Author Archive

Goodbye Aisha

Written by Heather. Posted in News

So the project officially ended last week. This means that the money stops flowing. This also means that Aisha, our wonderful researcher, has left Brunel – though we hope to have her back for a month in the autumn to do some writing. Aisha was only on the project for three months but in that time she presented with us in London and Chicago, tweeted and blogged @CelebYouthUK, designed a fabulous pull up banner, watched and made notes on videos of Prince Harry, Nicki Minaj, Katie Price and Mario Balotelli, and coded these and the rest of the case study dataset.  Most recently she helped Heather direct a series of short films based on our data (coming to a YouTube channel near you soon). You can see the multi-talented Aisha in her comedy debut below.

 

Thank you

Written by Heather. Posted in News

Now we are about two weeks from the official end of the project, we (Heather, Kim, Laura and Aisha) thought it might be a good moment to say thank you to all the people who’ve supported us. While acknowledgements are a standard part of a book or dissertation, people don’t normally get the chance to do the same for a research study. Having this website, gives us this lovely opportunity…

War, nonviolence and popular culture

Written by Heather. Posted in News

Anzac_poppiesWhen Michael Gove spoke out against what he saw as unpatriotic myths about the First World War, his main targets were drawn from popular culture: the film Oh, What a Lovely War! and the television series The Monocled Mutineer and Blackadder. In this way, he acknowledged the crucial role of the popular media in how we come to think about war and violence. This is not to suggest that the media somehow causes violence. As Stuart Hall pointed out, there is no “smooth line of continuity … between shoot-outs at the OK Corral, and delinquents knocking over old ladies in the street in Scunthorpe” but what we do get from the media are “messages about violence” and these deserve our critical attention. In this post, Heather discusses some of these messages about violence in the coverage of war and exploring the place of nonviolence in these.

Racism in US Sport

Written by Heather. Posted in News

Racism is one element of sports that leagues all over the world have been trying to eradicate. Despite these efforts, instances of racism continue to pop up in diverse range of sports across the globe, as Aisha points out when she asks “Is it ok to be racist sometimes?”. Sports in the United States are no different in this regard. In this post, guest-blogger Scott Huntington shows that recent history has seen a number of racial controversies in U.S. sports.

Schadenfreude, Sexism and Child Stars

Written by Heather. Posted in News

Mara WilsonWhile our obsession with celebrities often receives criticism for its vapidity or vanity, it seems that very few feel the need to call attention to its more damaging and pervasive issues. This is not to say that there are no criticisms of the larger issues found within and spread by Hollywood. Rather, it seems far easier to criticise pre-teen girls for their obsessive crushes on the boy band of the moment than it is to take a critical look at the predatory nature of the studios behind those boy bands, pop princesses and other young stars.

A current craze in dire need of further critical discussion is the fascination with “child stars gone wild”. In this post, journalist and guest blogger Scott Huntington asks: Why do we desire to track these train wrecks? How does this fascination shed a light on issues in Hollywood culture and/or our culture at large? Are these issues gender neutral, or do they dovetail with the ongoing struggle with sexism within our culture?

Stories from our data: Will – ‘I just want to be out there’

Written by Heather. Posted in News

Dwyane+Wade+Kobe+Bryant+Los+Angeles+Lakers+wsK5HKGlMaflWe’re currently working on ways to make our findings accessible to a general audience including those who work with young people such as teachers, careers advisors and youth workers, as well as other researchers.  As part of this we’re writing up vignettes based on the individual interviews we did with young people. With advice from our advisory group and other ‘friends’ of CelebYouth we’re working on a dedicated interactive website which will host these and other research findings and resources.

As we develop these we thought we’d share two of these vignettes in two blog posts. In this post, Heather shares one of her interviews, with someone from a rural school who chose the pseudonym Will Smith. In another post, Kim shares the story of Mariam from Manchester.

We’d love to hear what people think of these – are they interesting? Do they give a useful insight into the participants and their aspirations? Do you think these will be useful resources and to who? What questions do these raise for you? In what ways do you think these stories might get used?

Stories from our data – Mariam: ‘I want my children to know a woman can do it’

Written by Heather. Posted in News

hills_208_01We’re currently working on ways to make our findings accessible to a general audience including those who work with young people such as teachers, careers advisors and youth workers, as well as other researchers.  As part of this we’re writing up vignettes based on the individual interviews we did with young people. With advice from our advisory group and other ‘friends’ of CelebYouth we’re working on a dedicated interactive website which will host these and other research findings and resources.

As we develop these we thought we’d share two of these vignettes in two blog posts. In this post, Kim shares the story of Mariam from Manchester. In another post,  Heather shares one of her interviews, with someone from a rural school who chose the pseudonym Will Smith.

We’d love to hear what people think of these – Are they interesting? Do they give a useful insight into the participants and their aspirations? Do you think these will be useful resources and to who? What questions do these raise for you? In what ways do you think these stories might get used?

Conscious Uncoupling: On class, empathy and authenticity

Written by Heather. Posted in News

coupleOn 25th March, actress Gwyneth Paltrow announced on her website goop.com that she and musician husband Chris Martin were separating after 10 years of marriage. The couple have long had their detractors and many were quite happy to hear of the couple’s demise. However, there appears to be a sense of empathy towards Paltrow that is not often present in stories of celebrity break-ups. In this guest post, Tamara Heaney explores whether social class plays a part in how the story was reported.

We need to talk about coding…

Written by Heather. Posted in News

While struggling to write a paper about how technology entrepreneurs came up as celebrities in our data, I’ve become fascinated by coding. Coding, or computer programming, is currently being pushed by a range of national and transnational bodies and corporations. The UK has declared 2014 The Year of Code and introduced coding into the primary and secondary school curriculum. In 2013, The European Commission set up an annual Europe Code Week with events across the continent. US-based code.org presents itself as a global campaign with its website proclaiming that it has led to over 1.5 billion lines of coding by students. Within these campaigns coding is presented as a vital skill both for individual and national competitiveness. However, while many, if not most, of the early programmers were female, computing has since become a male-dominated field. Indeed as research shows, media representations of technological workers, like those who work with science and mathematics, predominantly feature white, middle-class, geeky men. This raises questions about who has access to these powerful coding knowledges and who can identify with the technological futures invoked by these campaigns and initiatives. In this blogpost I begin the task of addressing these questions by identifying a key tension in the calls to coding: coding as a challenging and elite skill vs coding as easy and accessible to all.

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