Celebrity, Media and History

Evans, Jessica (2005). Celebrity, Media and History. In: Evans, Jessica and Hesmondhalgh, David eds. Understanding Media. Understanding media. Maidenhead: Open University Press, pp. 12–55.


This chapter assesses the relationship between celebrity and the media over time, questioning the idea that the interest in celebrity is definitive of our time. It presents a definition of celebrity as a 'mediated persona' that has persisted over time, focusing on the period 1890-1930 as a critical period during which the personal lives of public personae become a focus of popular representation. A modern-day case study of the 'celebritisation' of politics raises the question of whether celebrities are dominating culture in an unprecedented way. Throughout the chapter and through several case studies, two approaches to celebrity are contrasted and tested: celebrity as populist democracy and celebrity as cultural decline.

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