanese bodily odor’ ” (Iwabuchi 2002: 28). Anime is one of what Iwabuchi calls the “three Cs” that Japan has had great success exporting, namely consumer technology, comics and cartoons, and computer/console games. Arguably, one of the reasons why Japanese producers, promoters and politicians were so excited about the successes of idols in East and Southeast Asia was because Japanese bodies were present in works that were received as Japanese and attractive as such (Iwabuchi 2002: 76). That is, in these works, one could see the tantalizing possibility that “Japanese bodily odor” had become an alluring “fragrance” (Iwabuchi 2002: 27). However, in contrast to the three Cs and the situation in East and Southeast Asia, Japanese idols have long had difficulty breaking into mainstream music and media markets in North America.9 With the rising profile of Japanese media and popular culture worldwide since the 2000s, idols have become increasingly visible, but the “cultural odor” of Japan, or the perceived and felt difference of “Japan”, has generated friction. The bodies of Japanese idols, and affective economics involving them, are increasingly drawing criticism. Japanese idols have had trouble not only because of language barriers, but also because of divergent production and promotion strategies. In global circulation, without the benefit of appearing across multiple media platforms and genres of performance simultaneously, idols lack the exposure necessary for them to be engaged intertextually. Seeing an idol for the first time outside of the media-commodity system, one does not know or care about them more than any other media performer or personality; they are not engaged intimately. Instead, the idol is judged strictly as a singer or dancer – and found to be lacking in comparison to supposedly superior performers from other parts of the world. British rocker Noel Gallagher spoke for many when, in 2012, after appearing on a Japanese television show alongside Japan’s bestselling idol group, AKB48, he suggested that they were a talentless “manufactured girl group” (Arama 2012). Even if judged not on talent, but rather attractiveness and sex appeal, these idols fail.To Gallagher, they appear to be kids “between the ages of 13–15” (Arama 2012). 208

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This comment by Gallagher highlights another issue with the reception of Japanese idols in global circulation: looks. Japanese idols are often young and in any case appear young. For example, although the average age of the more than 120 members of AKB48 is between 17 and 18 years old (AKB Fan 2013), and the primary and most popular performers are in their twenties, they appeared much younger to Gallagher. He is not alone in this; one Japanese critic points out a persistent misconception of the age of Japanese people, and Japanese women especially, whereby an 18-year-old is thought to be 14, a 20-year-old to be 15 and a 23-year-old to be 18 (Kagami 2010: 226–229). The characteristic look of Japanese idols, who are “cute” rather than “glamorous” or “sexy”, compounds this perception.Where Japanese critics praise idols for their cuteness, which makes them approachable and “adorable” (Aoyagi 2000: 312) – the Japanese word for cute, kawaii, combines the Chinese characters for “possible” (ka) and “love” (ai) – the aesthetic puzzles critics outside of Japan. (For a general introduction to cuteness as pervasive and valued in Japan, see Kinsella 1995.) While the slim, toned and exposed bodies of K-pop idols resemble those of pop stars in North America and Europe, the J-pop idol in her cute costumes (ribbons, frills, exaggerated buttons, bright colours, plaid skirts) seems somehow different, strange and perhaps a little weird. In line with much of the discourse about Japan as “other”, so often tied to bodies and pleasures (Benedict [1946] 2006: chapter nine), the difference of Japanese idols quickly comes to be associated with sexual difference and deviance. There is a cottage industry of writing about the imagined perversions and excesses of Japan, which often intersects with critiques of Japanese idols and affective economics involving them. For example, while idols such as AKB48 are successful at developing relationships with fans and moving them to make purchases, which is an entirely recognizable aspect of affective economics (Jenkins 2006:  chapter two), relationships between idols and fans appear suspect to many observers of Japan. If relationships are characterized by intimacy, or knowing and caring more about idols, which is an entirely recognizable aspect of fan cultures, then putting this intimacy up for sale brings to mind the sex industry for these observers. This critique is especially common when the fan is an older man and the idol a younger woman. This is again compounded by the production and promotional strategies of Japanese idols. In order to sell fantasy relationships to fans, producers and promoters of idols forbid actual romantic or sexual relationships with the opposite sex – even when both parties are consenting adults – which critics take to speak to the sexual perversion of male fans and sexual exploitation of female idols (Martin 2013). The violence of the relationship, existing just below the surface, is revealed to critics in stories about fans attacking idols when they cannot be “an idol for me alone” (boku dake no aidoru) (Japan Times 2016). Things escalate quickly in this neo-Orientalist discourse about “us” and “them” (Said 1978: 40) and their peculiar “enjoyment” (Žižek 1991: 165). If Japan is branded the nation of idols, then this can quickly transform into Japan being branded as a nation of normalized sexual exploitation of women. And, because idols are understood to be young, Japan is further branded as a nation of normalized sexual exploitation of children.This is precisely the formula offered by Jake Adelstein, a journalist well known for his investigative reporting on organized crime in Japan: To some degree, the sexualization of young girls is mainstream in Japan. For example, Japan’s most popular and mega-profitable all-female pop group AKB48 includes members as young as 13; and they’ve posed for ++sexy & semi-nude layouts in Japan’s Weekly Playboy several times. […] The AKB48 members are bound by their contracts to remain celibate while working for the parent company that manages the group, but they often appear in lurid commercials and videos depicting the band members exchanging kisses and singing sexually suggestive lyrics. (Adelstein and Kubo 2014) 209

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Adelstein goes on to suggest that one of the founders of AKB48 is associated with an organized crime syndicate involved in human trafficking and producing child pornography. Fact-checking the often misleading information presented does not reduce its rhetorical power or ability to incite outrage. Adelstein’s description of Japan as the “Empire of Child Pornography” colours the ways that idols are perceived as not an attractive aspect of Japanese media and popular culture, but rather a repulsive one. For Adelstein and others, idols seem to reveal all that is wrong with Japan. So it is that Adelstein, interviewed by award-winning journalist Simon Ostrovsky for a widely circulated video report on the phenomenon of “schoolgirls for sale in Japan”, states that Japan “is one of the most misogynistic, sexist societies […] in the world” (Vice News 2015). As part of the report, Ostrovsky observes female idols and waitresses who wear schoolgirl costumes and interact with fans and customers. Ostrovsky watches vigilantly as fans are motivated to purchase CDs in order to shake the hands of their idols, and allows that it is “pretty innocent when it is just teenagers meeting teenagers”. Suddenly, a smiling older man in a suit and tie appears to shake his idol’s hand; the camera zooms in on his face as the background music switches to an unmistakable Oriental theme; things are no longer “innocent”. At a nearby café, Ostrovsky uses a hidden camera to listen in on the conversation of a costumed waitress and her customer. The conversation turns out to be mundane, but, as Ostrovsky explains, “[I]t’s hard to overlook the very creepy fact that an adult man has paid for the company of an attractive schoolgirl”.The costumed waitress may or may not be a schoolgirl, and may or may not be selling sex, but Ostrovsky suggests that she might be. And that suggestion alone is enough. So it is that idols and costumed waitresses are linked to the problem of “Lolita culture”, which is part of “Japanese culture”. Observation of “creepy” fans and customers expands to a critique of the entire nation of Japan. For all of this criticism, one would think that everyone in Japan must be a fan of idols such as AKB48, but this is not the case. Although the members of AKB48 are introduced as “national idols” (kokumin-teki aidoru), this is a promotional strategy that is prescriptive rather than descriptive. AKB48 is extremely successful in economic terms, but it is fans making purchases, not all Japanese, that support them. Indeed, Matsuko Deluxe, one of the most popular media personalities in Japan today, calls AKB48 “shit idols” (kuso aidoru) (Crazy for Five O’clock 2013) and their fans “disgusting male virgins” (Livedoor 2015). When it was suggested that AKB48 might represent Japan at the opening or closing ceremonies of the Summer Olympics in Tokyo in 2020, Matsuko Deluxe responded, “I don’t care what they do, but please use somebody for the opening and closing ceremonies that wouldn’t be an embarrassment” (Rocket News 2015). Some agree that “AKB48 is the shame of Japan” (Rocket News 2015), while others claim that a “silent majority” opposes such idols (Kawai 2014). Ultimately, for Matsuko Deluxe, AKB48 does not resonate with the “hearts of Japanese in general” or have a message that can be shared by “the people” (kokumin) (Livedoor 2015). The Japanese word for “the people” is also translated as “national” when used as an adjective, as in “national idols”. Matsuko Deluxe’s argument, then, is that AKB48 idols are not “national idols” and AKB48 fans are not “the people” of Japan. We would do well to remember that this is a position on the contested terrain of “national-popular culture” (Hall 1998: 451). Under the banner of “Cool Japan”, Japanese public diplomacy has gained much attention since the 2000s, but some wonder to whom the government is appealing. For example, AKB48 has performed at government functions with foreign dignitaries (Japan Trends 2013) and the group’s producer has had meetings with the prime minister (Sankei News 2014), but the deployment of cute idols has raised eyebrows in North America. In a blistering critique, Laura Miller takes on Japan’s “cute ambassadors” (kawaii taishi), or three professional performers in their twenties selected by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs to represent Japanese fashion (Miller 2011). All are women, and one wears a schoolgirl uniform, which Miller describes as “a widely 210

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recognized object of sexual fetishization in Japan” that resonates with “global sex trafficking” (Miller 2011: 20–21). As Miller sees it, the Japanese government is a “pimp” selling the fantasy of sexually available young women, who become “fantasy-capital” for Japan in the global economy of desire (Miller 2011: 23). In a reversal of Koichi Iwabuchi’s notion of the “culturally odorless” (Iwabuchi 2002: 27–28), Japanese bodies are not erased but rather foregrounded by idols, and the production and promotion of young women as objects of desire and control seems problematic, as does government investment in this process. If, as Akahori Takeshi, director of the public diplomacy department at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, suggests, “The objective is to promote an understanding of Japan, a better image, or the correct image” (quoted in Ellwood 2010), then the mission fails when cute idols are taken to be promoting “pedophiliac culture” (Miller 2011: 22). This focused critique of Japan perhaps obscures the dynamics of idol politics more broadly. By way of comparison, in South Korea,Yeran Kim argues that “girl industries” and “girl power” are seen as productive forces for the nation (Kim 2011). On the one hand, “girl bodies are manufactured as cultural content and converted into economic values” and on the other hand the “values of girl idols as cultural content are further actively promoted as national cultural resources” (Kim 2011: 335, 340). While this production and promotion of young women as a national resource for sale on the global market might invite a critique similar to Miller’s, the South Korean government instead takes pride in the successes of K-pop idols. “In this respect”, Kim explains, “girls are shifting in their social position from sexual objects of patriarchal desire into agents of patriotic nationalism, capable of bringing the nation a victory in the global cultural war” (Kim 2011: 342). Kim refers to the phenomenon of the nation celebrating girls selling on the global market as “Lolita nationalism” (Kim 2011: 342). The idea of “Lolita nationalism” no doubt raises eyebrows, but, for the most part, South Korea has escaped the negative criticism inspired by Japanese idols. While members of a South Korean idol group were detained entering the United States on suspicion of being “sex workers” (ABC 2015), few seem to think that South Korea, branded the “Idol Republic” (Kim 2011), is a nation of sex workers. Notably, mention of the problem of underage sex work was muted in reports of the detainment.10 This is intriguing when one considers celebration of the “Lolita” as “a sexy girl who serves the market needs of the current mediascape” (Kim 2011: 342), and that South Korean authorities have considered regulating “over-sexualized performances by teenage stars” (Global Times 2012). It seems that the “adult” and “mature” look of K-pop idols meets familiar expectations and hence escapes widespread criticism, which is reserved for Japan, a nation long associated in the popular imagination with sexual difference and deviance. We see here the limitations of Japanese idols in global circulation, where persistent stereotypes and expectations tend to marginalize and reject what is “other”.

Conclusion In Recentering Globalization, Koichi Iwabuchi points out that “questions of what constitutes the ‘real’ Japan, whether it is possible to represent the ‘real’ faces of Japan, and in what manner such images of Japan are (in contradictory ways) consumed and received by audiences, are highly contested” (Iwabuchi 2002: 76). This is clearly demonstrated in the fraught discussion of idols in Japan, Asia and the world. Differences in the reception of “Japanese” idols in East and Southeast Asia and beyond, and in the 1990s and 2010s, suggest that “Japan” does not mean the same thing to all people in all places at all times. In global circulation, “Japan” can be proximate or distant, similar or different, ahead or behind the times, something to celebrate or criticize. This chapter does not intend to resolve misunderstandings to get to the “real” Japan – which, as Iwabuchi suggests with his scare quotes, does not exist – but rather to get to the politics of imagining 211

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“Japan”. Idols open a window onto the national and international politics of celebrity, and are part of what Iwabuchi calls “inter-nationalism”, or the “reworking and strengthening of the national in tandem with the intensification of cross-border media flows” (Iwabuchi 2010: 89). If, as Michael J. Wolf has suggested, “celebrity is the only currency” (Wolf 1999: 28) in media, then we need to be sensitive to how that currency is valued in different markets.We need to take into consideration uneven relations in evaluations and asymmetrical flows in markets. As seen in the case of idols in Japan, Asia and the world, celebrities are not created and consumed equally.

Notes 1 In its discussion of idols and Japan, this chapter aims to address some gaps in celebrity studies, which have been generally focused on North America and Europe (Marshall 2014: xxviii-xxix). On the other hand, in Japan, the discussion of idols has tended to ignore celebrity studies (Galbraith and Karlin 2012: 2–4). By bringing together work on idols, a form of celebrity in Japan, and work in the field of celebrity studies as it has developed outside of Japan, this chapter is a modest step in the direction of dialogue. 2 While Steinberg is talking about image characters, idols function in similar ways. 3 Since sales of domestic music surpassed sales of foreign music in Japan in 1967 (Hosokawa 2005: 306), the trend has been toward foreign music as a smaller and smaller share of the market. In 2004, for example, 99.5  percent of the total income of the Japanese music industry came from the domestic market (Mōri 2009: 485). 4 This number is quite high, even for the Japanese market. In general, Japanese advertisers demand ratings of 15 to 20 percent, or about 15 to 20 million viewers (Lukács 2010a: 40). 5 This is perhaps not as shocking as it seems, given that “local TV programmes seem to be the most popular in any country” (Iwabuchi 2001: 57). 6 Building on Lukács and Iwabuchi, Thomas Lamarre also places emphasis on satellite broadcasters such as Star TV when he argues that the “coming in common” of television in East Asia was made possible by “the production of distribution” (Lamarre 2015: 117–118, 120). The expansion of communication channels outpaced the production of content, which created the conditions for rebroadcasting and remaking existing content. Japanese television, which was not thought to have much export value because of its emphasis on the here and now of consumer culture in Japan, provided a cheap alternative to domestic production. 7 For example, Ishihara Shin’tarō, a conservative and populist politician, writes glowingly of Japanese popular songs being sung in East and Southeast Asia, just as American songs were sung during and after the Occupation of Japan (Iwabuchi 2002: 66). 8 The boom was sparked by Tokyo Love Story, which was broadcast by Star Chinese Channel in 1992 (Iwabuchi 2001: 64). Lukács describes Tokyo Love Story as “a cult drama throughout East Asia” (Lukács 2010b: 186). Travel agencies in Taiwan sold fans trips to Japan, which was coded as a space of television; for example, a visit to Tokyo Tower would be tied to a key scene from Tokyo Love Story (Lukács 2010a: 56). 9 Pink Lady, Matsuda Seiko and Utada Hikaru, some of the bestselling and most beloved idols of their respective decades, all made failed attempts at mainstream music and media debuts in North America. However, as in the case of East and Southeast Asia, there are undoubtedly fans contributing to “rogue flows” (Iwabuchi 2002: 137–140; Lamarre 2015: 114–116). 10 Although nowhere near as pointed as much of the popular writing on Japanese idols, this incident was an opportunity for the journalist to critique “South Korea’s K-pop scene, which has been exported with enormous success across Asia and beyond, [but] is dominated by young girl and boy bands whose members are sometimes as young as 13 or 14 years old” (ABC 2015).The story is tellingly tagged as one about “music” and “sexual offences”.

