You may think it an odd subject for a University to have an entire module on, but the study of ‘Celebrity’ in film and media courses is becoming very popular.
Just last week the Inaugural Celebrity Studies Journal Conference was held in Australia where over 120 delegates met from around the World and subjects such as celebrity philanthropy, ‘queer’ celebrity, the production of celebrity and digital celebrity, feminism, political celebrity and the list goes on.
A Dr Holmes of University of East Anglia’s School of film said “The conference is testament to the fact that the journal, and the study of celebrity, is alive and well and clearly expanding across a range of different disciplines, from film, media and television studies, to law and literary studies, and the digital humanities.”
Some scholars in other fields may scoff and while at University I heard a lot of mockery towards media courses but the theoretical side to such studies is very similar to psychology and social courses.
Co-organiser and co-editor of Celebrity Studies Dr Sean Redmond, of Deakin University, said: “We don’t like to admit it but celebrities offer us forms of identification and belonging, and we measure our happiness and sense of self-worth against them. They offer people, fans, a great deal of pleasure, and pleasure is a very important part of everyday life.”
It’s true that on a Saturday night there is probably far more exciting or important things we could be doing than watching Strictly Come Dancing, but it not only provides with entertainment and escapism but it also provides us with a catalyst to talk to others. The next day when we go to work we can join in the conversation of who got booted out at the weekend and who is having an affair with whom! Some may truly find this pleasurable as Dr Redmond suggests but there are those who would much rather not watch a B-List celebrity dance around in too tight spandex.
It’s also hard to avoid celebrity exposure over the Christmas period. Our TVs are jam-packed with Christmas Specials starring “special guest” that we would be just bonkers to miss. You may go out shopping and like myself have found that on every other billboard or bus I see a celebrity face advertising some perfume or overpriced watch.
The only ways to avoid such events is to stay firmly locked in your house and do not switch on the TV, but how many of us are going to do that? Celebrities are used every day to promote one product or another, are we more drawn into that product because of who is advertising it? I would say we certainly remember it better, we may even find ourselves saying “You know that advert for that perfume, the one with Brad Pitt in it” Sometimes the celebrities are bigger than the brand they are selling.
Celebrities can bring about a certain pleasure but they can also bring about much envy and can set an awful example for our younger generation; it’s not encouraging when you read a certain A-List celebrity spent more than you earn in a year on champagne, in one night!
It’s concerning that a celebrity affair makes the front pages over more crucial news and it’s frightening that a teenager tries the impossible feat of looking like the photo-shopped singer on the cover of a magazine aimed at their age. But it’s not all glitz and glamour for the famous; constantly being photographed, being away from family a lot is a difficult thing for anyone. To top it all off their decisions in life, both good and bad are scrutinised by the press, the public, scholars who study them.
We probably forget that we too make good and bad decisions daily; luckily for us they aren’t flaunted for the World to see.