Stars Within Our Reach: Celebrity Production and Signification in Modern American Society
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Many people in modern American society consider celebrity to be a random, shallow, and trivial social phenomenon. Celebrities can garner massive criticism from the public about the nature of their work, the rewards and perks that they receive, and for diverting media attention away from “deserving” politicians, social activists, scientists, and artists. As irrelevant as entertainment celebrities are perceived to be by the general public, these celebrities actually play enormous roles in shaping many of our social norms, morals, values, and overall conceptualizations of American culture. Even more interestingly, many people may not even realize that these transformations are taking place. Fashioned in the postwar intricacies of American society, the modern celebrity was a response to a rise in mass consumerism and leisure, coupled with new technological developments and a growing conviction in democratic and egalitarian ideology. Differing from its predecessors, this new form of celebrity was wholly dependant on consumers themselves to ensure the success and longevity of the celebrity image. The quasi-relationship between the celebrity and its audience is thus, a significant focal point in understanding the complex strategy that goes into creating a celebrity image, and the multifaceted public interpretations that go into making or breaking this image. Through in-depth focus group discussions and blog analyses, my research attempts to deconstruct the particular celebrity-audience relationship of Kim Kardashian- in what ways can she be interpreted? What makes her appear (un)appealing? Is she unrelatable in some ways but relatable in others? What is it about her that maintains a consumer’s interest? What does she tell us about society, and about ourselves?