References ABC. 2015. Oh my Girl: K-Pop band detained at Los Angeles Airport on suspicion of being sex workers, agency says. December 11. www.abc.net.au/news/2015-12-11/k-pop-band-detained-at-la-airport-assuspected-sex-workers/7022820. 212

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Adelstein, J., and Kubo, A.E. 2014. Japan’s kiddie porn empire: Bye-bye? The Daily Beast, June 3.  www. thedailybeast.com/articles/2014/06/03/japan-s-kiddie-porn-empire-bye-bye.html. AKB Fan. 2013. AKB48 gurūpu zen membā nenrei betsu risuto (sōsenkyo bunseki raitā). August 15. http:// blog.goo.ne.jp/tedpapa/e/6f0c11b95d187c20fb836772512b8a97. Allison, A. 2013. Precarious Japan. Durham, NC: Duke Univ. Press. Aoyagi, H. 2000. Pop idols and the Asian identity. In T.J. Craig (ed.), Japan Pop! Inside the world of Japanese popular culture (pp. 309–326). New York: M.E. Sharpe. Arama. 2012. Noel Gallagher comments about AKB48. May 27. http://aramatheydidnt.livejournal.com/ 3845806.html. Benedict, R. [1946] 2006. The Chrysanthemum and the Sword:  Patterns of Japanese Culture. Boston, MA: Mariner Books. Choo, K. 2011. Nationalizing ‘cool:’ Japan’s global promotion of the content industry. In N. Otmazgin and E. Ben-Ari (eds), Popular Culture and the State in East and Southeast Asia (pp. 85–105). London: Routledge. Crazy for Five O’clock. 2013. Naka Ri’isa ‘AKB ren’ai kinshi rūru’ wo hihan. February 4. www.youtube. com/watch?v=sDcjv8BDFZw. De Launey, G. 1995. Not-so-big in Japan:  Western pop music in the Japanese market. Popular Music, 14(2): 203–225. Ellwood, M. 2010. Japan’s ambassadors of cute. The Financial Times, March 27. www.ft.com/cms/s/2/ 06978f58-384d-11df-8420-00144feabdc0.html. Galbraith, P.W., and Karlin, J.G. 2012. Introduction: The mirror of idols and celebrity. In P.W. Galbraith and J.G. Karlin (eds), Idols and Celebrity in Japanese Media Culture (pp. 1–32). New York: Palgrave. Galbraith, P.W., and Karlin, J.G. 2016. Introduction:  At the crossroads of media convergence in Japan. In P.W. Galbraith and J.G. Karlin (eds), Media Convergence in Japan (pp. 1–28). Ann Arbor, MI: Kinema Club. Global Times. 2012. South Korea to crack down on sexy shows by teenage stars. October 17. www. globaltimes.cn/content/738997.shtml. Hall, S. 1998. Notes on deconstructing ‘the popular’. In J. Storey (ed.), Cultural Theory and Popular Culture: A Reader (pp. 442–453). Upper Saddle River, NJ: Prentice Hall. Hosokawa, S. 2005. Popular entertainment and the music industry. In J. Robertson (ed.), A Companion to the Anthropology of Japan (pp. 297–313). Oxford: Blackwell. Iwabuchi, K. 2001. Becoming ‘culturally proximate’: The a/scent of Japanese idol dramas in Taiwan. In B. Moeran (ed.), Asian Media Productions (pp. 54–74). London: Routledge. Iwabuchi, K. 2002. Recentering Globalization:  Popular Culture and Japanese Transnationalism. Durham, NC: Duke Univ. Press. Iwabuchi, K. 2010. Undoing inter-national fandom in the age of brand nationalism. In F. Lunning (ed.), Mechademia 5: Fanthropologies (pp. 87–96). Minneapolis: Univ. of Minnesota Press. Japan Times. 2016. Stabbed idol in critical condition Fan faces charge of attempted murder. May 22. www. japantimes.co.jp/ news/ 2016/ 05/ 22/ national/ crime- legal/ female- idol- stabbed- multiple- times- bypurported-fan-at-event-in-western-tokyo-police/#.V0qHrWZvw7A. Japan Trends. 2013. AKB48 represents Japanese culture at the ASEAN Gala Banquet. December 16. www. japantrends.com/akb48-asean-tokyo-summit/. Jenkins, H. 2006. Convergence Culture: Where Old and New Media Collide. New York: New York Univ. Press. Kagami, H. 2010. Hijitsuzai seishōnen ron: Otaku to shihonshugi. Tokyo: Ai’ikusha. Kawai, G. 2014. No to Yasushi Akimoto: Akimoto Yasushi ‘gorin soshiki i’inkai riji’ no kiyō wo chūshi shite kudasai. Change.org, January 27. www.change.org/p/no-to-yasushi-akimoto. Kinsella, S. 1995. Cuties in Japan. In L. Skov and B. Moeran (eds), Women, Media, and Consumption in Japan (pp. 220–254). Honolulu, Univ. of Hawai’i Press. Kimura, T. 2007. History of Japanese idols: From the silver screen to the internet via the living room. High Fashion: Bimonthly Magazine for Women and Men, 313: 259–260. Kim, Y. 2011. Idol republic:  The global emergence of girl industries and the commercialization of girl bodies. Journal of Gender Studies, 20(4): 333–345. Lamarre, T. 2015. Regional TV: Affective media geographies. Asiascape: Digital Asia, 2: 93–126. Leheny, D. 2006a. Think Global, Fear Local:  Sex, Violence, and Anxiety in Contemporary Japan. Ithaca, NY: Cornell Univ. Press. Leheny, D. 2006b. A narrow place to cross swords: ‘Soft power’ and the politics of Japanese popular culture in East Asia. In P.J. Katzenstein and T. Shiraishi (eds), Beyond Japan: The Dynamics of East Asian Regionalism (pp. 211–237). Ithaca, NY: Cornell Univ. Press. 213

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Lie, J. 2015. K-Pop:  Popular Music, Cultural Amnesia, and Economic Innovation in South Korea. Oakland, CA: Univ. of California Press. Livedoor. 2015. AKB no rakkyoku wa ‘ippan no Nihonjin no kokoro niwa todoite konai:’ Matsuko Derakkusu ga kataru ‘Mo musu’ to ‘AKB’ no ōki na chigai towa. April 15. http://news.livedoor.com/ article/detail/10008268/. Lukács, G. 2010a. Scripted Affects, Branded Selves: Television, Subjectivity and Capitalism in 1990s Japan. Durham, NC: Duke Univ. Press. Lukács, G. 2010b. Dream labor in the dream factory: Japanese commercial television in the era of market fragmentation. In M. Yoshimoto, E. Tsai and J. Choi (eds), Television, Japan, and Globalization (pp. 173– 194). Ann Arbor: Univ. of Michigan Press. Marshall, P.D. 2002. The new intertextual commodity. In D. Harries (ed.), The New Media Handbook (pp. 69–81). London: British Film Institute. Marshall, P.D. 2014. Celebrity and Power: Fame in Contemporary Culture. Minneapolis: Univ. of Minnesota Press. Martin, I. 2013. AKB48 member’s ‘penance’ shows flaws in idol culture. The Japan Times, February 1. www. japantimes.co.jp/culture/2013/02/01/music/akb48-members-penance-shows-flaws-in-idol-culture/. McGray, D. 2002. Japan’s gross national cool. Foreign policy. http://homes.chass.utoronto.ca/~ikalmar/ illustex/japfpmcgray.htm. Miller, L. 2011. Cute masquerade and the pimping of Japan. International Journal of Japanese Sociology, 20: 18–29. Mōri, Y. 2009. J-Pop:  From the ideology of creativity to DiY music culture. Inter-Asia Cultural Studies, 10(4): 474–488. Nakamori, A. 2007. Aidoru Nippon. Tokyo: Shinchōsha. Okada, T. 2008. Otaku wa sude ni shinde iru. Tokyo: Shinchōsha. Okajima, S., and Yasuhiro, O. 2011. Gurūpu aidoru shinka ron:  ‘Aidoru sengoku jidai’ ga yatte kita! Tokyo: Mainichi komyunikēshonzu. Okiyama, S. 2007. The story of dreams and yearnings:  The ‘promide’ pictures of Marubelldo. High Fashion: Bimonthly Magazine for Women and Men, 313: 260. Oricon. 2014. Nenkan CD shinguru rankingu 2014 nendo. www.oricon.co.jp/rank/js/y/2014/. Otmazgin, N. 2016. A new cultural geography of East Asia: Imagining a ‘region’ through popular culture. Japan Focus, 14(7): No. 5. http://apjjf.org/2016/07/Otmazgin.html. Rocket News. 2015. Cross-dressing talent Matsuko Deluxe:  AKB opening the Tokyo Olympics ‘would embarrass Japan’. January 29. http://en.rocketnews24.com/2015/01/29/cross-dressing-talent-matsukodeluxe-akb-opening-the-tokyo-olympics-would-embarrass-japan/. Said, E. 1978. Orientalism. New York: Vintage Books. Saitō, T. [1998] 2013. Hikikomori:  Adolescence Without End, translated by J. Angles. Minneapolis:  Univ. of Minnesota Press. Sakai, M. 2014. Aidoru kokufu ron: Seiko, Akina no jidai kara AKB, Momokuro jidai made toku. Tokyo:  Tōyō keizai shinpōsha. Sankei News. 2014. Abe Shinzō x sakushika Akimoto Yasushi: Aidea to yūki, sekai kaeru. January 1. www. sankei.com/politics/news/140101/plt1401010017-n1.html. Schilling, M. 1997. The Encyclopedia of Japanese Pop Culture. Boston: Weatherhill. Steinberg, M. 2012. Anime’s Media Mix:  Franchising Toys and Characters in Japan. Minneapolis:  Univ. of Minnesota Press. Vice News. 2015. Schoolgirls for sale in Japan. July 20. https://news.vice.com/video/schoolgirls-forsale-in-japan. Wolf , M.J. 1999. The Entertainment Economy: How Mega-Media Forces are Transforming Our Lives. New York: Three Rivers Press. Yamaguchi, N. 2013. Garapagosu-ka suru Nihon no ongaku bijinesu: CD ga ure, iTunes Store ga fukyū shinai riyū. Wedge Infinity, September 13. http://wedge.ismedia.jp/articles/-/3143. Yomiuri Shimbun. 2012. Posuto AKB wa dō suru? Aidoru sengoku jidai no yukue. October 9.  http:// ameblo.jp/zatsu-you/entry-11376466431.html. Žižek, S. 1991. Looking Awry:  An Introduction to Jacques Lacan Through Popular Culture. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press.

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14 Celebrity and power in South America Nahuel Ribke

Endeavoring to write about celebrity phenomenon in South America may place the author in an uncomfortable position. On the one hand, with some minor exceptions, Latin American, and South American nation states in particular, comprise a united geo-political, cultural and economic region. South American nations share a common painful colonial legacy, similar religious demographics and two closely related Iberian languages. This common colonial past, with its racial classification system, created new regionally propagated social identities, such as indios, negros, mestizos and blancos (Quijano 2000). At the same time, this vast region is widely known for sharp social, economical, political and cultural contrasts, not only among individual nation states, but also within each national unit. Several scholars have pointed out almost synchronized processes at work in the major South American countries, not only in the economic and political spheres, but also in terms of mass media structure and contents (Sinclair 1998; La Pastina and Straubhaar 2005). However, the question arises whether this simultaneity occurred with respect to the celebrity culture phenomenon. First, can we identify a particular sub-continental celebrity phenomenon? And if so, what are the distinctive features of South American celebrity culture? What are the main processes through which celebrity status is obtained south of the equator, and how is celebrity capital converted into other forms of symbolic and material capital? Are these processes significantly different from those occurring in the northern hemisphere? Throughout this chapter, I will try to answer these questions by constructing a tentative historical narrative of celebrity power in the two South American nations with the largest populations, territories and markets – Brazil and Argentina. Latin American scholars, with some exceptions, have not yet fully engaged in a systematic study of celebrity phenomena in their societies from a sociological/cultural studies perspective (Ribke 2015; Miguel 2003). However, some clues on the celebrity phenomenon in this region of the world can be found in the works of Latin American intellectuals and researchers like Carlos Monsivais (1985), Beatriz Sarlo (1988), Renato Ortiz (1988), Nestor Garcia Canclini (1989) and Jesus Martin Barbero (2003). While “stars” and “celebrities” are at the margins of their analysis, their work as a whole explores the specific conditions under which Latin American societies encountered modernity.

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According to these researchers, Latin American popular culture production and consumption is the outcome of the abrupt and traumatic encounter between archaic traditions and structures and a modern (dependent) capitalist mode of production.Violent urbanization and unstable economic development processes, internal migration from rural areas and a massive exposure of popular classes to commercial mass media contents define the Latin American encounter with modernity. I  argue that these cultural hybridization processes, mediated by  mass media, were and still are the hotbed for the development of celebrity culture in the region. In the absence of a local foundational source on the Latin American celebrity phenomenon, I refer instead to a brief but inspiring reference found in Francesco Alberoni’s canonical text The Powerless Elite:  Theory and Sociological Research on the Phenomenon of the Stars (1973). Examining the structural prerequisites for the appearance of “stars”, Alberoni established a direct connection between an increase in a society’s wealth and the growth of the phenomenon of stardom. According to Alberoni, a surplus of income above the subsistence level is necessary for the emergence of “stars”. However, immediately after linking economic well-being with the phenomenon of celebrity, Alberoni limits the scope of his explanation, noting the level of stardom achieved by football stars in South America and cinema actors in India “despite the low level of income and economic development in the region”. He closes by adding a persuasive but underdeveloped comment, observing that perhaps it is in those economically and “socially backward” societies that the celebrity phenomenon is in fact most prominent. The link between economic underdevelopment and celebrity prominence, as formulated by Alberoni, may reflect a Eurocentric, “orientalist” view on the part of the author regarding Latin American and South Asian societies. Is the cult of celebrity indeed more prominent in these regions? Are there not, embedded in Alberoni’s comment, colonialist assumptions about distinctive “structures of feeling” of “third world” nations? However, identifying specific genres or media industries where local celebrity culture thrives seems to take us in the right direction. If there are in fact distinctive features defining the celebrity phenomenon in South America, then there should also be reciprocal relationships with the emerging popular culture and its complex cultural industries. Throughout the following sections, I will examine three different historical stages in South American celebrity culture, analyzing the intersection of local political and social processes, economic and technological developments in the cultural industries and the career patterns adopted by major stars/celebrities during each period. In addition to focusing solely on Brazil and Argentina, and thus neglecting significant parts of the subcontinent, this chapter commits another unavoidable crime by omitting important phenomena related to South American celebrity culture, such as the appearance of footballers or television fiction stars. Despite those limitations in scope, I argue that both the periodization and the main concepts delineated herein can be applied to better understand the topics overlooked by this chapter.

Carlos Gardel and Carmen Miranda and the emergence of a “dependent” pan-Latin-American star system (1925–1955). Carlos Gardel (1890–1935) and Carmen Miranda (1909–1955) are generally considered the first South American mass-media stars, becoming not just national, but international icons. Following their tragic deaths, both were transformed into pillars of their nations’ collective identities. Both Gardel and Miranda were virtuoso singers with a magnetic stage presence. While both skillfully managed ambitious international film careers, their transformation into modern pan-American mega stars was more than a personal accomplishment; their meteoric 216

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careers as pioneer pan-American entertainment stars were directly connected to major transformations that occurred on the South American subcontinent during the first decades of the twentieth century. Between 1880 and 1930, Brazil and Argentina experienced the arrival of millions of mostly European immigrants who came to the Americas looking for a way to improve their economic condition. Argentinean and Brazilian political elites perceived European immigration as a dynamic force that could bring economic and cultural development to their nations. Local elites used a eugenic rationale to establish a hierarchical system that placed European immigrants higher on the social scale than indigenous or Creole inhabitants. However, the relationship between the established elites and the European newcomers was far from idyllic (Stepan 1989). The mass arrival of immigrants radically changed both urban landscapes and local culture. The European immigrants introduced political practices such as union organization and class struggle, creating tension with the old-order elites, who in turn responded with violent repression interspersed with occasional temporary and timid political reprieves in order to ease the social tensions. According to several sources, the embrace of tango music in Argentina and samba in Brazil by the local elites was directly influenced by two interrelated factors: their popular success in Europe, in Paris in particular, during the second decade of the twentieth century, and the way in which the genres managed to ease class and ethnic conflicts in those societies, creating a shared cultural repertoire that was exalted as the essence of the “national genius” (Kerber 2007). When Gardel in the late 1920s and Miranda in the early 1940s launched international careers, they had already reached the status of local stars. However, their transformation into national icons is closely connected to their success overseas. Local media widely covered their forays into international entertainment circuits, presenting their achievements abroad as a sign of national pride (Collier 1986; Castro 2005). Cultural critics, intellectuals and even local artists rejected Gardel’s and Miranda’s passages into the international market, with their changed image, clothing style and native linguistic repertoire. Gardel’s performances abroad wearing typical gaucho attire, despite tango’s urban roots, and Miranda’s Bahiana costume, were seen as a profane exploitation of their countries’ national cultures. However, Gardel’s and Miranda’s popularity with local audiences was not directly affected by nationalistic critiques. As Eduardo Archetti clearly explains, despite critical claims of a “pure” and “uncontaminated” period wherein a truly national culture flourished, a blending of urban and rural styles was already under way in the early days of Gardel’s career as a singer (Archetti 2003: 9–29). Carmen Miranda, much like Carlos Gardel, presented a far more eclectic musical style at the outset of her career, and her repertoire even included tango songs sung in Portuguese. The creation of Miranda’s on-stage/on-screen persona is even more interesting, because the adoption of the “exotic” Bahiana costume began while performing in Rio de Janeiro’s Casino, before she moved to the US (Freire-Medeiros 2006). It could therefore be argued that performing for an international audience, as well as for the local (European) elites in Brazil, provided her with a sense of American and European audiences’ desires and fantasies of what a Brazilian actress and singer should be. Carlos Gardel’s and Carmen Miranda’s formative periods and careers transverse the height of economic, social and cultural transformations occurring in South America. The Argentinean “Zorzal Criollo” (The Criole Thrush) and the Brazilian “Bombshell”, as Gardel and Miranda were known respectively, were both born in Europe to underprivileged families and traveled to the subcontinent with their parents at a very early age. Gardel blurred and obscured his foreign origins to hide his humble background, consequently giving rise to a long-running dispute among tango fans from Argentina and Uruguay over his place of birth 217

