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Lecture 6 - Celebrity Culture








The Artist, 2011 Directed by Michel Hazanavicius
Refers to this era, tells the story of a silent movie idol





Contemporary film that portrays the era in a silent movie. Rise and fall of the actor and actress who played the main parts. He's established and she is new stumbling on fame whilst being an extra. It examines the inevitablilty of celebrities going in and out of fashion. 

The ending scene is the male actor is depressed at the end and he tries to kill himself by burning all the evidence of him in his hey day but she comes to rescue him in a hidden love story. 




American of mixed heritage. Found fame in france as a exotic dancer. Was nicknamed the 'black pearl'. 
This protrayel of teh exotic was really popular. AS well as an attractive women who made a living for her looks on stage, she also worked for the resistance in the second world war. 


she spied on the nazi's hepoing her jewish husband by using her celebrity culture to get into social events.  She also helped people get visas and passports in the world war. Shes interesting in the sense that she has two sides to her public and private persona. 


Beyonce wears an outfit that is based on Josephene's banana skirt. This image is taken from the fashion rock show in 2006. In other shows she appears from a champagne glass which is another reference to Josphene's shows. Racist stereotypes of bananas. 


May Mcavoy the female co star of Al Johnson in 'The Jazz Singer'. Invisible editing which makes us forget that we are watching a visual soundtrack and audio. 




1920's, 30's, 40's. Everyday examples of how to live life. The activity of going to the cinema becomes common. Glark Gabel, American Heroe, On-Screen and Off-Screen because he fought in the US Army. Mixing of both of these personalities which sets the celebrity up for a 'god like' status. 


Bette Davis - Because of her interesting approach to acting a roles. She was known for her willingness to play unlikeable characters. She seeked roles where she was an 'evil' character such as the films listed above. Her attitude to fame was much that she ended up marrying a man that has never heard of her, which was her initial attraction to him. 

She also instigated a strange canteen which was provided for US service men. Where service men would visit and be waited on by celebrities. An early type of reversal of roles between ordinary people and celebrities. Were familiar with this through reality TV now, but not at that time. 


The opposite is Maralyn Monroe. She is there to be enjoyed by her physical presence. She starts to cross into other areas with relationships with Arthur Miller and the Kennedies. Her private life gets shown on screen which created the whole conspiracy over her death - was it suicide? 




Andy Warhol referes to this in his silk screens. 

He makes her face into a mask. Which is endlessly repeated which is maing a comment about our innability to conceive them as anything else but a spectacle. The idea of underneath there is the Norma Jean Baker and above this is Matalyn. 




Audrey Flack airbrushed this hyper real representation of significant imagery. A floating paintbrush reminds us that this is a painted image ans the repreat of Maralyn. This reminds us of the difference between the person and image. 


Warhol also references Elvis in the same way. The hero here of the cowboy which is endlessly repeated just like the Marilyn one. The celebrities are products of consumerism. Hollywood churning out stars. 

Elvis becomes an all singing Super heroe which seems to anticipate his fall and death. 


Warhol also coined the phrase '15 minutes of fame'. 

He encourages sub cultural characters to hang out at his factory. A mixture of arty bohemian lifestyles. Artists, Transvestites, Performers and Musicians. The irony of him calling his place the factory - turning people of low status in society into celebrities by filming and photographing them. 

The opposite of the clean cut image of Elvis. 


We also get the movement of politicians in the celebrity fiield. JFK - young, good looking, fashionable wife. Both Kennedy and his wife become the subject of Warhol's works.


He ends up getting shot in public in 1963. He's recorded by a amateur in the public and this becomes the most valuable film footage in the worlds. 16 million dollars. 



JFK speeches communicated through TV which is how he comes into celebrity culture. By 50's and 60's, TV's are very common in the household. TV means there is a decline in people going to the cinema. Removing the experience of celebrities in the Public areas to now private areas. 


TV starts to influence peoples everyday lives. An early example of reality TV is the filming of the Jackson family. They are recorded and acting in a scripted way even though they are a real family. 


Michael emerges as the star as the youngest and cutest. And eventually the King of Pop. 

Come people have speculated that this plastic surgery is a way to mask his original heritage linked to his abuse suffered as a child. 


