Posts Tagged ‘Will Smith’

Pharrell’s ‘new black’ : on racism, happiness and not being a ‘sore point’

Written by Kim. Posted in News

pharrell-oprah-interview-1We’ve been struck by news this week that Pharrell Williams – successful music producer, singer and collaborator – has asserted his belief in ‘the New Black’.  In an interview with US chat show host Oprah Winfrey, Williams stated that he represented a different kind of black identity:

The “new black” doesn’t blame other races for our issues. The “new black” dreams and realizes that it’s not a pigmentation; it’s a mentality. And it’s either going to work for you, or it’s going to work against you. And you’ve got to pick the side you’re gonna be on.

In this post Kim troubles Pharrell’s move, arguing that it denies the ongoing realities of racism.

Extreme neoliberalism: Will Smith and mathematics

Written by Heather. Posted in News

Neoliberalism, the marketisation of everything, including ourselves, runs through our data. Indeed we’ve encountered several of examples of  ‘extreme neoliberalism’ where celebrities find ever more excessive and expressive ways to convince us that their wealth and success derive not from luck or privilege but from superhuman levels of hard work and self-transformation. In a recent example, US actor Matthew McConaughey used his Oscars speech to tell us that his hero is himself in ten years, writing his success as the result of endless striving. However, it is the actor, musician and celebrity dad Will Smith who continues to provide the most compelling examples of extreme neoliberalism. Memorably, he once assured us that his commitment to sickening hard work is such that he would rather die than get off a treadmill before someone else. In this post Heather focuses on her favourite example from Will Smith in which he claims that he can choose the answer to two plus two.

What do young people think about Will Smith?

Written by Kim. Posted in News

Well, 2014 has well and truly started and there’s no let up for the team with lots of analysis being undertaken in the coming months. Last year we finished all our school data collection and began coding and analysing the data from the group interviews, and we’ve now moved on to looking at the individual interviews with our participants which explore in greater depth their own aspirations and imagined futures. These interviews were fascinating to conduct and now to return to. We’ll be posting blogs about those individual interviews soon, but we thought we’d start the year by reflecting further on some of the  initial analysis we’ve conducted on our group interview data.  In these group interviews, we focused on exploring young people’s views on celebrity culture: the celebrities they liked, disliked, and how these evaluations of ‘good’ and ‘bad’ celebrities were made.  As we’ve discussed elsewhere, while many of our 12 case study celebrities generated relatively mixed views among our participants, one celebrity in particular was universally liked, if not loved: Will Smith, variously located as an inspirational role model, a dream father, an entertaining friend and ‘cool guy’.  In this blog post Kim explores some of the patterns and themes in young people’s talk about Will in those group interviews and begins to question what these might reveal about young people’s collective sense making in relation to aspiration, success and race.

When academics and journalists collide

Written by Heather. Posted in News

Our universities are continually invoking us to do research that has ‘impact’. They’re thrilled when we get media coverage and, being honest, I also enjoy the aura of glamour that comes with media attention. So, we were pleased when we were contacted by the person in charge of media promotion for this year’s BERA Conference, saying that he was considering press releasing our paper. In this post, I reflect on this experience of talking through possible journalistic angles on our work and on why it all fell through.

From Kardashian e-bile to Will Smith Fever: Case study data collection and a Sociologist on the move

Written by Kim. Posted in News

The team have now started collecting data on our 12 case study celebrities. Over the next six months we will be collecting data from an array of sources – including Twitter, Facebook and national newspapers – as we track the media representations of our case study celebs and discourses of aspiration within these.  We will also be analysing other supplementary texts that appear to be central to their celebrity image and ‘back story’ including their autobiographies, documentaries, and their TV shows, films or music. As Heather recently reported, these additional sources are wide and varied – culminating in a rather bizarre but completely legitimate Amazon order from Brunel University. In this post, Kim makes some emerging observations from the case study data collection, and remakes on the inescapability of one celebrity in particular.

Case study materials from ‘I Am … Sasha Fierce’ to Tom Daley’s ‘My Story’

Written by Heather. Posted in News

I’ve recently submitted my strangest work-related Amazon order ever for research materials to support our case studies of twelve celebrities so I thought I’d share it via the blog. We’ve picked twelve celebrities who came up repeatedly in our group interviews and who seemed to have significance for the young people to whom we spoke. They are: Beyonce, Bill Gates, Emma Watson, Justin Bieber, Kate Middleton, Katie Price, Kim Kardashian, Mario Balotelli, Nicki Minaj, Prince Harry, Tom Daley and Will Smith. In addition to focusing on three sources of data across six months, we’re swotting up on our case study celebs’ back stories hence the Amazon order. So, what did we choose?

Final Top 12 Celebrities from the Group Interviews

Written by Heather. Posted in Featured, News

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…

Young people’s celebrities: a tentative top 12

Written by Heather. Posted in News

We’re now about half way through the group interviews with young people aged 14 to 17. When we finish next term we will have talked to about 150 people across six schools in London, the South West and the North West of England. All school names used are pseudonyms. From these data we are going to select 12 celebrities to explore as case studies – delving into the discourses of aspiration that feature in talk about them. In a recent meeting we came up with this list of 12 based on the first half of the interviews…

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