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(Collier 1986; Barsky and Barsky 2004). In Miranda’s case, her constant need to reaffirm her love and loyalty for her homeland is a consequence of her status as a “newcomer” (Castro 2005; Schpun 2008). Gardel and Miranda became identified with the tango and samba genres at a time when both styles were transitioning from a typically lower-class audience and a reputation as disreputable dance music, to a respected and legitimate cultural form, enjoyed equally by the middle and upper classes. Although the recording industry was a powerful force in driving popular acceptance of local music styles, it was commercial radio, as well as the incipient sound film industry, that contributed the most to the popularization of tango and samba music and the emergence of the pan-American star system (Fagundes Haussen 1995). Born in the last decade of the nineteenth century, Carlos Gardel was a key figure in the transformation of tango music from a strictly dance genre to “tango-cancion”, an adaptation in which the added lyrics are no less important than the traditional melodies. Gardel’s interpretation of “Mi noche triste”, thought to be the first example of tango-cancion, sold 10,000 records, a colossal success for that time period. Gardel was also a pioneer in cultivating a visual image to complement his powerful baritone voice, further boosting his star power (Helal and Lovisolo 2012). In addition to his theater and radio performances in Latin America and Europe, Gardel performed in seven feature-length films for Paramount Studios. Although his cinematic performances did not garner him significant recognition in the American film industry, they were extremely popular in Latin American markets and were crucial to the development of an Argentine film industry (Navitsky 2011). Throughout the years, various explanations have been proffered for the failure of Gardel’s North American adventure:  insufficient investment from Paramount in the production of Gardel’s films; the fact that Gardel never conversed in English on screen; Gardel’s physical appearance, which differed from US beauty standards; and finally, Gardel’s early death in a plane crash at the age of 44. Despite a lack of enthusiasm in the North American market, Gardel’s feature-film performances did boost his star status in Latin American and southern European countries (Navitsky 2011; Poppe 2012). After his sudden and tragic death, Gardel’s vast archive of musical recordings and motion-picture performances served as a powerful preservation tool, perpetuating the legend of “Zorzal Criollo” in the collective Argentinean and Latin American memory until today. Almost twenty years younger than Gardel, Carmen Miranda’s career also benefited from the thriving recording industry and the development of commercial radio in 1930s Brazil. During the 1910s, samba music, a genre developed by recently freed Afro-Brazilians in Rio de Janeiro, began to make its way from the margins of Brazilian culture into the developing phonograph industry (Helal and Lovisolo 2012). The first Samba song recorded, Pelo Telefone (1917), made reference to both the phonograph, the most promising communication technology of that time, and the traditional festival of carnival, providing a compelling example of Latin America’s distinctive encounter with modernity. The rise of Getulio Vargas, the major Brazilian political figure of the first half of the twentieth century, propelled economic and cultural development in the country, creating opportunity for mass consumption of popular culture. Vargas’s rule, despite, or perhaps because of, his authoritarian tendencies, laid the foundation for the creation of a more homogeneous Brazilian popular culture. Samba, which became immensely popular thanks to the recording industry, radio and the printed press, also played an important role in Vargas’s national project (McCann 2004). Carmen Miranda participated in Vargas’s nationalist project in two complementary and seemingly contradicting ways. First, she performed many samba songs commonly known as sambaexaltacao  – samba songs praising Brazilian nature and beauty and expressing feelings of love 218

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and loyalty for national symbols. Second, her international career was the result of BrazilianAmerican geopolitical maneuvering before and during the Second World War. While Miranda’s career in the United States is often credited as an American entertainmentindustry creation, it occurred under the sponsorship of the Brazilian state as part of the “Good Neighborhood” policy promoted by the American president Theodore Roosevelt (Woll 1974; Freire-Medeiros 2006). In contrast to Gardel, Miranda’s Hollywood career lasted much longer and was more successful. After performing for two years on Broadway with her Brazilian band Bando da Lua, Miranda moved to Hollywood, where she made fourteen films for major studios, becoming the highest-paid Hollywood actress in 1951 (Mendonca 1999). The severity of the adaptations Miranda made to her onscreen persona in order to appeal to a wider audience, which now included both North American and Latin American viewers, provoked a mixture of shame and pride among her Brazilian compatriots. Miranda’s sudden death at the age of 46 occurred when her glory days in Hollywood were behind her, but it had an enormous impact in Brazil. Her body was flown back to Rio de Janeiro, the funeral was followed by half a million Brazilians and the media stopped the regular broadcasting, transforming her burial into an apotheotic ritual. Carlos Gardel and Carmen Miranda could be considered the first South American international stars in an emergent and dependent Latin American entertainment industry. Stars, according to Dyer, are public figures perceived as capable of resolving the apparently unsolvable conflicts of their time (Dyer 2004), and Gardel and Miranda, at least for the bulk of their careers, seemed to project this quality. The tensions between old rural elites and urban immigrants, national and foreign culture, high and popular culture, modernity and archaic traditions, Europe and the Americas, are all reconciled through Gardel’s and Miranda’s on-stage personas. As powerful public figures, both Gardel and Miranda seemed to work to further a more homogeneous and unified national consciousness (Kerber 2007; Karush 2012). However, as Gardel’s and Miranda’s foreign careers developed, they ceased, at least temporarily and to varying degrees, to be perceived as synthesizers of the “national spirit”. While Gardel’s partial failure in Hollywood and early death preserved his status as an almost uncontestable national icon, Carmen Miranda’s exaggerated “tropical” Latina persona provoked a more ambivalent reaction within Brazilian society. At times, she was perceived as a mere tool of American imperialism, other times as a figure who, through excess, called into question ethnic and feminine stereotypes (Roberts 1993). As I have argued throughout this section, despite differences in their on-stage personas, both Gardel and Miranda represented a nascent pan-Latin American star system, which was interrupted following their early deaths. Lacking a strong and stable cinema industry, the Latin American celebrity phenomenon was confined to the emergent local television industry and its distinctive entertainment genres.

The consolidation of television industry (1960–1970): kitsch against politicized celebrities While television broadcasting reached Brazil and Argentina relatively early on, it was only during the 1960s and 1970s that television became the dominant mass media, finally replacing radio. The growing purchasing power of the middle and lower classes brought with it an expansion of the electronics market, as well as an increase in the budgets of local television productions. Furthermore, the expanding middle classes attracted investments from the American television corporations, which in turn brought new managerial practices, formats and technologies to the subcontinent. As a whole, television contents during this period became more responsive to popular taste, impregnating the daily schedule with contents of popular appeal (Ribke 2011; 219

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Varela 2005; Ortiz 1988). It was during this period that a new cadre of young popular singers, actors and television personalities came to embody a new local “celebrity system”. This boom in the local television industries occurred within the broader context of the Cold War. In Latin America, the 1960s and early 1970s were a period of increasing political volatility, with often violent disputes erupting between the right- and left-wing factions. These disputes resulted in bloody military interventions and the installation of right-wing military regimes across the subcontinent (Gaspari 2002; Finchelstein 2014). In this section, I will examine the birth of a local television celebrity system through popular music television shows and contests, as well as the relationship of this system to the political and economic reality of the Cold War period. The thriving youth music industry, and its symbiotic relationship with the television industry during the 1960s and 1970s, was a global phenomenon influenced by demographic and social changes and, specifically, by the Americanization of cultural industries. According to Eric Zolov, towards the end of 1950 Ricardo Mejia, an Ecuadorian artistic director from RCA Mexico, was sent to Buenos Aires to launch a new wave of local young artists, inspired by the success in Mexico of rock and roll sung in Spanish (1999: 65). The production of music idols inspired by American rock music and aimed at middle-class Latin American youth was further spurred by the astounding record sales seen in Argentina. In 1962, RCA and the Buenos Aires-based television channel Canal 13 joined forces to produce El Club de Clan, a musical program that promoted a cadre of pop music artists signed to the American record company. A huge success in terms of ratings figures and record sales, El Club del Clan was widely criticized for corrupting Argentinean culture with foreign rhythms and styles at the expense of local folk music genres like tango. Designed according to preconceived archetypes identified by market researchers, El Club del Clan members were transformed into a status group (Kurzman et al. 2007) that displayed “a repertoire of powerful images” related to youth, modernity and consumer culture (Mazzaferro 2011). During the two years it was broadcasted (1962–1964), El Club del Clan catapulted several artists to fame, including Violeta Rivas, Johnny Tedesco and Chico Novarro, as well as Ramon Bautista Ortega, better known as Palito Ortega, who attained stardom on both a national and international level. During the 1960s and 1970s, Ortega recorded 29 LPs, performed in 30 films and made frequent appearances on live studio television shows across Latin America. In many ways, Ortega’s public persona epitomizes the “rags to riches” narrative so common in the celebrity life-story formula. Born on a sugar-cane plantation in Tucuman to a large and humble family, Palito Ortega immigrated to Buenos Aires at the age of 14 to make a living in the big city. While working as a waiter, he took drum and guitar lessons, and began to imitate Elvis Presley in popular festivals (Del Guercio 2014). An omnipresent figure in the Argentinean mass media, Ortega’s marriage to Evangelina Salazar, a young blue-eyed porteña actress, became a media event, achieving remarkable ratings figures for that time (Ulanovsky et  al. 1999). Despite lacking a singing or composing talent, Ortega’s charismatic presence and catchy songs captivated the eyes and ears of millions of Argentineans who reveled in the success of one of their own. For others, his life choices, both political and aesthetic, and his decision not to identify himself with the Tucuman folk music of his province, were seen as a betrayal of his criollo roots. When his artistic career began to decline, Ortega took several controversial steps, including enthusiastically supporting the bloody military regime that took power in Argentina from 1976 to 1983. Ortega contributed to the regime’s propaganda machinery by appearing in advertisements and feature movies that reflected the zeitgeist of those years (Varela 2005). After the fall of the military regime, Palito Ortega moved to the United States, returning to Argentina in 1990 to 220

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launch a career in politics. In 1991, Ortega was elected as governor of Tucuman province and remained in office until 1995. During this period, Ortega embraced the neo-liberal policies adopted by Argentinean president Carlos Menem, which included the privatization of public services and companies. In 1999, Ortega was a candidate for the office of vice-president in the Argentinean national election. However, Ortega quit politics following this loss. If Palito Ortega and many of his fellow Club del Clan members represented a conservative and sterilized version of “youth culture”, other live studio show musicians who began their careers as pop performers gradually moved towards more socially and politically engaged music.This transition occurred concurrently with the artists’ continued participation in the popular live studio television shows where the “sterilized” local rock culture was being fabricated. While the binary opposition between alienated pop musicians and socially and politically engaged artists was for a time compatible with television entertainment logic, this coexistence eventually proved too dangerous with the increasing political violence and the repressive military dictatorship that took power in Argentina from 1976 to 1983. Piero de Benedictis’s career as a popular musician is particularly illustrative of the tensions and transformations in Argentinean popular music during the 1960s and 1970s. Piero, as he is publicly known, immigrated to Argentina from Italy in 1951 at the age of three. He grew up in southern Argentina and completed his secondary studies at a catholic seminary, which at that time was highly influenced by the Second Vatican Council’s social approach to the Catholic Church. Having decided to pursue a career as a popular musician, Piero began performing Italian songs from the Sanremo Music Festival to Argentinean popular live studio shows. His participation in El Club del Clan in 1964 turned him into a well-known pop celebrity, but soon Piero decided to change his approach to music, composing songs more in tune with his social sensibilities (Del Guercio 2015). Towards the end of the 1960s, Piero joined forces with Argentinean poet and journalist Jose Tcherkaski and together they wrote many of Piero’s most popular songs, some of them explicitly anti-establishment. Piero’s music was a rare combination of balladic melodies and lyrics imbued with snapshots of daily life, social concern and humor. Throughout his career, Piero toured heavily in Latin America and established political relations with some of the progressive leaders of the region. His song “Mi Viejo”, a song about his hardworking aging father, composed together with Tcherkaski, made him a highly popular figure all over the continent (Del Guercio 2015). In Argentina, Piero continued to perform on the same television shows he had performed on before he became an “engaged” musician, but the increasing social and political unrest challenged the status quo of live television shows as mere entertainment. The mixture of popular music and social criticism with entertainment television is interestingly illustrated by a 1972 episode in which Piero confronted on camera the popular television host Pipo Mancera after singing a satirical song denouncing the links between television and cultural imperialism (Ulanovsky et al. 1999). Piero was eventually sent into exile for a couple of years by the military regime that took power in 1976, bringing to an end the particular popular music celebrity ecosystem that thrived from the 1960s until the middle of the 1970s in Argentina. The impressive success of the Argentinean TV program El Club del Clan had a direct impact on its giant neighbor. In 1965, Evandro Riveiro, the artistic director of CBS Brazil, together with Record TV, launched a television program, Jovem Guarda, which promoted a local version of rock and roll and youth culture (Froes 2000).The program was hosted by a young, promising Brazilian musician, Roberto Carlos, supported by his colleagues Erasmo Carlos and Wanderlea. After an initial failed attempt to follow in the footsteps of Bossa Nova’s founding father Joao Gilberto, Roberto Carlos embraced rock music, achieving remarkable success with his second and third 221

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albums in 1963 and 1964. However, it was after the television program Jovem Guarda was broadcasted in 1965 that Roberto Carlos became a truly mass phenomenon (de Araujo 2006). With an impressive career behind him, including huge numbers of record hits and sales, Roberto Carlos is considered one of the most popular Brazilian icons even today. Roberto Carlos’s career took off at the same moment the military regime was consolidating its power, radically transforming Brazil’s economy, politics and culture (Gaspari 2002). Roberto Carlos’s unpretentious pop-rock songs about love, passion and cars, with their electric-guitar sound, were seen by the more politicized sectors of Brazilian society as music attuned with the right-wing, pro-American, authoritarian Brazilian government (de Araujo 2006). In contrast to Roberto Carlos and his Jovem Guarda artists, other popular musicians, such as Geraldo Vandre, Elis Regina, Jair Rodrigues and Gilberto Gil, organized a 1967 protest against the use of electric guitars, calling on audiences to support “authentic” Brazilian music (Perrone 2002). More interesting in terms of celebrity culture and symbolic power, the disputes between the factions of musicians occurred as an almost direct consequence of the programming policy of the television channel Record, which gladly reaped the benefits of this rivalry in its ratings figures. According to several sources, in the face of the repressive military regime, the popular music festivals became relatively safe spaces where young audiences could channel their anger and frustration at their lack of civil liberties (Langlard 2006). It would be fair to argue that the Cold War had similar effects on Brazilian popular music and on the Olympic Games: it created a reliable rivalry with enormous potential to engage audiences using ideology, suspense and entertainment. Two significant factors helped end this conflict, which affected not only television broadcasting revenues, but also the careers of some of the most iconic figures in Brazilian popular music. First, a third group of musicians led by Caetano Veloso and his Tropicalist friends, including Gilberto Gil, Maria Bethania and Gal Costa, came out in support of the mixture of Brazilian rhythms and international pop music (Dunn 2001). The support of the Tropicalist group was crucial in breaking the polarization between “engaged” and “alienated” musicians and turning the Jovem Guarda music into a legitimate expression of Brazilian culture. Second, and perhaps more crucially, the military regime became more repressive and openly violent towards the opposition, beginning in 1968. Along with the prohibition of public political demonstrations, increasing institutional censorship had a heavy impact on live television broadcasting, bringing to an end the popular live television studio shows where “engaged” and “pop-rock” musicians had performed for Brazilian audiences (Ribke 2011, 2015). During this period of increased repression, major figures of Brazilian popular music were forced into exile, among them “engaged” musicians such as Geraldo Vandre and Chico Buarque, as well as the “more” eclectic Tropicalists Caetano Veloso and Gilberto Gil (Dunn 2001; Machado 2012).While many of the exiled musicians returned to Brazil and reestablished successful careers, the specific cultural and political configuration that linked live television shows, “engaged” and “alienated” pop musicians ceased to exist. During the 1970s, Roberto Carlos once again underwent a musical transformation, adopting romantic ballads as his preferred genre. From the start of his career in the 1960s and through the 1970s, Roberto Carlos continued to grow in popularity despite refraining, or maybe because he refrained, from political engagement. While Ortega and Roberto Carlos shared a common origin as popular youth icons born from the marriage of television and international record company marketing, their careers soon took divergent paths. While their talent as singers and composers, and their ability to appeal to international audiences, contributed a great deal to both artists’ popularity throughout the years, I argue that Ortega’s and Roberto Carlos’s iconic status was additionally influenced by the 222

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divergent political and cultural contexts in their respective countries, as well as by their own political engagement. Despite his conservative vision of the world, Roberto Carlos did not engage in explicit propaganda on behalf of the Brazilian military regime. In contrast, Palito Ortega’s active engagement on behalf of the bloodiest military regime in Argentinean history seriously affected his artistic career. As I explain in the following section, declining popularity in the entertainment industry, as in the case of Palito Ortega, was seen under the new neoliberal democratic regime as symbolic capital, attractive enough to launch a career in politics.

