Desecrating Celebrity

Fourth International Celebrity Studies Conference
Sapienza Università di Roma
Rome, 26-28 June 2018

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Celebrity culture is the result of a twofold process – ‘celebritization’ (i.e. Boykoff and Goodman 2009) and ‘celebrification’ (Gamson 1994; Turner 2006) – connected to a mediascape that is defined by traditional mass media and, recently, by the internet. Within these mediascapes celebrities and micro-celebrities constantly emerge through online performances which are recognized by audiences as an expression of celebrity status. If we consider celebrity as a process, as a set of circulated strategies and practices (boyd, Marwick 2011) that build publicly, we have to reflect also on moments that remove celebrity from a place of value. Across cultures, degradation is the opposite to accreditation ceremonies (such as celebrification and celebritization), which are two social practices that involve a community’s shared values and specific social roles (Garfinkel, 1957).

In contemporary society, media rituals of recruitment and ‘celebrification’ can easily turn into rituals of degradation, marking significant movements in a person’s social position. In other words, media constantly manages a complex and intensified representation, where the person’s status dynamics are constantly negotiated and evaluated by the people and the audience through their participation and everyday interactions. The role of the diffused audience (Abercrombie and Longhurst, 1998) is crucial: a degradation ritual without witnesses does not have a social impact.

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