Going Cheap?: Female Celebrity in the Tabloid, Reality and Scandal Genres

School of Film and Television Studies
University of East Anglia
Norwich, UK
June 25, 2008

This one-day event sponsored by the School of Film and Television Studies
will examine how discourses of tabloidism, “reality,” and scandal shape
the construction of female celebrity in contemporary and historical
periods.  It originates with the broadly-felt sense that female celebrity
(at least of a certain kind) is seen to be depreciating in value and it
asks why this might be the case.  While work on stardom/ celebrity has
acknowledged the existence of hierarchies of fame, surprisingly little
attention has been paid to how such hierarchies are gendered. We will
explore whether such hierarchies have intensified of late and the factors
which are shaping this process, while also reflecting on how this shift
might constitute a challenge for the next wave of scholarship on

Questions include, but are not limited to: Is the perceived uncoupling of
talent from fame in fact a particularly gendered phenomenon?  Is it
postfeminist?  How do new delivery systems such as YouTube and older ones
like celebrity magazines favor and foster the spectacle of female “train
wreck” celebrity? What kinds of narratives about wealth and class do these
female celebrities anchor and how do they uphold or challenge
nationalized/regionalized archetypes of the “chav” or “white trash?” How
do the scandals in which they so often figure differ from those of some
male celebrities (as was amply demonstrated in 2007 when a comparative
dignity and respectful distance was accorded by a variety of media outlets
after Owen Wilson’s suicide attempt)?  What contemporary views about
female sexuality are inscribed onto the bodies of these celebrities?  What
drives the fascination/repulsion for “bad” women/girls (Britney Spears,
Lindsay Lohan, Paris Hilton, Rosie O’Donnell, Amy Winehouse, Charlotte
Church, Jade Goody) in today’s celebrity culture and what are the
historical precedents for this?  Related and proximate topics including
divadom, celebrity feuds, the “toxic” celebrity couple, and the potential
reinforcement of age-old cultural prohibitions on attention-seeking as
“unfeminine” will also factor in symposium discussions.

We are accepting a limited number of papers for this event.  To propose a
paper, please send a 300 word abstract and short biographical note by
March 15 to both Professor Diane Negra ([log in to unmask]) and Dr. Su
Holmes ([log in to unmask]) in the School of Film and Television
Studies at UEA.

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