Celebrity politics, or the return of democracy under neo-liberal hegemony (1990–2000) The return of democracy during the middle of the 1980s brought a breath of fresh air to South American societies, lifting military rule and restoring civil liberties. However, the new civilian governments inherited broken states and serious economic crises, the results of fiscal mismanagement during authoritarian rule, but also of the broader tectonic political, economic and technological changes occurring in the global sphere (Stepan 1989). While both new and old generations of activists entered this post-authoritarian period with high expectations of renewed political debate and a revival of the political conviviality of the years preceding military rule, they were soon confronted with the limitations of democracy under the new global order. Media industries during this period were consolidated in the hands of private corporations that had cooperated with and thrived under the authoritarian regimes. In Brazil, the private Globo Network became an even stronger player in national politics, with several indiscreet interventions in the new political scene (Amorim and Passos 2005). In Argentina, the state-owned channels, which operated under a commercial logic during the authoritarian period, were privatized under the neo-liberal government of Carlos Menem (1990–1998), creating large cross-sectoral multimedia corporations (Falicov 2000). On the whole, both Brazilian and Argentinean political parties re-emerged from authoritarianism in a weaker position relative to powerful sectors of the economy such as the media and transnational corporations. Important leadership cadres had been killed, exiled or neutralized during military rule, and the new forces that emerged had to adapt to contend with the increasing role of the media in politics (Weyland 2003; Novaro 2000; Miguel 2003). While the mediatization of politics is by no means a specifically South American phenomenon, the legacy of the authoritarian period made the transition particularly abrupt. The election of presidential authorities who looked and behaved as members of the celebrity system, for example Carlos Menem in Argentina (1989–1999) and Fernando Collor de Mello in Brazil (1990–1992), is illustrative of the new tendencies in Latin American politics. The mediatization of politics was not confined solely to professional politicians during campaign periods, but instead expanded, eventually affecting the system as a whole. The passage of “outsiders” into the political field is perhaps one of the most visible manifestations of this process (Ribke 2015). Since the return of democracy, several celebrities in both Brazil and Argentina have been recruited to run for political office. In this section, I will discuss the passage of celebrities into politics and the connection between this phenomenon and the re-democratization process. In the previous section, we analyzed the impact of politics on the creation of popular musicians and their connection with local and international audiences during a period defined by dual and paradoxical processes. While the entertainment industry and popular culture shied away from the ideologies espoused during the previous two decades, the relationship between popular entertainers and politics actually became more intertwined despite, or perhaps because of, this de-politicization of civic society and culture. 223

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In Brazil, this trend was seen early on in the re-democratization process led by the withdrawing military regime during the late 1970s and early 1980s. Lacking the infrastructure and resources of established political parties, the emergent parties began to look for cheap and effective ways to connect with voters. The recruitment of the popular bolero singer Agnaldo Timoteo in 1982 by Lionel Brizola, a prominent and formerly exiled left-wing politician, is a clear example of this process. Despite his Afro-Brazilian roots and popularity among the lower classes, Timoteo’s candidacy for the office of federal deputy for the state of Rio de Janeiro was not the result of a long engagement with political activism, but rather an individualistic strategy to gain prestige and personal power. Silvio Santos’s failed candidacy for the 1989 presidential race could also be seen as an example of the celebritization of politics, and indeed of its limitations. A very popular host of live studio shows, and owner of a corporation whose holdings included media networks, construction companies and retail stores, Silvio Santos’s candidacy threatened to steal votes from the bigger political parties on both the left and the right. But despite his charisma and vast economic resources, Santos’s candidacy was blocked by the Supreme Electoral Court in a contentious verdict, in a move that could be interpreted as an attempt to limit the celebritization of politics. Thus, the most influential and prestigious offices remain in the exclusive possession of traditional political elites (Miguel 2003; Ribke 2015). During the last decade, Brazil saw several minor television celebrities transition to politics, including a fashion designer and television host (Clodovil Hernandes), a television clown (Tiririca), a reality television contest winner (Jean Wyllys), and a former football star (Romario). However, these C-list celebrities were elected to legislative posts representing small political parties, generally gaining more in visibility than power. With the exception of Jean Wyllys, former Big Bother Brazil 2005 winner, who was elected as a federal deputy representing the PSOL party (Socialism and Liberty Party), most celebrities turned politicians do not quit their media careers. In fact, the passage to politics seems to bolster celebrity entertainment careers, adding depth to their media personas. In Argentina, the celebritization of politics thrived during Carlos Menem’s two presidential terms (1989–1999). A traditional Peronist populist leader from La Rioja, a small and relatively underdeveloped eastern Argentinean province, Menem’s presidency was defined by deep neoliberal reforms that included the privatization of state-owned companies, de-regulation of media markets, the liberalization of the economy, and rampant corruption (Weyland 2003). Peppered with political and media scandals, this period was characterized by a permeability between the entertainment industry and the political sphere. The entrance of former sports and popularculture celebrities into Argentinean politics is perhaps one of the most visible traits of the new political, cultural and economic order in Latin America. Three of the most prominent celebrities to enter the political arena during this period were former Formula One pilot Carlos Reutemann, singer and actor Palito Ortega, and offshore powerboat racer Daniel Scioli. In contrast to their Brazilian counterparts, Argentinean celebrities who made the transition to politics enjoyed enduring careers in the political sphere. Despite mixed reactions to their service as public administrators, Reutemann, Scioli and Ortega were all elected governors of Argentinean provinces, and their names were seriously considered for presidential candidacy. In the 2015 presidential election, Scioli narrowly lost to Mauricio Macri, a businessman widely known for serving as president of the one of the most popular football teams in Argentina, the Boca Juniors. While Macri cannot be categorized as a celebrity athlete, he owes much of his status as a celebrity entrepreneur (Boyle and Kelley 2010) and his subsequent political career to the sporting achievements of the Boca Juniors during his tenure with the club (Vommaro 2014). 224

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While most Brazilian celebrities-turned-politicians were elected to relatively weakened legislative offices, Argentinean celebrities managed to reach executive offices with significant power and resources. When trying to explain the divergent political performances of Argentinean and Brazilian celebrities, we should consider not only the celebrity capital amassed during their careers in the cultural industries, but also their symbolic and material resources, such as ethnic and class extraction. In Argentina, successful celebrity politicians benefitted in their political endeavors from preexisting public images as prosperous businessmen. In contrast, most Brazilian celebrities who moved into politics came from low-status cultural industries, using their passage into politics as a way to maintain and even reinvigorate their entertainment careers.

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Mazzaferro, A. 2011. La “Nuevaolera”. Nuevos patrones de sexualidad y belleza en la televisión argentina (1962–1969). Revista Latinoamericana de Estudios sobre Cuerpos, Emociones y Sociedad (RELACES), 3(6): 54–69. McCann, B. 2004. Hello, Hello Brazil: Popular music and the making of modern Brazil. Durham, NC: Duke Univ. Press. Mendonça, A.R. 1999. Carmen Miranda foi a Washington. Rio de Janeiro: Editora Record. Miguel, L.F. 2003. Capital politico e carreira eleitoral:  Algumas variaveis na eleicao para o congresso brasileiro. Revista de Sociologia e Politica, 20(Jun): 115–134. Monsivais, C. 1985. De las relaciones literarias entre ‘alta cultura’y cultura popular. Texto Critico, 7(33): 46–61. Perrone, C.A. 2002. Nationalism, dissension and politics in contemporary Brazilian popular music. LusoBrazilian Review, 39(1): 65–78. Navitski, R. 2011. The Tango on Broadway:  Carlos Gardel’s international stardom and the transition to sound in Argentina. Cinema Journal, 51(1): 26–49. Novaro, M. 2000. El liderazgo menemista, los massmedia y las instituciones. Ecuador Debate. Política y los mass media, Quito: CAAP, 49: 165–204. Ortiz, R. 1988. A moderna tradição brasileira. São Paulo: Editora Brasiliense. Poppe, N. 2012. Made in Joinville: Transnational identitary aesthetics in Carlos Gardel’s early paramount films. Journal of Latin American Cultural Studies, 21(4): 481–495. Quijano, A. 2000. Colonialidad del poder, eurocentrismo y América Latina. Colonialidad del Saber, Eurocentrismo y Ciencias Sociales (pp. 201–246). Buenos Aires: CLACSO-UNESCO. Ribke, N. 2011. Decoding television censorship during the last Brazilian military regime: The censor as negotiator and censorship as a semi-open interpretative process. Media History, 17(1): 49–61. Ribke, N. 2015. A Genre Approach to Celebrity Politics: Global patterns of passage from media to politics. London: Palgrave Macmillan. Roberts, S. 1993.“The lady in the tutti-frutti hat”: Carmen Miranda, a spectacle of ethnicity. Cinema Journal, 32(3): 3–23. Sarlo, B. 1988. Una modernidad periférica: Buenos Aires, 1920 y 1930. Buenos Aires: Nueva Visión. Schpun, M.R. 2008. Carmen Miranda, uma “star” migrante. Revista de Antropologia, 451–471. Sinclair, J. 1998. Latin American Television: A global view. New York: Oxford Univ. Press. Stepan, A.C. 1989. Democratizing Brazil:  Problems of transition and consolidation. New  York:  Oxford Univ. Press. Ulanovsky, C., Itkin, S., and Sirvén, P. 1999. Estamos en el aire: Una historia de la televisión en la Argentina. Barcelona: Planeta. Varela, M. 2005. La televisión criolla:  Desde sus inicios hasta la llegada del hombre a la Luna, 1951–1969. Barcelona: Edhasa. Vommaro, G. 2014. Meterse en política: la construcción de pro y la renovación de la centroderecha argentina. Nueva Sociedad, 254: 57–72. Weyland, K. 2003. Neopopulism and Neoliberalism in Latin America:  How much affinity? Third World Quarterly, 1095–1115. Woll, A.L. 1974. Hollywood’s good neighbor policy: The Latin image in American Film, 1939–1946. Journal of Popular Film, 3(4): 278–293. Zolov, E. 1999. Refried Elvis: The rise of the Mexican counterculture. Oakland: Univ. of California Press.

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15 Celebrity philanthropy in China Rethinking cultural studies’ ‘Big Citizen’ critique Elaine Jeffreys

Introduction and background Chris Rojek (2014:  127) argues that cultural studies has overlooked ‘one of the keynote developments in modern culture over the last 30  years’:  namely, the rise of ‘charity projects fronted and, in the public mind, defined by celebrities’. Undermining this claim to perspicacity, Rojek (2014:  130) draws on a raft of scholarship to criticize what he calls ‘celanthropy’ for enabling privileged, unelected, non-expert ‘Big Citizens’ (celebrities) to articulate ‘stateless solutions’ to domestic and international problems such as poverty, inequality and pollution. In doing so, he claims to ‘pour a dose of cold water’ on the complacent, congratulatory tone that is arguably associated with celebrity philanthropy in the media, by showing that it crudifies public understanding of socio-economic problems, turns citizens into spectators and is ‘a modern reprise of “the white man’s burden”’, whereby celebrities court acclaim for seeming to ‘care’ about humanitarian causes, while colluding with the predatory interests of global capitalism (Rojek 2014: 131, 135). This style of argumentation is endorsed by other scholars in Cultural and Development Studies. Liza Tsaliki, Christos Frangonikolopoulos and Asteris Huliaras (2011) state that ‘Celebrity activism is an ever-growing, internationally visible phenomenon – yet the impact of these high-profile humanitarians on public awareness, government support and mobilization of resources remains under-researched’ (see back cover). Dan Brockington (2014: 88) declares that there ‘has been a proliferation of celebrity within development publicity, media events and representations, which has received little attention from development scholars’. Ilan Kapoor concludes that: [C]elebrity humanitarianism […] is most often self-serving […] it advances consumerism and corporate capitalism, and rationalizes the very global inequality it seeks to redress; it is fundamentally depoliticizing, despite its pretensions to ‘activism’; and it contributes to a ‘postdemocratic’ political landscape, which appears outwardly open and consensual, but is in fact managed by unaccountable elites. (Kapoor 2013: 1)

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This chapter reveals the Western-centric and homogenizing nature of the ‘Big Citizen critique’ with reference to the People’s Republic of China (PRC), an emerging Asian superpower that has only recently developed a market economy, a commercial celebrity culture and a philanthropic sector. It first provides a brief overview of the historical development of celebrity and philanthropy in the Western context, and outlines some of the key arguments provided by supporters and critics of celanthropy. It then explains why the terms ‘celebrity’ and ‘philanthropy’ had no meaning in the PRC until after the country adopted market-based economic reforms and a policy of opening up to the rest of the world in December 1978. Finally, it challenges the Big Citizen critique with reference to two Chinese case studies. The first case study involves a philanthropy scandal associated with the internationally acclaimed Chinese film star Zhang Ziyi, and the second involves shark-protection campaigns endorsed by the internationally acclaimed Chinese basketballer Yao Ming, and a range of national-level Chinese celebrities and corporate elites. I conclude that a more nuanced understanding of celanthropy would acknowledge that celebrity philanthropy may take different forms and have diverse effects in different historical, cultural and political contexts.

Celebrity and philanthropy: key terms and debate The significance of the word ‘celebrity’ may seem obvious given its common use, but it originally referred to the religious observance of rites and ceremonies, and hence pomp and solemnity, and gradually came to mean ‘the condition of being much extolled or talked about’, and thus being a famous or infamous individual (Jeffreys and Allatson 2015: 6). Celebrities today are variously objects of media and fan approval and disapproval/scandal, depending on whether their fame, which is continuously reassessed, is viewed as being founded on inherent talent or the media-fed trivia of personality and lifestyle. Daniel Boorstin (1972: 6), for example, denounces modernday celebrities on the grounds that ‘their chief claim to fame is their fame itself ’. Comparing contemporary celebrities in North America with former ‘heroes’, he concludes that ‘The hero created himself; the celebrity is created by the media. The hero was a big man; the celebrity is a big name’ (Boorstin 1972: 61). This (degenerative) conceptualization of mass-mediated celebrity is bound up with the history and ‘popularization’ of celebrity in the USA, with the inventions of silent cinema (late nineteenth century), sound movies (the late 1920s), broadcast television (the 1940s), the Internet (the late 1970s), and social media (the 2000s), playing a crucial role (Jeffreys 2012: 4). The creation of ‘talking’ pictures ushered in a new era of movie stars, with an accompanying focus on the physical attributes and media-created persona of the star. Broadcast television extended this process by creating television stars and ultimately making ‘ordinary’ people temporarily famous through the growth of reality television programming and associated interactive formats in the late 1990s and early 2000s. Graeme Turner (2004:  82) has coined the expression ‘the demotic turn’ to describe the increasing visibility of ‘ordinary people in the media’ and their apparent desire to celebritize themselves, through reality television, talk radio and user-generated materials online. Attempts to provide a definitive taxonomy or hierarchy of fame are complicated by the fact that new technologies are transforming the ways in which celebrity is created, traded and understood (Jeffreys and Allatson 2015: 6). Some celebrities have high levels of broadcast media visibility and are arguably known internationally. Others are celebrated at national levels or translocally through inter-continental diaspora networks and media.Yet others create their own fame through social media and appeals to niche markets and audiences.

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Celebrity is consequently better understood as an industry-coordinated ‘media process’ and ‘the celebrity’ as a commodity or sign that is ‘productively consumed by audiences and fans’ (Turner 2004:  20). That sign is ambiguous because ‘celebrity’ has multiple social functions, which may be conceived of differently in different historical and cultural contexts. In contemporary Western societies, celebrity is a means through which interested audiences think and talk about individual, social and cultural identities, and the nature of political-economic systems, as demonstrated by the Big Citizen expression. In Western contexts, the expansion of types of celebrities and celebrity-making opportunities has converged with the ‘massification’ of charity (Jeffreys and Allatson 2015: 7).The term ‘charity’, which originally denoted the proclaimed love of God for humanity, came to mean Christian love (man’s love of God and fellow human beings) and eventually benevolence to one’s neighbours, especially to the poor, and more generally love, kindness and natural affection, without any specially Christian associations (Jeffreys and Allatson 2015: 7). Charity as an organized response to human suffering has since developed negative connotations as demonstrated by phrases such as ‘I’d rather die than accept charity’ and ‘cold as charity’.The first phrase highlights the moral taint that is sometimes associated with charity as ‘hand-outs’ to groups of people who are presented as socially inferior, and the second refers to ‘the perfunctory, unfeeling manner in which acts of charity are often done, and public charities administered’ (Jeffreys and Allatson 2015: 7). Both phrases retain the original imprecise suggestion that ‘real charity’ stems from an ineffable love rather than being mechanical, obligatory, hierarchical or commercial. The negative and religious connotations of organized charity help to explain the growing preference for the synonym ‘philanthropies’ to describe modern legal charities, including non-governmental organizations (NGOs) and not-for-profits (NPOs). ‘Philanthropy’ also originally denoted God’s love of humankind, but now refers to the secular love of humanity as demonstrated through the disposition or active effort to promote the well-being of others, especially by donating time, money, goods and/or services to ‘good causes’ (Jeffreys and Allatson 2015: 7). Practitioners usually describe modern philanthropy in positive terms as referring to the development of the non-governmental sector and as business-style responses to the ‘big’ issues affecting humankind, whereas critics infer that philanthropies have become too impersonal and money-oriented, and reflect and perpetuate the structural inequalities of advanced capitalism. Supporters of celebrity philanthropy praise its ‘resourceful’ nature. The United Nations explains its growing number of celebrity ambassadors with reference to the publicity-grabbing nature of celebrity and the associated capacity of ‘fame’ to garner much-needed resources. As the website for UNICEF explains: Celebrities attract attention, so they are in a position to focus the world’s eyes on the needs of children, both in their own countries and by visiting field projects and emergency programmes abroad.They can make direct representations to those with the power to effect change. They can use their talents and fame to fundraise and advocate for children and support UNICEF’s mission to ensure every child’s right to health, education, equality and protection. (UNICEF n.d.) Economists Matthew Bishop and Michael Green (2008) also extol the resourceful nature of celebrity and corporate philanthropy in a book titled Philanthrocapitalism:  How the Rich Can Save the World, and Why We Should Let Them. Bishop and Green contend that neoliberal capitalism is ‘good’ and everyone ultimately will benefit from it. In the meantime, it is fortunate

