Claims to Fame: Celebrity in Contemporary America

Univ of California Press
Free sample

Moving from People magazine to publicists' offices to tours of stars' homes, Joshua Gamson investigates the larger-than-life terrain of American celebrity culture. In the first major academic work since the early 1940s to seriously analyze the meaning of fame in American life, Gamson begins with the often-heard criticisms that today's heroes have been replaced by pseudoheroes, that notoriety has become detached from merit. He draws on literary and sociological theory, as well as interviews with celebrity-industry workers, to untangle the paradoxical nature of an American popular culture that is both obsessively invested in glamour and fantasy yet also aware of celebrity's transparency and commercialism.

Gamson examines the contemporary "dream machine" that publicists, tabloid newspapers, journalists, and TV interviewers use to create semi-fictional icons. He finds that celebrity watchers, for whom spotting celebrities becomes a spectator sport akin to watching football or fireworks, glean their own rewards in a game that turns as often on playing with inauthenticity as on identifying with stars.

Gamson also looks at the "celebritization" of politics and the complex questions it poses regarding image and reality. He makes clear that to understand American public culture, we must understand that strange, ubiquitous phenomenon, celebrity.
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About the author

Joshua Gamson is Assistant Professor of Sociology at Yale University.

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Additional Information

Publisher
Univ of California Press
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Published on
Mar 2, 1994
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Pages
270
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ISBN
9780520914155
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Best For
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Language
English
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Genres
Social Science / Anthropology / Cultural & Social
Social Science / Popular Culture
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Content Protection
This content is DRM protected.
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Eligible for Family Library

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“An outstanding achievement... Graeme Turner writes with power and persuasion, and brilliantly explores what it is about celebrity today that should concern us all”
- Sean Redmond, Deakin University

“A key touchstone for celebrity studies. Turner thoughtfully illuminates the variety of production and consumption practices through which celebrity circulates today, whilst remaining sensitive to the complexity of power relations in play. An essential read for students and scholars in the field”
- Sue Holmes, University of East Anglia

“Cements Turner’s status as the most important figure in celebrity studies... Turner’s gaze fixes on developments in digital, social and global mediascapes, drawing media and celebrity studies into complex critical, political and cultural debates in his indomitable style"
- James Bennett, Royal Holloway, University of London

“An extraordinary synthesis of research and theory... Understanding Celebrity remains the go-to text of celebrity studies"
- Joshua Gamsom, University of San Francisco
Where does the production of celebrity end and its consumption begin?

Platforms such as Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and reality TV allow us a previously unimagined engagement with the manufactured 'persona' of celebrity. Understanding Celebrity has become the go-to text for understanding the connection between the production and consumption of this 'persona'. The long-awaited second edition assesses the changing nature of this pivotal relationship in celebrity studies.

The book:

Explains how social media is key in establishing an online presence for celebrities Critically analyses the changing nature of fan culture within the online environment Delves into a richer and more detailed account of the history of celebrity Examines in greater depth the increased role of reality TV Incorporates recent contributions from feminist scholars to the field

Enriched with new examples drawn from popular culture, this is a contemporary and incisive look at celebrity studies.

Understanding Celebrity is not only an essential text, but a stimulating read for students studying celebrity and popular culture across media studies, cultural studies and sociology.

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The original New York Times Magazine article about Steven D. Levitt by Stephen J. Dubner, which led to the creation of this book.

Seven “Freakonomics” columns written for the New York Times Magazine, published between August 2005 and April 2006.

Selected entries from the Freakonomics blog, posted between April 2005 and May 2006 at http://www.freakonomics.com/blog/.

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