Celebrities, representation, and politics
‘Girls make sense – Girls, celebrities and identities’ – by Linda Dutis and Pauline van Romondt Vis
I have been reading this journal on a study that was conducted on 21 dutch girls (ages 12-13) to ‘explore how young girls make meaning from female celebrities’ ‘Celebrities can function as navigation points in one’s personal route through life’ [page 2]
Through these interviews that were conducted on the girls this journal argues
‘…that girls talk about celebrities functions as an identity tool. The girls actively engage in a reflexive project of the self through appropriating the narratives of celebrities to their everyday lives. Talking about celebrities led to articulations about the makeability and authenticity of the celebrity, and subsequently to reflections on their own identities and life opportunities’ [page 2]
Taken from this paper it seems as if these girls look up to celebrities even if their not even fans but they are constantly surround by them on TV, radio, movies, music, internet that they actually have no escape from them and therefore are quite ‘forced’ to look at them as some sort of inspiration. Young girls are looking up to celebrities instead of their parents, teachers etc which is quite shocking to think about.
‘Turner stresses the importance of approaching celebrity not as a property of a specific individual, but as the product of media representation (p. 8). Comparably, Bonner (2005) states that the meaning on attaches to a celebrity is based on it representation. Most people do not know celebrities in person, but ‘know’ them through a collage of mediated texts like films, concert performances or video clips. These primary texts are supported by secondary texts, like celebrity documentaries and gossip magazines…” [page 4]
– Turner, G. (2004) Understanding celebrity. London: Sage.
– Bonner, F. (2005) ‘The celebrity in the text’, in J. Evans and D. Hesmondhalgh (eds) Understanding media: Inside celebrity, pp 57-96. Maidenhead: Open University Press
Turner and Bonner talk about how a celebrity is not a property of its own individuality but as a product of a media representation. They also state how people who look at celebrities dont know them in real life but know them through what they are representing and wanting to show us as their ‘image’.
It is also quoted in the journal that Justin Timberlake had once said that he feels that his life in the media is more interesting than his actual life. Celebrities have this persona that is built up around them making themselves and their lives seem a lot more interesting than what maybe really is and this appeals to the younger generation as something to idolise. “Celebrities continuously try to breach the gap between the simulated persona, and the ‘real’ person…” [page 4]
– Giles, D (2000) illusions of immortality: A psychology of fame and celebrity. Basingstoke: Macmillan
‘Being authentic means being yourself and logically (to them – the girls) this meaning doing what you want to do (as opposed to having someone else tell you what to do). ‘Being true to yourself’ is also a road to happiness, as Lola [group 3] explains; if you renin true to yourself and fail nonetheless, at least you are happy. ‘Being yourself’ and ‘doing what you want’ are not things you can make. They come naturally. Consequentially a style of image that is too (consciously) made is seen as an exaggeration.’ – [page 13]
This quote above was taken from the authors of the journal from what they got back from the girls after the interview. They have gathered that the girls believe that if celebrities are their selves they are on a road to happiness – basically saying if famous people don’t have such a drastic style or hair colour of personality because of what the media has made them they seem more natural and ‘true to themselves’. They could also be talking about their own lives and how they want to idolise celebrities that are not so extravagant.
Going on from this ‘…the girls (from the study) often made connection to their own everyday worlds. For instance, groups 1 saw themselves in Jennifer Lopez’ stubble with her parents…” [page 15]. These young girls that have conducted this study as well as other young girls in general always identify themselves with celebrities through their song lyrics, music videos, interviews etc. Which is a normal thing to do but this is also building an identity for them in the process. For example taken from Rihanna’s song ‘California King Bed’…
So, how come when I reach out my fingers
It seems like more than distance between us
…girls are identifying themselves with Rihanna situation as they could be in the same one with their boyfriend, she is feeling distance between her and her boyfriend and she is reaching out to him. When a girl listening to these lyrics they really relate to her current situation therefor feeling as if Rihanna knows exactly what is going on with her life. The girls is identifying herself with this specific celebrity because of a lyrics in the song.
From reading this journal I have understood that these young girls who are now developing their own identity at this crucial stage in their life do look up to celebrities for guidance in their life. I have also understood which I hadn’t of even thought about that these girls when they look at these celebrities they are also looking at things they wouldn’t want to be like. Teenage girls as well as looking and their role models as idols they are also looking at celebrities as people they wouldn’t want to be like, which is actually really interesting. (Images below)
As well as this extract that I have highlighted on the image to the right the following page reads…
‘Celebrities offer lifestyles the girls can aspire to or avoid, and which at some points, provide them with possibilities fro and empowerment of their own lives’ [page 18]
Overall from reading this journal I have realised that young girls do really look up to their celebrity idols as well as celebrities that they are not fans off for helping to identify themselves whilst growing up. They look up to them in both positive and negative ways which in fact is quite a healthy thing as you wouldn’t want your kids looking up to non positives actions that celebrities show in the public eye. I guess this isn’t the case which all young girls and guys but it does show an insight into how some of the younger generation do know how to pick out the good from the bad examples! I have also take that as well as trying to identify themselves through celebrities they look upon their friends for construction of identity as they want to perceived as ‘cool’ or accepted into the group so having their friends accept them is very important to them also.