This ideas is played with by artists like madonna. She changes her image for each album. We see her here recycling the and referencing the age where wealth is celebrated rather than seen in bad taste. In the 1980's, we're in the time where people show their wealth quite openly. She directly references Marilyn which makes us see her as an icon by referencing icons. 



In Vogue she references the dance which was popular in gay culture in New York at the time. 
Post Modern recycling of the past.


If Madonna is a post-modern icon then Lady Gaga carries on the chain in Post-Post Modernism. She changes her image every time she is seen as Madonna would do every album. In Lady Gaga's case it's almost not possible to get in touch with her real self. There is lots of inventions of herself which is just a  spectacle. 

Here we have her wearing a lobster as a head piece which is a reference to maybe Salvador Dali? 


Direct References to Madonna's outfits. 


In an article for the BBC a writer suggests reasons for the choice of Meat Dress. Is she wearing the dress to represent celbrities as 'a peice of meat' or is it a statement about how apparently she said "people often don't want to eat meat, they wan't it neatly packaged in a supermarket"

Or maybe it dosent mean anything at all and it's just there for shock value. 


It also references the artists Jana Sterbak's meat dress of 1987. 


If we think about Youtube. There are millions of examples of people doing things on youtube to promote their fame.



Just to revisit politics in celbrity. We have this 'Pop President' who is young, cool, sings in public. Employing Shepherd Fairy for his election campaign in order to reach out to the masses. 





When Whitney Housten dies, The music Indistry are aware people will buy her music as a result of this, so prices and sales are raised. 

Beckham translates this Superhero status from a council estate boy. He has an untouchable status which invites us to wait for it all to go wrong. 


Imitation of Celebrity. The comic versions of an Elvis Impersonator and then the other side of it where bands imitate famous bands. Here we see somebody being Liam Gallagher. 


This is investigated in Alison Jackson's book Private. On the left we have David Beckham examining his tattoos in a private moment. On the right, Camilla Parker Bowles in a compromising position. 

She uses the methods that employ the long lens paparazzi style. The blurred door frames implies that they are getting observed from afar. She obviously uses lookalikes to create this. 


The ultimate family reconstruction. It is suggested that she was pregnant with Dodi Al Fayed so this has been rein-acted of what it could look like. 


ASOS - As Seen On Stars. 

It is possible to be the celebrity by dressing like them ect. 





John Paul Gaultier - Hyper Realistic - Intense Colour. Hand Paining Manipulation. References to the colours found in Indian Religion. 


The examination of a move to a god like status. Questioning our relationship to the image of stars. 






David La Chapelle sets the figures up like the last supper. 


Similar theme for Alexander Mcqueen. Shoots to fame ans is trapped in a circle of artistic objects which leads to his suicide. 





He recycles those types of images from the Golden Era of Hollywood and Juxtaposes Males and Females to create a Third person who is unidentifiable as a star. Reminiscent of a Cubist way of working. 

John Stezaker’s work re-examines the various relationships to the photographic image: as documentation of truth, purveyor of memory, and symbol of modern culture. In his collages, Stezaker appropriates images found in books, magazines, and postcards and uses them as ‘readymades’. Through his elegant juxtapositions, Stezaker adopts the content and contexts of the original images to convey his own witty and poignant meanings.


Twitter is the way we access celebrities home lives. Where they are going, what they are doing, what they ate for breakfast. The most sensation use of twitter is when that line is crossed between the public and private. There is lawsuits going on at the moment with the politician who was accused of child abuse. He is suing people on twitter for that. 



This extends within the personal realms. People selling these dreadful items. What does his say about us as a society. We want their DNA aswell as wanting to dress like them and be them. 





An example of this is the Kony 2012 which includes 20 celebrities which make us want to join the campaign. The film was released on March 5th 2012 to promote the charity and bring Kony to justice through the action of a poster campain. A date set where people will put posters up to draw attention.

the film spreads virally and it's success is astounding in an advertising sense.


The filmmaker wants to make Kony famous in order to bring him down. Before the cover the night events on the 20th, He has a public breakdown because of the success of him projects. He strips of naked and runs around. 


The poster pack success is minimal. Vancouver only had 17 people. Everybody seen the video but it wasn't seen through in the real life activism. 



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