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that (super-rich) entertainment and business celebrities, such as rock star Bono and Microsoft cofounder Bill Gates, are devoting their time, money and business acumen, to help make poverty history and stop AIDS. In the words of Bishop and Green: Philanthrocapitalists are ‘hyperagents’ who have the capacity to do some essential things far better than anyone else.They do not face elections every few years, like politicians, or suffer the tyranny of shareholder demands for ever-increasing profits, like CEOs of most public companies. Nor do they have to devote vast amounts of time and resources to raising money, like most heads of NGOs. That frees them to think long term, to go against conventional wisdom, to take up ideas too risky for government, to deploy substantial resources quickly when the situation demands it – above all, to try something new. (Bishop and Green 2008: 12) There is, however, no compelling reason why we should accept that Big Citizens can, as a practical matter, mobilize their own capital, and the capital of non-elites, in a way that will end the world’s ‘problems’ more rapidly and effectively than the ways practised by elected governments, fundraising NPOs and less famous individuals. Bishop and Green are simply asking for faith in the system. Critics focus instead on the commodified and perceived inauthentic and hypocritical nature of Big Citizen philanthropy as an example of ‘bad’ capitalism, consumerism and media spectacle at work. Rojek (2014: 132–135) argues that an enclave of A-list celanthropists are an increasingly notable and ‘unelected’ part of ‘national and trans-national extra-parliamentary politics’, who use the media to court acclaim and manipulate citizens into providing resources, which are frequently misappropriated, for private projects that pay lip service to addressing global equality, but bolster vested corporate, government and media interests. Lisa Ann Richey and Stefano Ponte (2011) condemn ‘causumerism’ – the purchase of a product, usually celebrity endorsed, for which a percentage of the profits goes to a ‘good cause’  – as a populist co-branding exercise that privileges ‘whiteness’, consumerism and capitalist accumulation by enabling Western celebrities and corporations to ‘speak for’ and profit from suffering people in developing countries. Kapoor (2013: 80) concludes that celanthropy democratizes philanthropy only to depoliticize its assumed traditional emphasis on compassionate benevolence and social change. Instead, ‘our enjoyment of the celebrity spectacle’ and ‘consumption of charity products’ helps to prop up both ‘celebrities as powerful political figures’ and global neoliberalism (Kapoor 2013: 4). These criticisms imply that celebrity-mediated philanthropy refers to a new and corrupted form of philanthropy, when the links in Western societies between international humanitarianism, entertainment and consumption-based philanthropy are both formative and longstanding. Kevin Rozario (2003: 427) details how World War One and the imperatives of war-time relief turned amateur charity organizations such as the American Red Cross into national and professional fundraising entities that resembled efficient corporations: ‘hiring directors, recruiting teams of trained canvassers, planning campaigns, employing strict accounting methods, and developing the sort of door-to-door solicitation strategies’ that make it difficult for ‘ordinary’ members of the public to avoid making small donations. Such organizations also began to pay attention to the ‘science of publicity’ and the question of ‘how to appeal’ to broad sectors of the population (Rozario 2003: 427–428). They began to exploit the opportunities presented by an emerging ‘mass culture of movies and mass-circulation newspapers’ to ‘beguile’ millions of people of modest means into ‘acts of benevolence’ (Rozario 2003: 423, 429). The American Red Cross, ‘which was initially granted exclusive control over the distribution of government war films’, 230

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began to promote international humanitarianism alongside often racist wartime propaganda and scenes of violence and human suffering (Rozario 2003: 432). It also recruited Broadway and Hollywood stars to promote mass fundraising drives and dramatically boosted sales of its magazine by running stories of bravery, suffering and sacrifice, alongside advertisements urging its readers to serve humanity by buying products from its sponsors, including Wrigley chewing gum and Lucky Strike cigarettes (Rozario 2003: 437–439). As Rozario (2003: 419) concludes, international humanitarianism only became a mass phenomenon when philanthropy became a commercial marketing venture and when ‘donors began to be treated and courted as consumers who had to be entertained’. Hence, while the Big Citizen critique usefully counters overly laudatory accounts of celebrity philanthropy, it offers what Michel Foucault (2008: 187) calls an inflationary mode of critique. It moralizes about the self-interested incentives of A-list celebrities in place of considering the practical and varied effects of celebrity philanthropy in different contexts, and idealizes an imagined pure humanitarian motive for philanthropy by default. It also homogenizes celebrities, and the assumed motivations, and effects, of celebrity-corporate philanthropy within the overarching narrative that all forms of elite philanthropy uphold an oppressive ‘global governing regime’ and suppress ‘exploration of more radical alternatives’ (Kapoor 2013: 120). As a result, this mode of critique does very little to advance the goals of Cultural and Development Studies, namely, to explain the specific processes through which diverse societies, and the groups of people that comprise them, come to terms with history, community life and the challenges of the future. This point is underscored by the different example of China.

Celebrity philanthropy in China: the historical context ‘Celebrity’ and ‘philanthropy’ in the contemporary sense of those words did not exist in mainland China until after the PRC government abandoned (socialist) centralized economic planning in favour of (socialist) market-based economic reforms in December 1978. After the PRC was founded under the leadership of the Chinese Communist Party in 1949, state control over the broadcast media guaranteed that the Chinese media served as the ‘voice’ of the Communist Party, communicating Party-state ideology and policies, and promoting revolutionary heroes rather than ‘celebrities’ as public role models (Jeffreys and Edwards 2010:  3). Revolutionary hostility also ensured that elite groups  – landed gentry, entrepreneurs, religious and cultural figures, and opposing political and military leaders  – ceased to exist as significant agents of governance, drivers of economic enterprise and formers of local opinion (Hassid and Jeffreys 2015: 81). Throughout the Mao era (1949–1976), private enterprise and the accrual of substantial private wealth were held in check by state ownership and allocation of public resources, involving agrarian land redistribution and collectivization, curtailing the monetary economy and nationalizing industry. Hence, the only identifiable elite group in the early PRC consisted of Communist Party members in positions of authority and CCP-endorsed PRC-supporters. New elite groups, composed of private entrepreneurs and commercial entertainment and sports stars, have emerged in China along with the development of a market economy and an increasingly commercialized media (Hassid and Jeffreys 2015: 81; Jeffreys 2016). Economic reform has contributed to the development of a celebrity culture in China in part by creating a generalized increase in individual income levels, which encouraged the development of a consumer society (Jeffreys and Edwards 2010: 3). Increasing prosperity led to a growth in the quality and variety of products available for purchase. The reforms also generated rapid urbanization, which, when combined with the gradual integration of the PRC into the global economy, has produced urban popular culture phenomena, such as youth-oriented fashion 231

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brands, profit-seeking entertainment and sports events, nightclubs and bars, and virtual social networks. Another important factor contributing to the emergence of a celebrity culture in China is the partial liberalization of the state-controlled media that followed the economic reforms, and the subsequent growth of large-scale mass media industries and commercial advertising (Jeffreys and Edwards 2010:  3). Controls over the dissemination of non-political information became more relaxed in China throughout the 1990s. Then, in 2003, the PRC government stipulated that state-subsidized newspapers and magazines must earn at least half of their revenue from private subscriptions. It also introduced a series of regulations designed to make China’s television stations more competitive, partly in response to the dramatic growth in numbers of television viewers as the purchasing power of individuals increased, which stimulated investment in new stations and the extension of broadcasting hours. Soft news and entertainment, including tabloid and celebrity formats, have multiplied as a means to attract audiences and advertisers. This trend has developed through the growth of cable networks, private internet content providers, and cross-investment by China’s media into other commercial enterprises, including joint ventures with international media conglomerates (Jeffreys and Edwards 2010: 3). China now has A-list international film and sports stars, such as Zhang Ziyi and Yao Ming, and is one of the top countries in the world for celebrity endorsements. In 2013, Li Yuchun, a Chinese Idol-style reality television competitor, won the MTV-EMA Worldwide Act music award, beating other nominees, such as popstar Justin Bieber, with over 100 million online votes. Zhang Ziyi, Yao Ming and Li Yuchun have had major endorsements with multinational companies (Maybelline, Reebok and Coca Cola respectively). They are also among the first generation of celebrity philanthropists in the PRC. Philanthropy, like commercial celebrity, is a new phenomenon in the PRC. Western-style conceptions of organized philanthropy emerged in the PRC in the mid-1990s. In 1994, the People’s Daily, the official voice of the Chinese Communist Party, ran a story about the government-sponsored establishment of a charity federation, which noted that its readers were probably seeing the Chinese-language characters ‘cishan’ (charity/philanthropy) for the first time (Jeffreys 2015:  573). That statement is confirmed by a search for the keyword ‘cishan’ in the People’s Daily between 1949 and 2012. The search obtained fewer than 3,500 hits, with nearly 3,000 hits occurring after 1990, and more than 2,000 of those occurring in the 2000s (Jeffreys 2015: 574). As these figures suggest, in the wake of policies that decentralized the economy, a space was created for philanthropies and private service providers to supplement the role of government in providing social services. During the Mao era, charity was virtually eliminated as the Communist Party eliminated opposition elite groups and became the main conduit of public services and help for the needy (Hassid and Jeffreys 2015: 81). Citizens of ‘new China’ were assigned as workers to rural agricultural collectives and urban work-units, which provided basic education, healthcare and housing. Economic reform and the growing demand for mobile labour, which led to the dismantling of the rural collectives and urban work-units, meant that the Party-state could no longer supply the basic services to employees and retirees that had been the norm. The PRC government faced the costly option of developing a ‘modern’ welfare system from scratch. Since the 2000s, the PRC government has responded to the social demand for enhanced service provision in part by encouraging corporate-celebrity philanthropy and volunteering (Hassid and Jeffreys 2015: 82). China’s three five-year plans for national economic and social development between 2001 and 2015 advocated developing philanthropies in an escalating fashion to supplement the country’s inadequate social security system in the context of an ageing population (Hassid and Jeffreys 2015: 82). To facilitate this agenda, the PRC government has 232

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altered the regulatory framework controlling organized philanthropy so as to rapidly develop an indigenous non-profit sector, while maintaining restrictions on international donors and NGOs (Jeffreys 2015: 574). Government-organized non-governmental organizations (GONGOs) dominated China’s non-profit sector until the mid-2000s, when the State Council issued regulations permitting the registration of two different types of foundations:  (1) public fundraising foundations, which can raise funds from the public and are usually GONGOs; and (2)  non-public fundraising foundations, which are not permitted to raise funds from the public and must rely on private funding from wealthy individuals.This has encouraged the development of a foundation sector that is not ostensibly organized by government departments, even though most non-public foundations support government welfare objectives. In 2004, there were fewer than 900 public foundations and no non-public foundations in China; by mid-2016, there were more than 4,900 foundations, comprising around 1,550 public foundations and 3,375 non-public foundations (foundationcenter.org.cn/). The central government also allocated funds of CNY 200 million to support the development of domestic NGOs in 2012 (Jeffreys 2015: 574). In March 2016, the PRC’s legislature confirmed the new-found importance of philanthropy by approving the nation’s first Charity Law. The aim is to massively expand the not-for-profit sector by using tax incentives to create a system of registered private industry, trade and professional associations, and urban and rural community organisations that will support, and perhaps even replace, many of the government’s social welfare and public charity functions, by 2020. These changes herald a new degree of separation between ‘government’ and ‘society’. The PRC’s Ministry of Civil Aff airs has also encouraged corporate and celebrity philanthropy through a system of prestigious annual charity awards established in 2005 (Jeffreys 2015: 575). Awards are presented to government officials and other individuals for their charitable activities, while private entrepreneurs and leaders of state-owned enterprises receive awards for the largest donations to charitable causes. President Hu Jintao became the first leader of the PRC to present philanthropy as important to the country’s modernization when he announced the annual winners in December 2008 (Jeffreys 2015: 575). Hu’s speech, which called for the development of a philanthropic culture in China, was delivered in the aftermath of the May 2008 Sichuan earthquake, a catastrophe estimated to have killed 70,000 people and which left 5 million homeless. The earthquake is also credited with putting philanthropy ‘on the map’ in China, with donations in 2008 exceeding the total for the previous decade (Jeffreys 2015: 575). Celebrities are more commonly listed on the China Charity Ranking (Zhongguo cishan bang) and China Celebrity Philanthropist List (Zhongguo cishan mingren bang) (Jeffreys 2015:  575). Launched by the government-sponsored China Philanthropy Times in 2005, the China Charity Rankings recognize corporations and entrepreneurs based on the extent of their donations and celebrities for raising public awareness of good causes through media publicity. In 2013, an independent magazine called the China Philanthropist (Zhongguo Cishanjia) issued the first China Celebrity Philanthropist List, which also recognizes celebrities for raising public awareness of philanthropy. Hence, as in Western societies, it appears that China’s celebrities are now valued for their perceived capacity to promote public awareness of and support for philanthropic causes via the media (Hassid and Jeffreys 2015: 83). Figure  15.1 illustrates the rapid growth of Chinese press interest in ‘celebrity’ and ‘philanthropy’ since the mid-2000s. Data were obtained by conducting a search for the keywords ‘mingxing’ (celebrity) and ‘cishan’ (philanthropy) on the China Core Newspaper Full-text Database of the China Knowledge Resource Integrated Database (CNKI), a database of over 700 Chinese 233

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'000

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Figure 15.1 Chinese press coverage of ‘Celebrity’ and ‘Philanthropy’ (2000–2013). Source:  China Core Newspaper Databases, Beijing:  Tsinghua Tongfang Optical Disc Co., accessed 14 August 2014.

newspapers since 2000 (cnki.net.cn).The left-hand side of the figure indicates that Chinese press coverage of the words ‘celebrity’ and ‘philanthropy’ has grown significantly since 2000 (by more than five and nearly twenty times respectively). The right-hand side indicates that press coverage of the phrase ‘celebrity philanthropy’ has also grown significantly since 2000, albeit at a lower level in terms of absolute numbers of hits. The figure also suggests that the use of the Chinese terms ‘cishan’ and ‘mingxing’ as a means to describe ‘philanthropy’ increased between 2009 and 2011, reflecting celebrity involvement with philanthropic efforts associated with the aftermath of the 2008 Sichuan earthquake and the 2010 Yushu earthquake. Chinese media interest in celebrity philanthropy reflects both the growth of the PRC’s commercial celebrity industry and the dominance of government-affiliated charities (Jeffreys 2015:  575). The biggest charities in China are either GONGOs or government-endorsed international NGOs, and celebrity agents typically liaise with large charities because they have the staff and resources needed to handle celebrities. Government policies and censorship controls also encourage Chinese media organizations to provide positive coverage of particular social issues at particular times (and to neglect others). For example, the PRC’s Five-Year Action Plan for Preventing and Controlling HIV/AIDS (2011–2015) encouraged the use of celebrities in ‘easy-to-understand’ public service announcements about HIV prevention (Jeffreys 2015: 576). Although the PRC government encourages positive media coverage of corporate and celebrity philanthropy, the motivations and ‘authenticity’ of China’s Big Citizens as donors and fund-raisers have been criticized in multiple media. As the next section shows, actor Zhang Ziyi became the focus of widespread media coverage and public condemnation in 2010 after 234

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she allegedly defaulted on a donation pledge to the Sichuan earthquake disaster-relief funds. Other entertainment stars and numerous corporations were similarly accused in online forums of failing to deliver on publicized pledges and hence ‘dishonest advertising’. Such controversy brings into question the assumption that Big Citizen philanthropy offers an easy, self-serving and unaccountable way of obtaining publicity and staying famous.

