Claims to Fame Celebrity in Contemporary America

ISBN-10: 0520083539
ISBN-13: 9780520083530
Edition: 1994
Authors: Joshua Gamson
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Description: 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  More...

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Book details

List price: $29.95
Copyright year: 1994
Publisher: University of California Press
Publication date: 3/2/1994
Binding: Paperback
Pages: 268
Size: 6.00" wide x 9.00" long x 0.75" tall
Weight: 0.946
Language: English

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analyze the meaning of fame in American life, Gamson begins with the often-heard criticisms that today's heroes have been replaced by pseudoheroes, that notoriety has become detached from merit.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.

List of Illustrations
Acknowledgments
Introduction: Explaining Angelyne
The Great and the Gifted: Celebrity in the Early Twentieth Century
The Name and the Product: Late Twentieth-Century Celebrity
Industrial-Strength Celebrity
The Negotiated Celebration
Props, Cues, and the Advantages of Not Knowing: Audiences in the World of Celebrity Production
Hunting, Sporting, and the Willing Audience: The Celebrity-Watching Tourist Circuit
Can't Beat the Real Thing: Production Awareness and the Problem of Authenticity
Believing Games
Conclusion: Celebrity, Democracy, Power, and Play
Appendix: Theoretical and Methodological Notes
Notes
Works Cited
Index

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