Our Top Posts of 2014

Written by Heather. Posted in News

As 2014 began we looked back on our top posts of 2013. As it ends, we look back on the top posts of 2014. So below we’ve collected together the 10 blogs that we’ve published this year which have accumulated the most unique visitors according to Google Analytics. It’s great to see that this Top 10, captures the CelebYouth mix of our own blogs and guest posts, covering the findings of the project, reflections on our methodology and on the experience of doing a research project more broadly, and discussions of education policy and celebrity culture.

In 10th place we have… 

The Reality TV Celeb – A More Accessible Kind of Role Model?

Written by Heather. Posted in News

While recently Kim and Heather explored Beyoncé and Emma Watson’s positioning as ‘feminist celebrities, it’s equally important to think about a kind of celebrity closer to home: the reality TV personality. Young people may worship the god-like figures that grace their movie screens and concert stages, but the smaller screen offers a more accessible, more relatable celebrity through the phenomenon of reality TV. In this post, guest blogger John Brasington suggests that reality TV is one of those instances where celebrity culture can encourage a young person to take on new projects and develop through experiential learning, as they see other young people develop skills, whether that’s in singing, baking, or fashion designing. These reality TV personalities are ‘real’ individuals, who can also challenge dominant stereotypes about class, race, gender, or appearance.

WAGs and Wannabes? Depictions of Girls’ Ambitions in Contemporary British Cinema

Written by Kim. Posted in News

In recent years there has been increasingly widespread debate about the ‘appropriateness’ of young people’s ambitions within areas such as the media, politics and education. In this blog post Sarah Hill looks at narratives of femininity and aspiration in the British film Kicks, exploring how the film deals with the classed and gendered nature of dominant notions of girls’ aspirations and success in the twenty-first century.

Nightcrawler: neoliberalism, psychopaths and bullying culture

Written by Kim. Posted in News

I’m looking for a job. In fact, I’ve made up my mind to find a career that I can learn and grow into. Who am I? I’m a hard worker. I set high goals and I’ve been told that I’m persistent. And I’m thinking, television news might just be something that I love as well as something I happen to be good at. Now I know that today’s work culture no longer caters to the job loyalty that could be promised to earlier generations. But I believe that good things come to those who work their asses off and that good people who reach the top of the mountain, didn’t just fall there. My motto is, ‘if you want to win the lottery, you have to make the money to buy a ticket’.

This pitch is made by Lou Bloom in a television studio in the latest Jake Gyllenhall film Nightcrawler. Lou does indeed find a career in television news – securing and selling hard-to-get footage of crime in Los Angeles to attract viewers to the network and stoke white suburban fear in Los Angeles.  Lou and the media industry in which he works are amoral – money matters more than respect or dignity: captured by the explanation Lou is given by TV News boss Nina (played by Rene Russo) that ‘If it bleeds, it leads’. While most of the online discussion of the film has focused on its depiction of US TV news and media ethics, Kim and Heather became fascinated by the way the film uses Lou to link the taking on of neoliberal values – hard work, persistence and aiming high – to psychopathic and bullying behaviour. In this post they explore the film’s messages about contemporary work.

Feminisms from 16 to 60

Written by Heather. Posted in News

What is feminism? Does feminism have an image problem? How can we work across differences of race, class and sexuality? What are the biggest contemporary feminist issues? What role is there for men within feminism? How do we deal with conflict among feminists? These were just some of the questions that were addressed the panel discussion on intergenerational feminisms and media cultures  which took place last week in a a packed room at the Marx Memorial Library in London.  Forming part of the ESRC’s Festival of Social Science, the event was hosted by Jessalynn Keller and Alison Winch from Middlesex University. Heather went along and found it inspiring to have feminists aged from 16 years to 60 on the panel and an atmosphere based on unity rather than tension. In this post, she shares some  brief insights from the event.

‘Real love?’: Unpacking John Lewis’s festive gift

Written by Kim. Posted in News

UK retailer John Lewis produces a new Christmas-themed TV advert every year. Retaining a successful formula, they combine a sentimental visual narrative, a (some would say sickly) sweet message about giving, and audio comprising a contemporary British pop star performing a classic love or festive song.  This annual offering is an eagerly awaited event, with the adverts being described as the ‘2 minutes that launch Christmas’. Last year’s production – featuring Lily Allen in the singing role – reached not only millions of homes via a TV set, but also went viral, surpassing 10 million views on YouTube. In this guest blog post, looking beyond John Lewis’s explicit aims, Steve Roberts casts a critical eye on the latest ad, asking what messages this carries about gender, sexuality and relationships.

Mythbusting – introducing our web resources for youth practitioners

Written by Heather. Posted in News

Back in July we launched a new website examining celebrity’s significance in the construction of young people’s aspirations, trying to make the our findings as widely accessible as possible. This mythbusting site is aimed at those who work with young people – including teachers, careers educators and youth workers. The site presents evidence from our two-year study to debunk a series of powerful and stigmatising myths about young people, including ‘young people want to get rich quick’, ‘young people have low aspirations’, ‘young people don’t value hard work’ and ‘young people are obsessed with celebrity culture’.

edward 400x280

Gone Girl: a film unable to surpass its underlying misogyny

Written by Kim. Posted in News

One of the lovely things about working on this project with Heather is that we both love cinema. Frequently we will send text messages to each other about a recent release. We both love film for what pleasures it offers as well as how it stimulates ideas about sociological issues that we are engaged with. Very frequently these texts articulate things that our academic language cannot – similar to the ways in which Heather has written about fiction. Recently we both watched a film that generated very different reactions, as discussed by Heather in her recent blog on Gone Girl‘s Amy. In this post, Kim responds by exploring her anger at the film’s misogyny. (Please note there are spoilers so don’t read this if you are yet to see the film.)

Gone Girl’s Amy and other femme fatales

Written by Heather. Posted in News

gone girlIt seems like everyone’s blogging about the movie Gone Girl, arguing over whether the central character Amy Dunne is a symbol of how much Hollywood (and the world) hates women or an icon of feminism or postfeminism. All of these responses seem to ignore Amy herself. In this blog Heather suggests that we should try harder to see Amy and other femme fatales on their own terms rather than insisting on reading them simply as symbols of something else.

Why academics should reference fiction more

Written by Heather. Posted in News

orlandoMemory is the seamstress, and a capricious one at that. Memory runs her needle in and out, up and down, hither and thither. We know not what comes next, or what follows after. Thus, the most ordinary movement in the world, such as sitting down at a table and pulling the inkstand towards one, may agitate a thousand odd, disconnected fragments, now bright, now dim, hanging and bobbing and dipping and flaunting, like the underlinen of a family of fourteen on a line in a gale of wind.

I’ve just finished reading Virginia Woolf’s Orlando and was struck by how much more pleasurable, insightful, provocative and better written it is than nearly all of the hundreds upon hundreds of academic books and articles I’ve read – as the exquisite quotation above on memory suggests. Beyond such quotations, Woolf’s narrative of Orlando – a person who lives for centuries, spontaneously changes from male to female and has sex with both men and women (including after changing into a woman) – says things about gender and temporality that I feel can’t be said outside of fiction. Reading novels, watching drama and otherwise engaging with fictions and fantasies has enriched my thinking so much, I’ve long wondered why I – and other academics – don’t reference these texts more often in our own work.

Address

  • School of Sport and Education, Brunel University
    Kingston Lane, Uxbridge, Middlesex, UB8 3PH

Contact

Follow Us