Case study 1: Zhang Ziyi and the politics of celanthropy in China While critics claim that celebrity philanthropy is a cynical branding exercise that promotes unaccountable elites and thrives on adoring (apolitical) fans (Kapoor 2013; Rojek 2014), wealthy individuals who engage in mediatized philanthropic activities in the PRC are subject to intense public scrutiny. Rather than exposing the self-centred egoism of China’s Big Citizens, the nature of that scrutiny highlights the politicized nature of wealth, fame and philanthropy in the Chinese context.This point is demonstrated by a philanthropy scandal associated with A-lister Zhang Ziyi. In 2010, Zhang Ziyi became the focus of intense public scrutiny in the PRC for allegedly defaulting on a pledged donation of CNY 1 million to the Sichuan earthquake disaster-relief funds. Zhang’s ‘failed pledge’ led fans and critics to accuse her in multiple media of charity fraud and bringing shame on the Chinese nation (Jeffreys 2011:  4). Dubbed ‘donation-gate’, the associated controversy obliged Zhang Ziyi to give an exclusive interview to the state-run China Daily and engage in renewed philanthropic endeavours, in an effort to clear her name (Zhou 2010). On 12 May 2008, when the Sichuan earthquake took place, Zhang Ziyi was at the Cannes International Film Festival. Upon hearing of that disaster, Zhang initiated three philanthropic activities. Zhang announced that she would donate CNY 1  million to the relief funds; she established the USA-based Ziyi Zhang Foundation and asked for public donations to support the work of the Chinese Red Cross Foundation; and she hosted a fundraising event, which journalists claimed had raised somewhere between USD 500,000 and seven million dollars (Jeffreys 2011: 5). In January 2010, Zhang Ziyi was criticized initially on social media for allegedly defaulting on her pledge and misrepresenting her other philanthropic activities. A post on the popular Tianya bulletin board system claimed that Zhang had only provided CNY 840,000 of the pledged one million. This prompted other members of the public to contact the PRC’s Ministry of Civil Affairs, the Chinese Red Cross Foundation and other organizations, in efforts to verify (or disprove) Zhang’s philanthropic track record (Zhou 2010). Apart from confirming that Zhang Ziyi had only donated CNY 840,000 to the disaster-relief funds, these investigations revealed that money raised by Zhang at Cannes amounted to the paltry sum of USD 1,300 – not the more than 500,000 reported in the media. The Ziyi Zhang Foundation was subsequently called into disrepute as a front for charity fraud and personal profiteering (Zhou 2010). Zhang Ziyi’s failure to respond immediately and satisfactorily to public criticisms sparked widespread debate on social media. Apart from blog postings, online videos were posted in both English and Chinese on YouTube demanding that Zhang account for her actions (Jeffreys 2011: 7). An open letter was also posted in Chinese on the People’s Daily website on 1 March 2010, asking Zhang to answer donation-related questions and make her philanthropic records available to the public. That letter informed the actress that ‘netizens-cum-detectives’ would ensure that she could no longer ‘hide’ behind the laws of other countries and take advantage of the ‘tolerance’ of the Chinese people. Zhang Ziyi’s international celebrity is reflected in the bilingual nature of these activities, which encouraged further commentary in broadcast and social media. 235

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Faced with mounting criticisms of her ‘fake philanthropy’, Zhang Ziyi gave an exclusive interview to the China Daily on 12 March 2010. In that interview, the transcript of which was posted on the China Daily’s website in both English and Chinese, Zhang affirmed that she had donated CNY 1 million from her personal finances to the Chinese Red Cross Foundation for the disaster-relief funds (Zhou 2010b). Following two initial payments amounting to CNY 840,000, she had made up the shortfall of CNY 160,000 on 8 February 2010. Zhang attributed the delay to her failure to follow  up on instructions that she had given to staff and denied accusations of fraud. Regarding confusion about monies raised in Cannes, Zhang stated that she had only raised USD 1,300 in cash because of the hasty nature of that fundraising event. Although only USD 39,000 of pledges amounting to USD 400,000 had been honoured, she was negotiating a project with pledged donors, whose names she was unable to reveal for privacy reasons. Zhang further insisted that she had never tried to enhance her image by intimating that she had raised millions of dollars – the figures had been arbitrarily cited by journalists. Zhang maintained that she had kept silent about the controversy for two months because she had hired a team of USA-based lawyers to investigate the issues raised by China’s netizens (Zhou 2010). However, she was now in a position to confirm that there had never been anything untoward about the running of the Ziyi Zhang Foundation. Monies pledged to that Foundation through Zhang’s fundraising efforts were earmarked for the building of a children’s centre in Deyang City, Sichuan Province, under the auspices of the UK-based international charity Care for Children. As relevant government authorities had only approved that project in November 2009, the building of the centre had not started and hence Care for Children had not received any funding from the Ziyi Zhang Foundation. Pledges would be honoured and funds would be transferred once the building work began, which according to subsequent press releases took place on 1 June 2010. Zhang Ziyi concluded the interview by saying that the scandal had taught her five things about celebrity philanthropy (Jeffreys 2011: 8). First, it needs a professional team. Second, celebrities have a duty to engage in philanthropy precisely because they have a public profile. Third, this necessitates a mediatized rather than anonymous approach. Fourth, celebrities should ‘give back’ because their achievements are the result of time and money invested by the Chinese nation and people. Finally, the public has a right to know within ethical limits about the private lives of celebrities. However, celebrities are ordinary people and not moral exemplars, even though their public standing as representatives of China requires them to conduct themselves as perfectly as possible. In short, Zhang Ziyi affirmed that she had a social obligation, as both a celebrity and patriot, to engage in high-profile philanthropic activities, and she vowed to respond to public exposure of her inexperience by righting her errors. In June 2010, Zhang Ziyi made good on that claim by appearing in the earthquake-affected area of Deyang City to announce that work had begun on building a centre for orphans and homeless children, with funding coming from honoured pledges made at her Cannes fundraising drive. Reportedly choking back her tears, the actor expressed relief that the project had finally begun after two years of hard work (Jeffreys 2011: 9). Although some netizens insisted that their actions had obliged the actress to fulfil her promises by exposing her cynical efforts to ‘cash in’ on the emotions associated with the Sichuan earthquake, the available evidence suggests a more complicated story. Contrary to the accusations levelled against her, Zhang’s involvement in the Deyang project was confirmed in a press release by the Care for the Children organization as early as 8 February 2010 (Jeffreys 2011: 9). A more plausible explanation for that scandal is the one Zhang provided in the interview with the China Daily (Zhou 2010). She had neither the experience nor the professional team required 236

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to manage the issues and delays imposed by the lack of a developed institutional framework for philanthropy in China. In any case, the ‘fall-out’ from the donation-gate scandal indicates that it offers more than a tale of individual celebrity redemption. Concerned netizens promptly proceeded to question the disaster-relief efforts of a wide range of Chinese celebrities. Basketballer Yao Ming was criticized for initially pledging CNY 500,000, which was viewed as insignificant compared to his reported earnings of nearly CNY 57 million in 2007. Actress Li Bingbing was accused of only donating CNY 500 out of a pledged contribution of 300,000. Actress Zhao Wei reportedly gave CNY 20,000 of a 100,000 pledge and actor Liu Xiaoqing was criticized for donating CNY 4,300 rather than 100,000 as promised (Jeffreys 2011: 10). As the proliferating nature of such allegations suggests, celebrity philanthropy in China is a political affair. The Zhang Ziyi ‘donation-gate’ scandal underscores the politicized nature of fame and philanthropy in the Chinese context. It suggests that the legacies of the Mao era have encouraged an emphasis on philanthropy understood as a social obligation of the wealthy and famous. Celebrities in China are expected to ‘give back more’ precisely because they have surplus money and brand power. At the same time, it is assumed that their philanthropic activities should be open to public scrutiny because their money and status require them to accept responsibility for leading positive social change. This remains the case even though the structural problems associated with the undeveloped nature of the PRC’s philanthropic sector prevent them from ‘doing philanthropy professionally’, thereby placing them at risk of public censure. The proliferation of celebrity–philanthropy scandals on interactive media formats further indicates that China’s netizens view public criticism as a positive incitement for Big Citizens to do more and better rather than a potential or actual discouragement. The obligation of wealthy individuals to ‘give back’ in China undermines the voluntary principle of philanthropy in Western societies, and the assumption that celebrities and corporations are free to determine how much of their resources they wish to use on public endeavours. If wealthy individuals are obliged to give back more and publicly, rather than doing so voluntarily based on formal business assessments and personal sentiment, then, mediatized philanthropy becomes a different and largely unexamined means of ensuring the redistribution of wealth. Alternatively, it can be viewed as placing a populist and informal ‘tax’ on fame and success. Either way, critiques that presuppose a capricious, unregulated freedom on the part of celebrity philanthropists as Big Citizens lose some of their force in the Chinese context. The different example of shark-protection campaigns further suggests that celebrity and corporate activism in China may expand rather than constrict the space for public discussion of alternative policies and politics in the context of one-party rule.

Case study 2: politicizing consumption via celebrity-corporate shark activism Discussions of the perceived benefits and downsides of celebrity-endorsed environmental communication are often conducted within the same parameters as the Big Citizen debate. Supporters argue that leveraging ‘fame’ helps to raise public awareness of environmental issues and organizations by generating media publicity, demystifying campaign issues, and attracting new audiences and sponsorship (Goodman 2013: 73). Critics such as Mike Goodman (2013: 72–92) argue that celebrity-endorsed environmentalism is a self-serving branding exercise that simplifies environmental issues by providing enviro-tainment, and individualizes environmental concerns by turning them into individual consumer choices rather than seeing them as ‘big’ political issues. In the context of China, however, where the Communist Party primarily decides ‘what 237

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is important (or not to fix and save and how to specifically govern […] social and environment problems (or not))’ (Goodman 2013:  88), celebrity-endorsed environmental communication may allow new voices to be heard and new concerns to be raised, as demonstrated by the case of shark-protection campaigns. Yao Ming, a retired star player with the US National Basketball Association, is the celebrity face of an environmental communication campaign led by WildAid, an international conservation NGO, to stop the consumption of shark-fin soup in Chinese restaurants worldwide. WildAid claims that ‘fins from up to 73 million sharks’ are used every year for shark-fin soup (‘Sharks’ n.d.). Some of these sharks are finned alive and then thrown back into the ocean to drown or bleed to death, because the fins have more commercial value than the rest of the shark. China’s growing prosperity means that more people can now afford to serve at celebratory banquets a ‘once rare and expensive delicacy’, which was traditionally prepared for emperors (‘Sharks’ n.d.).This increasing consumption threatens to destroy a 400-million-year-long balance of ocean marine life by making one-third of open-ocean shark populations extinct.Yet shark fin reportedly has no flavour or nutritional and medicinal value, and consuming shark fin may be unhealthy because shark fins contain high concentrations of mercury and other toxins (‘Sharks’ n.d.). Using the now standard marketing practices of international NGOs, WildAid has enlisted celebrity spokespersons to generate media publicity for its Shark Conservation Program, which advocates anti-shark finning legislation and attempts to dissuade consumers worldwide from purchasing shark-fin products. WildAid launched its China-focused campaign to coincide with the run-up to the 2008 Beijing Olympic Games, thus the early stages of the campaign featured sports stars.Yao Ming signed a WildAid pledge not to eat shark fin in 2006 and declared to a press conference in 2007 that shark-fin soup would not be served at his forthcoming wedding celebrations (‘Timeline for shark protection efforts’ 2011). Chinese Olympic athletes also featured in WildAid conservation messages that were shown on cable networks and disseminated through government advertising outlets, including taxi and inflight video monitors, video billboards at airports, shopping centres and subway stations and printed advertisements at transport hubs. Yao Ming subsequently featured as a solo spokesperson in two Public Service Advertisements (PSAs) produced for WildAid in English and Chinese, and targeting both Western- and Chinabased audiences. The first PSA, which was distributed in late 2009, opens with interior images of an upscale Chinese restaurant with a wall-to-wall aquarium. It asks: ‘What if you could see how shark fin soup is made?’ As a waiter brings bowls of soup to put on a table, the viewer sees blood gushing from the cut-off fins of a still-alive shark lying at the bottom of the aquarium. An anonymous narrator says: ‘If you could see how each year up to 70 million sharks are killed to end up in soup … could you still eat it?’ The camera pans to shots of ethnically Chinese diners looking at the bleeding shark. Yao Ming pushes away the bowl of soup in front of him. The narrator states: ‘A third of all shark species are nearly extinct but we can help save them’. As other diners begin to push away their bowls, Yao Ming concludes by speaking the WildAid tagline: ‘Remember when the buying stops, the killing can too’ (WildAid PSA 2009). The second Yao Ming PSA, ‘The Price of Shark Fin Soup’, which was distributed in 2011, opens with an image of Yao Ming looking over a sunny San Francisco Bay.Yao states: ‘What is the price of shark fin soup? If we keep killing tens of millions of sharks each year just for soup, it will change life in our oceans forever’ (WildAid PSA 2011). The camera then pans to an apocalyptic shot of a dry landlocked basin that has replaced the blue saltwater bay. Yao continues: ‘Is this the world we want to leave our children? Together we can save the oceans. Let’s keep sharks in our oceans, not in our soup’. 238

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Journalists credit Yao Ming and WildAid’s programme for contributing to the 2011 introduction of controversial bans on the sale, consumption and possession of shark fins in the US state of California and the Canadian city of Toronto – areas with a high proportion of ethnically Chinese residents. Although the Toronto ban was overturned, the Californian ban was upheld and came into effect on 1 July 2013 (Rogers 2013). The European Union also agreed to ban shark finning on all vessels in EU waters and all EU-registered vessels around the world in June 2013. WildAid’s shark-protection collaborations with Chinese national-level celebrities and celebrity CEOs are, perhaps, less well-known outside of China and Chinese diaspora networks. In February 2012, WildAid brought the issue of shark protection to the attention of millions of Chinese television viewers via a Saturday-night family variety show called Happy Camp, which is hosted by celebrities He Jiong, Li Weijia, Xie Na, Du Haitao and Wu Xin. The Happy Camp hosts interviewed Sun Shaowu, a famous Chinese underwater photographer, about his travel and shark photography, while also promoting the WildAid sharkprotection messaging. The Happy Camp celebrities subsequently featured in a 2013 PSA for WildAid titled ‘I’m FINished With Fins’, which the celebrities promoted through personal appearances at shopping malls and postings on Chinese social media and video-sharing websites (Shipin: kuailejiazu wo yu yuchi n.d.). The PSA shows the Happy Camp hosts placing their hands over their mouths to indicate their refusal to eat shark-fin soup. He Jiong says: ‘every year around 73 million sharks are killed tragically for the fin trade’. Du Haitao notes: ‘many shark species are threatened with extinction’. Xie Na states: ‘sharks are apex predators and play an important role in the balance of marine life’. Li Weijia and Wujin each say a part of the following phrase: ‘stop eating shark fin for the health of humans and the oceans’. The Happy Camp hosts conclude:  ‘Together, everyone together:  I’m FINished With Fins’. The video ends with Xie Na and He Jiong adding the WildAid tagline. The I’m FINished With Fins campaign attracted the support of numerous other Chinese celebrities, attracting the proclaimed interest of 360,000 viewers (Cheng 2013). In July 2012, WildAid also premiered a Chinese-language shark-protection PSA featuring five celebrity CEOs: Huang Nubo (Beijing Zhongkun Investment Group), Feng Lun (Beijing Vantone Real Estate), Li Dongsheng (TCL Corporation), Hu Baosen (Jianye Real Estate) and Wei Xue (China Public Relations and Consultants). The PSA opens with the CEOs sitting around a dining table and asks: ‘When these business leaders come together, what do they talk about?’ ‘We must plan for the future’, says Li Dongsheng; ‘We must protect our assets’, says Hu Baosen; ‘We must think globally and act locally’, says Huang Nubo; ‘We must make the world proud of China’, says Wei Xue; ‘We must protect our oceans by not eating shark fin’, says Feng Lun (Shipin:  yesheng jiuyuan 2012). The PSA concludes with the WildAid tagline, implying that those Chinese people who seek to be financially successful, patriotic, cosmopolitan and acclaimed are forward-thinking and not tradition-bound; they can save the world’s oceans by choosing not to eat a dish once prepared for emperors. The four male CEOs are members of the China Entrepreneur Club (CEC), an NPO founded in 2006 with the mission of involving China’s new business and social elites in sustainable development, which has organized numerous shark-protection activities (Jeffreys 2016: 64). In 2008, the CEC and China’s Ocean University released a ‘shark fin nutrition report’, stating that shark fin has no known nutritional or medicinal value, and contains high levels of lead and mercury. In April 2009, the CEC celebrated the fortieth anniversary of Earth Day by launching a ‘Protect Sharks: Don’t Eat Shark Fin’ initiative. As part of that initiative, celebrity CEOs such as Wang Shi (2009) posted ‘Don’t Eat Shark Fin’ messages on their blogs – Wang’s blog is read by over 31 million people. With the support of the CEC, other organizations implemented a range of 239

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shark-protection initiatives in different cities across the PRC between late 2011 and early 2013, under the slogans ‘No Shark-Fin Soup for 2012 New Year’s Banquets’ and ‘Create Zero-SharkFin Cities: Don’t Eat in Shark-Fin Restaurants’. In March 2012, Ding Liguo, a CEC member, billionaire-philanthropist and Chair of Delong Steel, submitted a proposal to the annual meeting of the National People’s Congress, the PRC’s legislature, recommending that relevant government departments set an international example of good practice by banning shark-fin soup at state-funded banquets (Jeffreys 2016: 64).The annual meeting of the NPC, which involves around 3,000 elected representatives who are preselected by the Communist Party, is widely viewed as a ‘rubber-stamp organization’ for Party decisions. However, delegates are expected to contribute to policy formulation at the NPC, which can sometimes result in the introduction of new policies, as demonstrated by the response to Ding Liguo’s proposal. A reply from the administrative office of the State Council dated 16 June 2012 stated that legislation would result by 2015 (Jeffreys 2016: 64). On 8 December 2013, the Central Committee of the Communist Party of China and the State Council issued the Regulations on Domestic Official Hospitality for Party and Government Organs. Article 9 states that: ‘Official dinners should not involve: high-end cuisine or dishes that contain shark fin, bird’s nest, or any protected animal; cigarettes and premium drinks; the use of private clubs; and high consumption costs’ (Jeffreys 2016: 64). The introduction of a ban on shark-fin consumption at state-funded banquets highlights the potential for environmental NGOs and celebrity-corporate activists to influence domestic governance in China, even though the ban cannot be directly attributed to their activities. In December 2012, incoming President Xi Jinping introduced measures to improve the work habits of government employees and reduce corruption, including curbing extravagant spending (Jeffreys 2016:  65). The State Council presumably agreed to consider Ding Liguo’s proposal because the highest echelons of the Communist Party had already committed to the austerity measures, which are disliked by civil servants and businesses, but have broad popular support. The introduction of such a ban also offered a timely demonstration of Xi Jinping’s proclaimed commitment to fighting corruption and protecting the environment. However, the fact that domestic NPOs and international NGOs were able to roll-out shark-protection activities across multiple media and socio-political spaces suggests that celebrity and corporate activism could be a positive force for social change in China, given the limited spaces available for broader political participation in that country. In fact, the sale of shark fin has reportedly plummeted in China. A survey conducted by the PRC’s Ministry of Commerce in 2013 indicated that sales of shark fin were down by 70 per cent (‘Extravagant dining curbed by frugality call’ 2013). Reports by the World Wildlife Fund revealed that the shark-fin trade from Hong Kong to China had dropped almost 90 per cent in that same year (Kao 2014). This reduction is driven largely by non-consumption on the part of government officials, with Chinese media reports indicating diminished luxury consumption and business practices across the country. But the success of shark-protection campaigns in China illustrates how an environmental communication campaign aiming to transform individual consumer choices could become a political ‘big issue’ once it was linked by authoritarian government to government spending. Although the reduced demand for shark fin in China cannot be attributed directly to WildAid’s celebrity-endorsed campaign, that campaign may help persuade business elites not to resurrect the demand for shark fin by providing it at corporate-funded dinners to court ‘favours’ from government officials. It may also help to discourage future demand for shark-fin products in China by persuading young adults that eating shark-fin soup is bad for human health and the environment. While the latter suggestions are difficult to verify empirically, the example of 240

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shark-protection campaigns in China illustrates that Big Citizen philanthropy may have different effects in non-Western contexts.

