Celebrity Politics

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CHAPTER I INTRODUCTION

It is the stars. The stars above us, govern our conditions.
-- William Shakespeare, King Lear

Background

The fascination on today‘s celebrity high status is seemingly not anymore measured and defined by the way the star grooves to dance, power belts to hit high notes, or how tears fall on his/her cheeks while acting. There seems to have new barometer on how a celebrity shines and reaches to the audiences – endorsements. Celebrities become inevitable figures that appear not just on dramas, soap operas, talk show, or variety show, but almost equally on advertisements of anything being endorsed – product, people, and practice or anything that needs promotion. They have become symbols that are used for attribution or meaning to the ones being endorsed. Infusion of celebrity element has been an obvious phenomenon in the television context of everyday audience experiences. Meanings are made through the eventual constructions of images laiden to the media personae they see everyday on TV. The ultimate influence of celebrity images that emanates from this meaning-making media experience brings forth to the behavioral aspects of their image construction of the celebrity. Why are celebrities powerful that, in effect, influencing the household culture and everyday experiences of individuals that comprise audience groups across various cultural distinctions in the present society? Oftentimes, distinctions and tastes of audience groups are

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also attributed to the way they perceive and receive celebrities and their images. What is it on celebrities that leads to audience attraction to them, that could also inform them on how they construct meanings on these television symbols they see and experience everyday? From the tradition of media and culture scholarship comes an atypical consequence of television and film viewing that could possibly shape and cultivate audiences‘ pseudorelationship with the stars on these media platforms. Gitlin dramatically illustrated this effect in the above epigraph implicating that people are driven in life by stories and have characters surrounding them that may be perceived as intimates. This para-social effect, as Horton and Wohl (in Allen, 1999) coined it in their analysis of media psychology of the audience, postulates a number of observations that explains how the audiences and celebrities on TV could form their social images and interpersonal relationships. Theoretically defined, a celebrity is ―a genre of representation and discursive effect: it is a commodity traded by the promotions, publicity, and media industries that produce these representations and their effects; and it is a cultural formation that has a social function that should be better understood‖ (Turner, 2004, p. 9). The contemporary celebrity usually emerges from sports or entertainment industries – they are highly visible through the media. Their private lives attract greater public interest that their professional lives (Turner, 2004). 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. While those who have studied this phenomenon might argue that this excessiveness constitutes an intrinsic element of celebrity‘s appeal. It is also one reason why celebrity is so often regarded as the epitome of constructedness of mass-mediated popular culture (Franklin, 1999; in Turner, 2004).

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If in past, people traditionally regard political success in terms of acquiring a position to having the combination of ‗guns, golds, and glory‘, these days, another kind of ‗g‘ is seen to be added – ―glitter‖. This refers to the prominence that a political figure receive from to the attribution of celebrities that are, or, could be attached to them, or in other case, they themselves are the celebrities. Combined with much campaigns on the media, celebrities add the glitter to the character...
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