Symposium Programme_Web

Overall on my 350MC module, I have researched the discourses surrounding the photographic form and how contemporary, historical & theoretical debates have become an issue within the title of idolisation of celebrities and idolising false self.

The current module required me to produce and present my research to a large group of people at a public symposium.  At first I found the project quite challenging, as selecting a topic to do with the theme I was investigating was quite challenging, as well as locating and gathering appropriate research surrounding the topic which I finally decided on.  However, once I was clear with what my project was going to be based on, it was a lot easier for me to gather my ideas and find appropriate research. I found myself doing a lot of research into the wider side of my topic. I began with wanting to look into disney stars and how they have changed their target audiences throughout their careers from being child stars and then into adult stars. When I started research and talked to my tutors my ideas changed as I found out that I didn’t really want to just look into this as it wasn’t interesting me as much as I expected. I then started looking into who was idolising these celebrities and how they were effecting them; younger girls and boys. I then decided to just look into young girls and not guys as this was too broad to research. I also began to look into shock tactics as I was researching quite a lot into Miley Cyrus. From talking to one of my tutors I was advised to look into this side of the music industry (shock tactics as a marketing strategy). I found a lot of research in this side of the work, but also found myself really looking at a lot of stuff that wasn’t relevant for my project. I think that this was one of the major things that I had to stop myself from doing because I kept drifting into topics that I found interesting myself, rather than what I really needed to look into.

When putting my presentation together, I automatically knew I wanted to pre record it as I knew I would be able to present my research a lot better and more professional than if I had spoken on the day. As I knew from the beginning that I was pre recording I began to plan what I wanted to include from all my research. I think if I were to re do my presentation I would have added additional information into it, now that I am looking back at it, as I think I missed out some key points that would have been good to use in the presentation. I would have added in research about digital manipulation as it is actually quite a big part of idolising false self of celebrities. I had carried out research into this topic but unfortunately I did not have any more time to put it in as we only had 10 minutes to present.

During the question and answers section of the symposium I was actually really nervous but I do think it went quite well and I answered my questions to the best of my knowledge and to my understanding. I had to really know my topic inside out in order to answer any question that was thrown at me as anyone could ask from the public. I was give a question on if I think that girls were just looking up to females as idols. This was an area that I had already carried out some research into which was a benefit when faced with answering the question. I had found out that young girls are also looking at males as the type of future boyfriends or ideas of marriages they would like in the future, so I feel as if I was prepared for that question in particular. I was also asked a few other questions but they were joint ones with the rest of my group which I found took some of the pressure off. Overall I think that my question and answer part of the symposium went really well as I felt well prepared for it.

This module has really helped me develop my research skills as I dont think I was that I had sufficient skills in this area. Having to independently seek up to date research in a topic area of interest to me, I now have a broader understanding of the ways in which to successfully research journal articles and other resources to use in my work. This is a skill that will benefit me greatly in future modules and in the wider working world when I finish university. A module that these skills will be of use in is my 352MC module which will require me to produce two pieces of coursework with supporting research, therefore having the ability to efficiently and successfully research information for these pieces of work will help me to get the best mark I can. As well as helping me into my next module at uni I think that this topic of marketing celebrities in such a way will help me when I leave university as I want to hopefully look for jobs in the media marketing area so by all this research that I have done about chock tactics, marketing and representation I believe that this will help me in the future especially since I have an interest in it I will want to carry on with this research in my own time.


Celebrity representations; idolizing false self


During this presentation I will be looking the effects of celebrity role models and idols on young girls, why they idolize and look up too certain celebrities and how this can affect them. I will start by looking at the media representation of celebrities and how corporations are using shock tactics a marketing strategy and how these two factors affect fans.


I have been reading the journal ‘Girls make sense – Girls, celebrities and identities’ – by Linda Dutis and Pauline van Romondt Vis. In the journal 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 do not know them in real life but know them through what they are representing and wanting to show us as their ‘image’ or what their marketing team want the world to see them as. Therefor who ever is looking up to them as role models for example children are in fact actually idolizing a false image of a person resulting in them copying false actions and effecting their personalities at a crucial stage of their lives where they are developing their identity.


It is 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 for 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 idolize as they dream of having such a fabulous life like their celebrity role models “Celebrities continuously try to breach the gap between the simulated persona, and the ‘real’ person…”


The function of having this persona is simply for the fact of gaining more publicity and buzz surrounding thembut the effect of doing so is directed at their fans who believe that their life is actually really like this and aspire to do the same as them. I find this particularly shocking within the music industry when fans are idolizing their favorite celebrity and coping such actions such as for example Miley Cyrus Twerking, there as girls as young as 7 who twerk thinking it is just a cool dance move their role model does but in reality they do not know the provocativeness of what they are really doing.


As I mentioned before Miley Cyrus she is a prime example of this, is she a properly of her own individuality or a product of her marketing and PR team? She has changed so drastically in the past year from her former Disney self into this sexualized girl, this is where property of individuality is really seen


In an online article about the movement from Hannah Montana to Miley Cyrus by Howard Bragman talks about how Miley is on the right path he explains how

 “Effectively she killed Hannah Montana [at the VMAS],” “Long live Miley Cyrus, I think that was the message.”

He further explains how he, “…understand(s) it from a psychological point of view and a marketing point of view. From a psychological point of view, everyone tells Miley that they loved her as Hannah Montana and I’m sure she wants to throw up,” he explains bluntly. “From a marketing point of view, these artists want to carry their audience with them — which is hard to do. It’s easy to be hot for a while but in music in particular, it’s hard to keep that going.”