Conclusions and avenues for future research While usefully countering overly laudatory accounts of celebrity philanthropy, the Big Citizen critique is an infl ationary form of critique that lacks analytical specificity, as indicated with reference to the different circumstances surrounding the operation of celebrity philanthropy in China. Critics of so-called Big Citizens (financial and cultural elites) tend to condemn celebrity philanthropy as an expression of the perceived ills of neoliberalism (exploitation, hyper-consumerism and media-promoted acceptance of inequality and the political status quo). In the process, they substitute polemic for empirically informed analyses of different types of celebrity philanthropists and different forms of celebrity philanthropy, and how celebrity philanthropy is practised and received in different historical, cultural and political contexts. The evident problem with the Big Citizen critique, as demonstrated by the China case studies, is that the operation of celebrity philanthropy in practice is far from straightforward. It can inspire ‘ordinary’ citizens to be philanthropic or to insist that the wealthy and famous have extra social obligations. It can also politicize individual consumer choices in the context of a country marked by concerns over government corruption (and environmental degradation). What remains to be understood are the openings celebrity philanthropy can provide, the ways it may be constituted differently in different contexts and places, the unintended effects it may generate, and the reactions of both fans and those being helped. With such a more detailed and nuanced understanding, it may well be possible to gain greater benefit and helpful change from its use.

Acknowledgements This research was supported under the Australian Research Council’s Future Fellowship funding scheme (FT100100238).

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Part IV

The Conduits of Celebrity

16 Celebrity in the age of global communication networks Olivier Driessens

Background This chapter will discuss celebrity in relation to global communication networks. The literature on this topic can be roughly divided into two categories. The first category concerns all questions on global versus local celebrity. Early writings here dealt primarily with ‘global’ stars and Anglophone celebrity cultures (or North-American, British or Australian celebrities), for example by looking at what values stars embodied and exported to international audiences (Dyer 1986/2004; Marshall 1997). This particular focus can be largely explained by, on the one hand, the economic and cultural dominance of American and British culture and media industries – Hollywood, but also institutions such as the gossip magazine People or the Daily Mail. On the other hand, mostly Anglophone scholars have pioneered the study of stars and celebrity, published in outlets that are also exclusively Anglophone.Yet slowly attention has broadened to include the study of local celebrity (Ferris 2010) and non-Anglophone celebrity cultures (e.g. Gorin and Dubied 2011; Galbraith and Karlin 2012), although this is still a relatively small but growing body of literature. The second category of literature focuses more on the changes in the nature of celebrity parallel to developments in media technologies. Digital media, particularly social media (such as YouTube, Instagram,Twitter and Weibo), receive considerable attention here. Not only are spatial or national boundaries becoming more superfluous compared with traditional (national) mass media, these media platforms also present new possibilities for the creation of celebrity. In this sense, the topic of celebrity in the age of global communication networks is also closely related to the debate on the democratisation of celebrity, or at least the demotic turn (Turner 2010b). Some critical readers might argue that the above categorisation omits an important body of literature related to the global, namely that on transnational celebrity activism (e.g. Huliaras and Tzifakis 2010). Although this research topic indeed poses questions on the global entering the local, the reason why it will be largely neglected in this chapter is that it is mostly invested in public diplomacy, international politics and activism, and sits only at the periphery of the debate on global communication networks, which is the focus of this chapter and the paragraphs below. Apart from sketching an overview of the key arguments and contributions made in this field, this chapter aims to add two key points to the debate. The first is that scholars should problematise 245

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much more the often taken for granted notion of global celebrity and the second that our understanding of celebrity could be improved if we replace strict top-down approaches by analyses that bring audiences closer to the centre of attention.

Key arguments in the literature To start with, we need a precise understanding of what is meant with ‘the global’ in discussions on celebrity.What is striking here is that the authors’ definition of the global is usually not given but left implicit, although we can find a few exceptions that have tried to clarify it (Redmond 2016) or that have critically interrogated the concept of global celebrity culture (Driessens 2014). Overall, the global seems to be interpreted in a dual way in the literature: one understands global celebrity as a universal phenomenon, as a cultural form that we can find around the world; the other looks at global celebrity as individuals who are deemed to be famous in all four hemispheres of the world. The first position, which treats celebrity as a universal phenomenon, is clearly dominant and takes this assumption mostly for granted. A typical example of this position can be found in the following quote by Redmond (2016: 214): From the back streets of Kabul to the markets of Morocco, from the crap tables of Macau to the council estates of Coventry, and from the hipstervilles of Melbourne to the shrines and temples of Tokyo, celebrity is played out as entertainment, value, product and commodity, and as the way identity, community, nation and region are forged, cohered, reimagined as stable and secure, and sometimes powerfully resisted. Celebrity, then, sits at the heart of the myth of the global media center, informing all the watery mediascapes and ideoscapes (Appadurai 1990) of these liquid modern times. In this view, people in every corner of the world consume celebrity – here defined broadly as individuals with an elevated degree of public recognisability resulting from mediated visibility in areas such as media, entertainment and sports, as well as other fields of society such as politics, science, business, law or religion. At the same time, the quote also implies that in all of these places celebrity as a status position, or as a commodity, is produced in potentially culturally specific ways since they are related to specific communities, nations or regions which feed into particular identities. In this sense, the quote exhibits a double meaning: on the one hand, celebrity is a local and specific cultural product, but, on the other hand, its occurrence across the globe also makes it a global phenomenon. This assumption then contributes to what Redmond calls the myth of the global media centre or the belief that there is a global media culture in which we are all included as consumers and participants (but see below for criticism). This closely relates to the second meaning of global celebrity, which starts from the premise that there is a global celebrity culture which encompasses individuals who are recognisable around the world. Rojek (2001: 135), for example, pointed out how David Bowie became a ‘global’ celebrity with the release of his album and the creation of his persona Ziggy Stardust. One of the reasons for its popularity, according to Rojek, is that through this androgynous and extravagant figure Bowie offered audiences escapism “from the humdrum of their sexual, work and family commitments” (p. 135). Although ‘global’ is probably (and hopefully) used in a rather metaphorical way to address Bowie’s international acclaim, all too often scholars stick the label ‘global’ far too easily and uncritically to supra-national phenomena. In fact, it is difficult to imagine more than perhaps a handful of individuals that do indeed penetrate both into the back streets of Kabul and the markets in Morocco, the crap tables of Macau or the temples of Tokyo, 246

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let alone into more secluded peasant villages in the Global South. Perhaps there are exceptions such as the American president or some religious leaders who attain near universal recognisability, although even this assumption probably suffers from Western-centred, media-centred or cultural imperialist biases. Without using the term, cultural imperialism is also one of two ways that Redmond (2016: 214) believes global celebrity has influence and meaning. Celebrity, he argues, is “central to the global proliferation and incorporation of neoliberal values, processes and practices. Global celebrity involves the transmission of a homogenised and low quality, individualist and commodity-driven Western culture that threatens, therefore, to flatten out all cultural distinctions and the very existence of what are argued to be rich and culturally diverse world cultures” (p. 214). This cultural homogenisation is enabled by global communication networks that cut through all boundaries and are thought to bend local forms into the global celebrity format. This assessment echoes some of the cultural pessimism and standardisation of culture thesis characteristic of the Frankfurt School, but it also resonates with earlier analyses on the values that celebrities embody. For Dyer (1986/2004), for example, the film star can be seen as the articulation of individualism, which coheres with consumerism and capitalism. Still, he stresses that the star is inherently paradoxical as its articulation sways between individual and society, private and public, ordinariness and extraordinariness, and naturalness and artificialness. Marshall (1997: x) elaborated on these ideas and argued that the celebrity as commodity “serves as a powerful type of legitimation of the political economic model of exchange and value – the basis of capitalism – and extends that model to include the individual”. One problem with these analyses is that the audience’s readings are assumed and not empirically studied. More specifically, the aforementioned authors tend to expect a dominant reading of the celebrity as a text, and they largely overlook potential negotiated or oppressive readings amidst media consumers’ potentially more diverse media and cultural consumption. The other way that global celebrity can be made sense of, according to Redmond, focuses more on the global-local nexus. Instead of cultural standardisation and homogenisation, bricolage is the starting point here. Global (Western) celebrity does not operate as an exclusive and uncritically adopted model in this case, but celebrity is interpreted, translated and developed in culturally specific ways. The local, regional, national and supra-national levels are relatively distinct but at the same time also strongly interconnected. This brings us to Wong and Trumper’s (2002: 182) assertion that what matters is not celebrities’ particular territory, but only their mediation. It is difficult to agree that mediation renders territorial characteristics invisible though. Another way of looking at it could be that the degree to which national or local idiosyncrasies are played out will be different for more locally versus more internationally oriented celebrities. It is still an empirical question how celebrities play with these conventions and how much importance audiences attach to them in particular cases. Yet it is important to look at other potential consequences of celebrities’ mediation and the changes brought about by developments in global communication networks. A full historical overview would lead us too far, but interesting lessons can be learned by zooming in on how celebrity has been changing with the introduction of the internet and particularly of social media. Authors discussing these developments have focused predominantly on the changes in the (re)presentation of celebrity and on the relatively increased possibilities for ‘ordinary’ people to reach out for celebrity status. Of central importance here is Marshall’s (2010) thesis that a fundamental shift has been from what he calls representational to presentational culture. Representational culture’s fundaments are radio, television, film and print, which together hold central power “to represent and embody interests and desires, celebrity as a moniker of identity, individuality and the consumer self ” 247

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(p. 38). With these last aspects, Marshall refers to the pedagogical role of celebrities: he argues that they teach (some of) us not only to consume, but also how to produce a public self and how to possibly behave as individuals.The rise of online media and culture proved a turning point and diminished the symbolic power of the aforementioned media, a rupture equally transformative as the one in the 1950s when the film studio system broke down and instead the star took centre stage, according to Marshall.What makes this so transformative in his view is that now celebrities have much more control over the production of their public self by building and moulding it themselves (or through their agents) on social media. This then resulted in the shift to presentational culture in which ‘ordinary’ people also strongly participate. Others would add to this shift from representational to presentational culture a significant change at the entry gates of celebrity culture: the (relative) democratisation of celebrity, or in Turner’s (2010b) words the demotic turn. It means that ordinary people have found increasingly more ways to become famous and that the ordinary has become more prominent in celebrity culture. This demotic turn was inaugurated by reality television and then further developed with the sky-rocketing use and popularity of social media. Instead of fully relying on traditional media and cultural industries, people now have the ability to create a (virtual) international mass audience themselves by producing and distributing any kind of content on (a combination of) online platforms. Many of them deploy their skills in one specific platform though and then use other platforms to widen their audiences. Examples of these new celebrities are so-called YouTubers and Instafamous, or individuals who have built their fame by building an online persona on the video channel YouTube and the photo-sharing platform Instagram respectively. These new kinds of online celebrities are now often referred to as micro-celebrities. Marwick (2013: 114) defines micro-celebrity as “a state of being famous to a niche group of people, but it is also a behaviour: the presentation of oneself as a celebrity regardless of who is paying attention”. This presentation of the self often takes the form of self-branding or self-promotion. Starting from Rojek (2001), Marwick argues that there are two types of micro-celebrity: achieved and attributed. The former occurs when an individual actively pursues fame, the latter when it is ascribed onto someone by others based on this person’s achievements. Interestingly, stress is firmly put on celebrity as a performance here rather than as an individual with a huge following or audience, as was implied in the above discussion on global celebrity. Still, this does not mean that these ‘micro-celebrities’ could not have a considerable audience though: the Swedish gamer PewDiePie, who became famous by recording YouTube videos in which he plays and comments on games, has an audience that reaches into millions of followers and viewers. He also published a book and appeared in talk shows and news magazines across the (Western) world, which perhaps made him lose the micro prefix.Yet what this illustrates is that the definition through ‘niche’ audiences and the label ‘micro-celebrity’ might be rather misleading for some cases who make it big. In the next section, we will look at how the arguments we have just discussed have been taken further and, importantly, have been combined to some extent in empirical research on celebrity and micro-celebrity.

Principal contributions Several of the few publications that have empirically analysed global celebrity happen to concentrate on sports stars, particularly football stars. One excellent study that combines issues we have just discussed on global celebrity and the role of changes in media infrastructures is Turner’s (2014) historical analysis of how football became a global sport, focusing on the English Premier 248

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League. At the root of the changes in English football he situates its Europeanisation, postFordism and the putting to an end of the maximum minimum wage. Combined with increasing sponsorship deals and television contracts, football became a hugely successful entertainment and commodity form on the global stage. As a result, he says, “players often became valued for their consumer value and ‘price tag’, rather than their talent on the pitch or ‘intrinsic worth’” (Turner 2014: 754). The overall and sharp inflation of record transfer fees in European and particularly English football in recent times is certainly testament to that argument. By escaping the confines of the pitch into the entertainment industry, football stars turned into international celebrities. Their increased awareness of their celebrity status made them put more effort into developing their individual personas, also using online platforms such as Twitter and Instagram. However, Turner (2014) did not seem to appreciate this trend as he described, mediatised and celebritised football as a hyperreality where celebrity is increasingly becoming self-referential and devoid of meaning. When sports internationalise, it is interesting to see what roles the national characteristics of its celebrities still play. Wong and Trumper (2002) define this relationship between the local or national and the supranational as “ambiguous, paradoxical, and contradictory” (p. 169). Sports stars have supranational fame but at the same time they “serve as national cultural icons for the formation and reaffirmation of national identities” (p. 169). Perhaps we can come to a better understanding of why they think the national and transnational are contradictory rather than complementary by looking at their study in more detail. They came to this conclusion after conducting two case studies: one on the Chilean Inter Milan football player Ivàn ‘Bam Bam’ Zamorano, the other on the Canadian ice hockey player Wayne Gretzky, who was member of several North American teams, where he also had his permanent residency. For the authors, “on the surface at least, Zamorano and Gretzky are prime representatives of a new kind of citizenry, of people who work and live borderless and bordered lives” (Wong and Trumper 2002: 169). A crucial role is played by both national and international media, which bring these ‘borderless’ players into Chilean and Canadian homes, which play a crucial role in creating their public personas and which are co-constitutive of the transnational sporting events in which they figure. So what is celebrated in these events is not only the successful individuals, but also the nations that created them. Importantly, Zamorano and Gretzky do not simply appeal to a traditional core of Chilean or Canadian national values, but, by being internationally acclaimed symbols of their respective nations, they also personify new ideals of (trans)national citizens. Zamorano, for example, “has been transformed into the personification of the new Chilean: individualistic, capable of succeeding outside Chile, competitive, flexible, an embodiment of neoliberalism and its ethics” (Wong and Trumper 2002: 181). Apart from studying how celebrities possibly make it into international stars and how these relate to their national or local levels, it is also important to compare the representation and reception of international and more local celebrities. Here a study by Van den Bulck and Claessens (2014) proves very insightful. Drawing on a framing analysis, they studied both celebrity news content in People (USA), Heat (UK) and HLN (Belgium) and audience comments on online articles in the aforementioned outlets. Here we focus on the most relevant findings for the purpose of this chapter. One is the question how ‘global’ or diverse celebrity news really is. In terms of ethnicity, the results show there is hardly any diversity: in nearly 9 out of 10 cases, media or audiences write about white celebrities, with hardly any Asian celebrities covered at all. Concerning the tone of reporting, HLN articles proved significantly more positive toward local celebrities, which corresponded with more positive reader comments as well. HLN readers’ comments were also different for local celebrities, discussing their personal lives and emotions 249

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more, whereas international celebrities were frequently the subject of discussions on their professional lives, their public behaviour and appearances. One explanation that the authors gave for these differences was the cultural proximity hypothesis, or the idea that cultural products closest to one’s own lifeworlds tend to be preferred. Finally, in relation to the cultural imperialism thesis mentioned above, Van den Bulck and Claessens (2014: 232) concluded that most articles and reactions cover American celebrities, followed by British and Flemish stars. This indicates that globalisation of celebrity culture is a complex issue, confirming Americanisation as well as the relevance of other dominant celebrity centres (notably UK celebrities receiving worldwide attention) and of local celebrity cultures. In other words, their conclusion seems to support both the cultural imperialism and the glocalisation positions: on the one hand, there is indeed a dominance of American (or more generally Anglophone) celebrities in the three outlets that they studied, but, on the other hand, it shows that next to that there is still considerable attention for local celebrity cultures and noninternational stars. Of course, given the nature of the three publications that the authors have analysed, the results should not be surprising. More nuance could have been added to the study perhaps by discriminating between more local and more international stars: now all American stars, also in People, seem to be treated as ‘global’ celebrities, which is not necessarily the case obviously. Moreover, treating them like this could be seen as an adoption of the cultural imperialism thesis. Next, we also have to look at the media’s structures and the production of celebrity news. Of particular value to better understanding how some aspects of this have been changed in interrelation with developments in media technology and organisations is McNamara’s (2016) work on paparazzi. Paparazzi news and photos are a prime example of rapidly distributed celebrity news and gossip across borders. The introduction of social media did not simply put paparazzi agencies offside or shift power to celebrities, who are assumed to control their image online more independently now. While the latter might be the case to a certain extent, there are some more fundamental changes in the media and celebrity industries. One is that paparazzi agencies changed course as a response to popular celebrity gossip blogs such as Perez Hilton or new entertainment channels such as E! Entertainment. Similar to other ‘old’ media businesses, rather than abandoning the field to digital media, they developed strategies to adopt them and to re-invent their business. Not only have they found several ways to interact directly with audiences themselves via Facebook, Twitter and Instagram, they also set up their own platforms that transformed them from news agencies into news websites. Several agencies that used to provide news media with mainly paparazzi shots started offering complete stories and content for users to interact with. More generally, McNamara (2016) points out how recent changes in media and communications have also created a new army of agents in celebrity culture such as bloggers and vloggers who comment on celebrity gossip and by doing so even become news resources themselves. Does this imply that the importance of media and cultural industries is sometimes underestimated? One such example could be Smith (2016), who focused on YouTube celebrity. He focuses on the possibilities for Do-It-Yourself or DIY celebrity that YouTube creates: anyone can upload videos, start a channel, perform as a (micro-) celebrity and address their followers and audience members as fans. So these celebrities seem to act as both performer and cultural intermediary (PR agent, script writer, etc.): “YouTube celebrity appears (if not actually is) devoid of these [distinct cultural intermediaries]” (Smith 2016: 340). Some caution is necessary indeed, because in several cases the cultural intermediaries are not absent but harder to detect – or just invisible. In fact, a whole industry of so-called multi-channel networks that constantly search for new YouTube talents and contract many of them early on is blossoming at the 250

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moment. They help YouTubers such as Kostas Garcia, an American student and micro-celebrity, with the business side of things, but also offer workshops and training to help their clients increase follower numbers and improve their parasocial relationships with subscribers (Mcnutt 2016). Also YouTube themselves offer promising vloggers the possibility of learning the trade at their schools, for example in France for beauty vloggers or in London for any kind of vlogger. Together, these elements put more flesh on the scepticism about the DIY nature of social media or micro-celebrity and support those that urge us to be critical of the democratic claims made about internet celebrity, with commodification and commercialisation lurking around every corner (Turner 2010b).

