Kerry Katona and Cheryl Cole have similar personal histories, and comparable journeys to fame. Both come from distinctly working-class families in the north of England, both have been in girl bands; in reality shows; and in very well publicised marriages. But their realities now are polls apart. In this guest post, Laura Clancy asks: How, and why, has Cole transgressed her working-class roots to become the ‘nation’s sweetheart’, idolised by girls as the pinnacle of femininity, whilst Katona is mocked for being a ‘chav’- the ultimate working-class insult? Why is fame and success measured by distance from working-class-ness?
Posts Tagged ‘fame’
On 9th May, The Education Secretary Michael Gove delivered a keynote speech at a conference hosted by Brighton College (The Sunday Times ‘Best Independent School’ no less). The title – What does it mean to be an educated person? – is provocative enough, but the full speech is really something else. There has already been a lot of excellent analysis of Gove’s sneering and patronising speech on twitter, in cartoon form, on several blogs (a great example being this by The Plashing Vole), among professional associations, and in the news. We don’t want to repeat too much of this, but rather to draw attention to three key issues about education reform and aspirations discourse under this government – crystalised within Gove’s speech – which continue to raise concern for us.
On 7th May the UK’s Guardian newspaper carried a short story headlined “Brian Cox urges BBC to do more to educate viewers”. It reports that, in an interview in Radio Times, Physicist and Science TV presenter Brian Cox said:
Television is the most powerful way of getting ideas across. Often, it doesn’t take its responsibilities seriously. … We have had enough of talent shows. I don’t want my kids exposed to them and get it into their minds there’s a shortcut to riches. I want them to go to university and work hard for everything they get.
While we welcome the recognition of the importance of television as a pedagogical tool, we are troubled by some of the assumptions underlying Cox’s statement about young people’s aspirations and their relationship to Reality TV talent shows. In this blog, Kim and Heather share their concerns.
Interviewer: Is there anything you would like to be known for [in the future]?
Jason: Um, no, not right now.
Our first phase of data collection is almost complete, and the team are currently working their way through pages upon pages of transcripts from 24 group interviews with year 10 and 12 pupils from six schools across England. In this post, Kim reflects on some of the emerging findings and the thornier methodological issues arising for us as a team.
As part of this research we’re doing case studies of 12 celebrities that came up in the group interviews. In December we blogged a tentative top 12 based on fieldwork in our first three schools. We’ve now visited two more schools, Merlin, in the rural South West, and Windsor, in Manchester (all the names we use in our writing are pseudonyms). Our final school pulled out at the last minute and we’ve had to arrange a replacement but have decided to pick our case studies based on where we’re at now so that we can get started on the data collection. In this post I reveal who they are…
On Friday 25th January, the CelebYouth team attended a workshop organised by Tori Cann and Ester McGeeney for postgraduate researchers working in the areas of gender, media and generation. While not strictly postgraduates, we were keen to attend the event and hear presentations of new and emerging work from ‘young’ scholars working in the field, as well as the keynotes from Bev Skeggs and Yvonne Tasker. In this post we give our overall impressions of the day. In separate posts we explore two of the themes that came through for us: social class and femininity and masculinity and race as absent presences. In addition to these, we have written a short post about contempotary spaces for feminist scholarship and collective action – a theme which emerged from discussions at the end of the conference.
X-Factor judge and singer Tulisa was in the press last month for her response to comments made by fellow judge Louis Walsh about her ‘WAG’ status. On a recent live show, Louis called Tulisa ‘Mrs WAG’, referring to media reports of her relationship with footballer Danny Simpson. In a quick and defensive riposte, Tulisa replied: ‘Excuse me? You mean I’m a WAF! It means: “Was Already Famous”’. In this post, Kim takes a look underneath the meanings of WAG and WAF and examines Tulisa’s position within wider debates about contemporary fame.
This post is a shout out to Bryony Kimmings‘ new artistic experiment. Credible Likeable Superstar Role Model (CLSRM for short) is a collaboration between Bryony and her 9 year old niece Taylor. Bryony got in touch with us a few weeks ago when we launched this website. She introduced herself:
I am a performance artist. I am based between Cambridge at a venue called the Junction and Soho Theatre and Southbank Centre in London. A contact in the education department of a big theatre sent me a link to your wonderful website and the research project you are currently amidst. Its raising some attention! They thought it would be useful reading for my current project.
The social statement for Bryony’s new project describes how it:
seeks to promote a non-conventional character as a role model for young people using the current strategies and methods available. The aim is to explore whether this character can have the same amount of influence on young people as the current conventional offer. If this succeeds then we can conclude that there is potential for an alternative offer for young people. If this fails we can make a more informed social comment on the current offer and the powers generating it.