I have looked at a series of child Disney stars who have developed from their innocent child images into ‘scandalous’ adult stars. All these images are former Disney products…they were all child stars who all have taken some sort of turn for the worst, or had a breakdown at some point. Which is also what I was referring to earlier about Miley how she is desperately trying to shake of her Disney image by re inventing herself.


A comment factor between two of these celebrities is their managers…Larry Rudolph.  Although his methods for revitalizing celebrity careers have often come into question, he is credited for propelling Britney Spears to fame.

He worked with the Hit Me baby One More Time singer at the start of her music career and was rehired by her father during her public meltdown. I’m sure everyone is now wondering if Miley following in the same footsteps?


This brings me onto using shock tactics as a marketing strategy.


“By stripping to her flesh-toned latex underwear and gyrating suggestively on a very married Robin Thicke, she confirmed what the world had long suspected – her Hannah Montana days are well and truly over.”


Miley continues to employ shock tactics and to aid her public reinvention, some observers will experience a sense of déjà vu as “Just twelve years ago, it was Britney Spears who was desperate to strip herself of her Disney roots and become a global icon. And just as Larry Rudolph helped Spears achieve her goal, he has been hired to manage Cyrus and resurrect the career of the 20-year-old child star-turned-twerking queen.”


We have all known for a while now that the shock factor is definitely one quick way to make the headlines, and like the old age saying goes ‘bad publicity is still good publicity’. But are corporations now pretty much relying on these shock tactics as their marketing strategy?


Walter Benjamin, the German Marxist who first developed an understanding of the shock effect culture. Talks about how the shock effect is used in daily life such as in the news etc. Benjamin explains how the shock effect should be ‘cushioned by heightened presence of mind’ but as well as being ‘tactile. This theory still applies to now a day as it is still very ‘tactile’ the way the music industry are using shock factors to engage their audiences. Benjamin says how the shock factor is essential to the audience as I understand why because it draws the audience in to wanting to see more or know more about what is going on and what everyone is talking about especially in the music industry, when something shocking happens everyone wants to be in the know and we can especially see this with the case of Miley Cyrus.

One widely talked about ‘media stunt’ was when Miley smoked a spliff on the stage at the VMAs. Was this really a spontaneous move as claimed or was it all a pre-meditated publicity stunt already arranged by her PR team to keep the hype that was surrounding her upcoming ‘Bangerz’ world tour? whatever it was, spontaneous or pre arranged it definitely showed the shocking nature of the music


So what and who do we actually classify as a role model and idol and what effect does this have on the younger generation?


Are theses the celebrities that the younger generation sees as their role models?


I have been reading the article Britney, Beyonce, and me – primary school girls’ role models and constructions of the ‘popular’ girl to find out more about why school girls idolize celebrities

This paper looks into

“…the ways in which the gendered social construction of the ‘popular girl’ infused girls’ ideas as to who (at a particular moment in time) they would like to be when they ‘grow up’ – as their ‘role models’. It looks into the ways in which the gendered characteristics that are seen to be of most value to often reflect socially dominant constructions of femininity.”


“…As we have show in the paper, marketing the singer in such a way appeals not only to masculine fantasies of the sexual precocious school girl but also discursively constructs the singer as the epitome of what many schoolgirls themselves desire – to be the leader of the gang, to acquire the status capital of holding the most coveted of positions – that of the popular girl’”


Here it states that the way celebrities are commercially constructed they are showing dominate traits of masculinity and femininity its “…Not surprising with commercial interests paramount, the presented image of many of the most popular ‘celebrities’ in the film, TV and music world reflect/reinforce dominate cultural discourses of masculinity (for men) and femininity (for women)…”


From this it goes onto say how ‘pop music videos overwhelmingly tend to deal in the familiar, that is in images that their audience are likely to find comfortable and unchallenging..’ . So if music videos are trying to convey an image for their audiences to feel comfortable resulting in idolization of the star in the video makes me not fully agree with this statement as I don’t believe that all music videos show a ‘comfortable’ or ‘unchallenging’ image to their audience. Infect a lot of music videos these days are over sexualized therefor portraying a ‘bad’ image for a younger generation to look up to and idolize as you can see in the past few clips, just watching these make you feel uncomfortable right? So image young girls copying these same actions just because it is their idol on screen they want to copy.


Overall in the paper it has quote  ‘been concerned with exploring the links between the people young girls choose as role models and the characteristics most likely to make girls ‘popular’ amongst their peers that the reasons discussed by the girls in our study as to why they have chosen stars such as Britney as their role models related to aspects of their appearance, to their ability to perform for an audience in terms of singing and dancing, and to personality traits such as ‘niceness’ and ‘kindness” – from reading this article it seems as if  young kids of ages 7/8 are already looking up to such influential women in the industry for ‘life’ role models but they have a more ‘innocent’ take on it although they are unaware that the majority of celebrities are being representing in such a way through their marketing strategy that this is a false image of them.


From my research I have identified that the majority of school girls are looking up to celebrities for inspiration and modeling their behavior based on what they see them doing but in a much more innocent way. Idolizing celebrities has become more frequent due to the availably and non-filtered content being shown that is accessible by children of an even younger age than before. They are too young to understand celebrities are marketing themselves as produces and as a ‘brand image’ not as their true self. it is also a concern that they have an innocent look on these role models and are not realizing that they are aspiring to be a false image of someone therefore resulting in idolizing a false self. 

References / Bibliography 

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