This page record blogs and publicity for the project – you can find our longer academic and practice articles listed here. You can find details of events and talks here – most with accompanying links, videos, powerpoints or soundfiles.
Akile and Heather wrote an article for Open Democracy’s Transformation section: Celebrity talk and the problem of inequality.
Laura blogged for the Surrey University Sociology: “He’d be naughty…he’s maybe stupid….Or just bored of education”: Mario Balotelli, celebrity culture, aspirations and young masculinities
Heather blogged for the Not the Neoliberal Life website: Poking holes in the toxic positivity of contemporary life
We blogged for the @TeacherToolkit website: Quick Wins versus Hard Graft.
We blogged for the youth charity Character Scotland: Young People’s views of celebrity philanthropy: What can they tell us?
The research team have used this work in their teaching and are always excited to hear about other people doing so. The project is listed as a resource for Gillian Rose’s book Visual Methodologies.
In June 2015, Heather appeared on Radio 4’s Thinking Allowed hosted by Laurie Taylor. She was on with Garth Stahl to talk about his recent book on white working-class boys’ identities and aspirations. As well as drawing on the CelebYouth research, she talked about the book Urban Youth and Schooling that she wrote with Louise Archer and Sumi Hollingworth.
In October 2014, our research and conference featured as the cover story of Brunel’s Express Magazine. In August 2014 Kim and Heather wrote an opinion piece for the ESRC’s magazine Society Now (we’re on page 16). In July 2014, an article appeared online in Nottingham Trent University’s Loud magazine entitled: Not Impressed by Reality TV Stars , and subtitled: Teen Dream is to Succeed – and Fame Follows.
In June 2014 Heather was interviewed for the website Media Monarchy about ‘celebrity storylines’.
In May 2014 our research hit the national press with Teenagers have ‘morality play’ view of celebrity: an article based on our study in the Sunday Telegraph by journalist John Bingham. This story was then picked up by the Mail on Sunday and by Grace Dent in Independent Voices in a very entertaining piece (unfortunately she got a few things inaccurate about our study, but we’re fans so we’ll let it go). The Mail story attracted over 100 comments online. This was our favourite: ‘I always like to see what university poured money down the drain doing these studies.This research was useless. They would have spent the money more wisely by burning the money last winter as a source of heat. At least the heating bill would have been less. Instead they did this study and basically threw the money away.’ Luckily our university didn’t fund this study, the ESRC did.
In December 2013, Kim appeared on Channel 4 News drawing on the CelebYouth study to refute the idea that young people have a ‘poverty of aspirations’. You can read more and view the report here. In the same month we also featured in the ESRC’s annual flagship magazine Britain in 2014. You can download our article on Celebrity and Aspiration. And just a little before this we had a two page article published on pages 14-15 of Issue 122 of Research Intelligence, the magazine of the British Educational Research Association. The article was entitled: Celebrity and Youth Aspirations: The significance of hard work.
In June 2013, Heather appeared briefly on Global on BBC World to talk about celebrity culture along with fabulous Kate Middleton lookalike Gabriella Douglas.
In March 2013, Kim contributed to a news article on Rihanna and celebrity, written by journalist Tanya Sweeney for the Evening Herald. The article, entitled ‘ Is Rihanna in full flight or just a car crash waiting to happen?‘ was published on the 15th March. Kim was asked to comment on the future of the Rihanna brand and talks about some of the emerging themes from our research with young people:
Dr Kimberley Allen, of Manchester Metropolitan University, who along with her colleagues Dr Heather Mendick and Dr Laura Harvey is researching into young people and celebrity, has a theory as to Rihanna’s ongoing appeal.
“I think what is remarkable and noteworthy about Rihanna is her ubiquity, the centrality of her relationship to Brown to her celebrity image, and the role of social media in this,” she observes. “Celebrity maintains its desirability and power through generating intrigue and interest among the audience, particularly a desire to get behind the public face of the star, to locate the ‘real’, private persona behind the celebrity brand or image. Rihanna – or at least those around her – is extremely savvy in generating this interest through a complex inter-weaving of her personal and public self through her songs and other outputs including her Instagram feed.”
“As ‘the public’ we feel we get glimpses of her ‘real’, private self – the ups and downs, trials and tribulations, of her relationship with Brown not just through candid interviews, but also via the public’s access to her Instragram pictures,” notes Dr Allen. “Also her songs – including those with him (Nobody’s Business) and album names (Unapologetic) – explicitly invite us to read certain things in to their relationship, her decisions to stay with him, her ‘don’t give a damn’ attitude and so on.
“These private and public outputs are not separate but are (knowingly or not) all part of her brand – a brand that generates intrigue and debate, feelings of respect by some (for refusing judgment from the public, for being a strong woman, etc) and, elsewhere, judgement and disappointment by others,” she adds.
“In many ways, these morally charged discussions about Rihanna’s celebrity are fascinating in what they say about female sexuality, ‘choice’ and agency in the contemporary, seemingly ‘post-feminist’ age, and, in particular, it tells us something about society’s understandings of gender violence and sexual inequality. In our research with young people, we’ve witnessed heated debates about her ‘private’ conduct as much as her talent. These discussions illustrate the complexity of her image, but also speak to how celebrities operate as an important resource for young people to say something more broadly about their own and others’ moral conduct.”
Right at the start of the project in November 2012, we wrote a blog for the Guardian Teachers Network entitled Is Celebrity Culture Really that Bad for our Students? And the project was featured in the Times Higher Education ‘Grant winners‘ section on the 4th October. Thanks to John Elmes, Times Higher Education