Main criticisms Since celebrity studies is still a relatively young research field, it is natural that several gaps appear between the areas that have been covered thus far. However, the current conceptualisations and empirical analyses also raise some important questions. A first one is how to assess the global. As discussed above, Redmond (2016) found two main approaches to the global: cultural imperialism and glocalisation. Somewhat overlooked though are questions about celebrity at the level of diaspora and transcultural flows. Central here are issues not about domination or adoption and translation of Western content in particular locales, but about the multi-local presence of ‘local’ celebrities and their consumption across space. An excellent example of this is Liebelt’s (2011) study of Philippine migrants in Israel who congregate around Filipino ‘VIPs’, or religious workers with celebrity status, and integrate them into their religious practices. They also engage with them in ways different from how they would in their country of origin, since the migrants feel that the VIPs are more approachable and closer to them. Related to this is the question where non-Western and to a lesser extent even nonAnglophone celebrities are in research. We need many more insights from different regions and cultures to understand the different shapes that celebrity cultures potentially take to then look at which underlying mechanisms can explain these differences (or perhaps the lack thereof). We also need better knowledge of the meanings and discourses that circulate around celebrity in different cultures and societies. Does celebrity have equal value in all these societies? If not, how can this be explained? Asking these questions is necessary to be able to scrutinise the often rather easily made universalistic claims about celebrities with global fame and also about celebrity as a cultural form that is being consumed everywhere in the world. But this assumption might overlook the differences between individualistic and more collectivist cultures, for example, or the simple fact that in any kind of culture and society many people are just not interested in the phenomenon and ignore most of it, intentionally or unintentionally. This brings us to the second point that perhaps a considerable amount of extant work on celebrity is rather top-down and does not sufficiently account for the roles that audiences play in the construction of celebrities and celebrity cultures.Typical examples of this are the assumptions of celebrities reaching ‘global’ fame just because cultural products bearing their name have been released in a number of countries, or the above definition of a micro-celebrity as a person who is considered to be famous solely based on his or her performance as a celebrity, regardless of the size of the audience. In the case of the above-mentioned micro-celebrity Kostas Garcia, for example, several of his YouTube videos reach only around 1000 views. This raises the question what the significance of this really is and whether even the label micro-celebrity might overstate what is (not) going on. Perhaps ‘wannabe-celebrity’ is more appropriate for those cases that act as 251

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celebrities but hardly reach an audience. Micro-celebrity can then be used for those more niche celebrities who perform as celebrities and who are acknowledged for this by their audiences. At a more abstract level, the point being made here is that mediated visibility cannot be the only criterion for celebrity if there is hardly any or no attention at all. Mere performance as a celebrity cannot be sufficient to count as being a (micro-)celebrity in my view. So when we assess (global) celebrity, we should always take into account both the circulation of mediated representations of a person and the attention he or she receives (Driessens 2015). An example of putting this into practice is the above-mentioned study by Van den Bulck and Claessens (2014), who studied both news content and audience reactions to it.

Future developments In this chapter, the focus has been first on global celebrity as a problematic category and second on changes in celebrity in relation to developments in media and communications networks, especially social media. We have discussed the different understandings and approaches to global celebrity, a category that is all too often taken for granted and applied rather loosely and uncritically. The same goes to some extent for the notion of micro-celebrity, which is perhaps too open by including even those without an audience, although it usefully points us at celebrity as performance. Because of these problems, it has been suggested that audiences need to be acknowledged more in thinking about the concept of celebrity but also in the empirical analysis of (global) celebrity. The latter has already been raised as a necessity a few years ago by Turner (2010a), but still with relatively little effect. Here lies also the possibility of marrying celebrity studies and fan studies. So far, these are fields that have been too strongly separated, although they could clearly benefit each other. Consumption of celebrity is not always as intense or dedicated as fandom, but also banal and less sustained. All these degrees of engagement with celebrity need our attention, also those forms of disengagement and avoidance of celebrity, or even feelings of anti-celebrity. This will render our image of the geographies of celebrity more complete and show not only how celebrity is organised by patterns of cultural imperialism, but also how social boundaries create distinctions and differences in the circulation and consumption of celebrity. Together, findings from such studies can then help us assess to what extent ‘global celebrity’ is indeed fact or fiction. Taking this as a starting point, a number of options for future research emerge. Following research in international communications, a first option could be to take a more precise look at the different cultural flows of celebrity  – not only the circulation of their representations, but also the political economy of the media and celebrity industries underneath, the mobility of people as labourers and the reception of celebrity by (inter)national audiences. It would be interesting if research focused not only on the transnational reception of Anglophone celebrities, but also on the flows within and between supra-national or regional celebrity cultures. How does celebrity flow within Asian media cultures, for example? What relations of (inter)dependency can we find in celebrity in the Spanish-speaking world? Or what is the status of celebrity in post-Socialist countries or in societies with strong censorship? Second, to understand the relationship between international and local celebrity, more research is needed on the latter category. Local here is not understood simply in geographical terms though, but also in terms of scale as niche celebrity or even subcultural celebrity. As argued in Driessens (2014: 115), it is more productive to think of celebrity cultures as “collections of sensemaking practices whose main resources of meaning are celebrity”. This prevents us from using a territorial approach to celebrity cultures, which situates them in strict politico-geographical 252

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boundaries such as nations, which is rather problematic since their borders and boundaries prove to be porous and liquid. Using the translocal approach just outlined, research can then look into local celebrity cultures of small nations, regions or groups defined by a particular language or history (such as the Kurds or Catalans), celebrity cultures around particular sports or interests (such as skateboarding, street art, darts), or cultural genres, for example. Third, the next step is then to conduct comparative research on these different celebrity cultures to understand their relationships, similarities and differences. In that way we can better understand the potential influence of high-profile Western celebrities or Western celebrity cultures more generally on what counts as celebrity performance in other celebrity cultures. It can also be relevant to investigate in what ways non-Western and local celebrity cultures have influence on other celebrity cultures. Are popular actors of those countries co-opted to secure a more favourable market position in different economies, for example? Finally, given that users on social media reach potentially global audiences, questions arise on how this assumption or ambition impacts the definition of self and the performances of wannabe or micro-celebrities. Is there a set of rules and practices that govern self-presentation or the (para) social interaction with audience members? How much of the private self is generally expected to be revealed, if at all? Should selfies be taken in a particular way, is English the lingua franca or how frequently should one be visible? Or related to this issue, if a YouTuber suddenly reaches an international breakthrough after having mainly concentrated on local audiences, how does this affect their persona, videos and relationships with audiences? In sum, while global celebrity as such has never been at the centre of celebrity studies, the rise of global media and communication networks and the emergence of celebrities who can potentially reach international audiences directly through online platforms demonstrate the necessity to take questions on the global more seriously.This means critically scrutinising assumptions that have mostly been taken for granted and bringing audiences more to the centre of analysis than has so far been mostly the case. This can encourage scholars in non-Western countries to participate in the debate and contribute to a more nuanced understanding of celebrity as a diverse cultural and societal phenomenon.

References Driessens, O. 2014. Theorizing celebrity cultures: Thickenings of media cultures and the role of cultural (working) memory. Communications: The European Journal of Communication Research, 39(2): 109–127. Driessens, O. 2015. On the epistemology and operationalisation of celebrity. Celebrity Studies, 6(3): 370–373. Dyer, R. 1986/2004. Heavenly Bodies: Film stars and society. 2nd edn. New York: Routledge. Ferris, K.O. 2010. The next big thing: Local celebrity. Society, 47(5): 392–395. Galbraith, P.W., and Karlin, J.G. (eds) 2012. Idols and Celebrity in Japanese Media Culture. Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan. Gorin, V., and Dubied, A. 2011. Desirable people: Identifying social values through celebrity news. Media, Culture & Society, 33(4): 599–618. Huliaras, A., and Tzifakis, N. 2010. Celebrity activism in international relations: In search of a framework for analysis. Global Society, 24(2): 255–274. Liebelt, C. 2011. On global happenings in the name of Jesus, rubbing shoulders with ‘VIPs’ and domestic work in the ‘Holy Land’:  Notes on celebrity and blessing in the Filipino diaspora. South East Asia Research, 19(2): 225–248. Marshall, P.D. 1997. Celebrity and Power. Fame in contemporary culture. Minneapolis: Univ. of Minnesota Press. Marshall, P.D. 2010. The promotion and presentation of the self:  Celebrity as marker of presentational media. Celebrity Studies, 1(1): 35–48. Marwick, A.E. 2013. Status Update:  Celebrity, publicity, and branding in the social media age. New Haven, CT: Yale Univ. Press. McNamara, K. 2016. Paparazzi: Media practices and celebrity culture. Cambridge: Polity. 253

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Mcnutt, M. 2016. Build-a-Bae workshop? The tensions of codifying YouTube celebrity. 3rd International Celebrity Studies Journal Conference: Authenticating Celebrity. Amsterdam. Redmond, S. 2016. Introduction to part four: Global celebrity. In P.D. Marshall and S. Redmond (eds), A Companion to Celebrity (pp. 213–218). Oxford: Wiley Blackwell. Rojek, C. 2001. Celebrity. London: Reaktion Books. Smith, D.R. 2016.‘Imagining others more complexly’: Celebrity and the ideology of fame amongYouTube’s ‘Nerdfighteria’. Celebrity Studies, 7(3): 339–353. Turner, G. 2010a. Approaching celebrity studies. Celebrity Studies, 1(1): 11–20. Turner, G. 2010b. Ordinary People and the Media: The demotic turn. London: Sage. Turner, M. 2014. From local heroism to global celebrity stardom: A critical reflection of the social cultural and political changes in British football culture from the 1950s to the formation of the premier league. Soccer & Society, 15(5): 751–760. Van den Bulck, H., and Claessens, N. 2014. Of local and global fame:  A comparative analysis of news items and audience reactions on celebrity news websites People, Heat, and HLN. Journalism, 15(2): 218–236. Wong, L.L., and Trumper, R. 2002. Global celebrity athletes and nationalism:  Fútbol, hockey, and the representation of nation. Journal of Sport & Social Issues, 26(2): 168–194.

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17 Celebrity involvement Parasocial interaction, identification and worship William J. Brown

The study of involvement with celebrities has grown substantially during the past several decades, coinciding with the expanded opportunities that fans have to stay engaged with the celebrities whose lives they have chosen to follow. During the golden age of mass media in the last quarter of the twentieth century and before the permeation of the Internet, becoming emotionally and psychologically attached to celebrities occurred through mass communication processes that afforded minimal interactivity. Fans could listen to, read about and watch their favorite celebrities and the most engaged fans could write letters to celebrities, but seldom did fans receive any communication directly from celebrities. The expansion of the Internet and mobile phones into virtually every aspect of the lives of media consumers has created a plethora of new ways for fans and celebrities to relate. Celebrities now use websites,Twitter, blogs and other social media to craft their images, build their fan communities, and directly communicate to their fans (Click et al. 2015).Young people who are more accustomed to new communication technology are especially experiencing strong attachment to celebrities. There are simply many more ways to engage celebrities today than there were a couple of decades ago; therefore, involvement with celebrities is an increasingly important dimension of understanding celebrity influence. In the present chapter I consider three powerful processes through which audiences become involved with and affected by celebrities:  parasocial interaction, identification and worship. Studies of these processes are found in celebrity-related research throughout the academic literature, particularly in communication, social psychology, psychology and sociology journals. In order to more comprehensively understand these three processes of involvement with respect to celebrities, I will first discuss conceptualizations of celebrity involvement and how parasocial interaction, identification and worship with celebrities are defined. Second, I will explore how these three processes of celebrity involvement are related to each other. Third, I  will review several powerful examples that show how audiences develop parasocial relationships with celebrities, how they identify with them, and how strong identification can lead to worship of celebrities. Finally, I will consider future theory and research of celebrity involvement and its effects on audiences.

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William J. Brown

Conceptualizing celebrity involvement Scholars have studied celebrity involvement through a variety of conceptual and theoretical perspectives. In the study of media and communication processes, involvement is a multidimensional concept with a rich history and is often interchanged with other nomenclature such as engagement, absorption and presence. Many definitions of involvement in the context of communication study, particularly those formulated before the Internet age, focus on cognitive responses to a message. More recently, scholars describe involvement as encompassing physiological (Ma et al. 2015), psychological (Wen and Cui 2014) and emotional (Claessens and Van den Bulck 2015) responses to mediated messages and personalities. Drawing from these conceptualizations, involvement can be broadly described as a set of complex audience responses to a mediated message or persona that have physiological, psychological and emotional dimensions. The psychological and emotional dimensions of involvement are now receiving greater attention by media scholars (Nabi and Wirth, 2008). This has direct implications for celebrity studies. A  high degree of audience involvement with celebrities takes place when media consumers develop robust cognitive and emotional engagement with them. Scholars who are exploring entertainment media theory, for example, are giving increased attention to high levels of audience involvement and their effects (Moyer-Gusé et al. 2011; Vorderer et al. 2004). Since emotion lies at the heart of the entertainment experience, becoming emotionally involved with celebrities through entertainment media has received increased attention in celebrity research. Celebrity involvement research also is expanding beyond the limited focus on individual behavior. The focus on how individuals become involved with celebrities, which emerged from the strong social science roots of involvement research, does not adequately account for the collective experiences audiences have with celebrities. Media consumers participate collectively in relating to celebrities, incorporating text messaging and social media networks as important dimensions of their celebrity involvement (Click et al. 2015). Thus celebrity involvement today must be understood within the context of the social networking that takes place around the lives of celebrities.

Celebrity involvement processes Three areas of celebrity involvement research that have contributed much to the academic literature are studies of parasocial interaction and parasocial relationships, identification and worship. Unfortunately, much of the research on celebrities has presented these processes in isolation, although they are closely related both conceptually and methodologically in how they have been studied. In order to better understand these three processes of celebrity involvement, I will first describe the characteristics of each process individually and then will consider them collectively.

Celebrity parasocial interaction The concept of engaging in parasocial interaction with celebrities during media consumption was first conceptualized by Robert Merton during the 1940s in his study of Kate Smith, a famous American singer. Smith was employed by the US Government to anchor a radio campaign to sell war bonds in 1943. Her 18-hour epic radio marathon yielded $39 million of war bond proceeds, an astounding feat at that time. Merton attributed the fundraising campaign’s success to the strong involvement that the radio audience developed with Smith because of her dynamic personality and patriotic celebrity appeal. It was one of the first studies to demonstrate the power of celebrity appeal when combined with the value of patriotism, creating a synergistic 256

Celebrity involvement

effect that Elvis Presley would later capitalize on during his rise to fame. Reflecting back on Merton’s study, Sood and Rogers (2000) recognized that what Merton had observed was a high degree of audience parasocial interaction with Smith. Merton’s radio study of Kate Smith was followed ten years later by Horton and Wohl’s (1956) study of television viewers who developed strong mediated relationships with television personalities. They observed that the perceived intimacy of television produced an imaginary interaction between television viewers and television personas, which they defined as parasocial interaction. They further explained how this imaginary interaction between a television viewer and a television personality could, over time, develop into a parasocial relationship (Horton and Wohl 1956). A parasocial relationship is a pseudo-relationship that results from a false sense of intimacy created during media consumption. Even more powerful than radio, visual communication technologies like television, film and the Internet provide a rich media landscape for parasocial relationships to develop. Audiences have developed strong parasocial relationships with many different kinds of famous television personalities, including soap opera stars, news anchors, film and television actors, talk show hosts and comedy program hosts, and athletes on television (Brown 2015; Giles 2002; Stever 2009). The study of parasocial interaction and parasocial relationships with celebrity athletes expanded the study of parasocial interaction and the resulting parasocial relationships that develop well beyond the medium of television (Brown and de Matviuk 2010). Celebrities can access lar