Jessica Abdilla- Selling Starlets

Posted: January 19, 2014 in Uncategorized

As mentioned previously in class, a commodity can be either a product, service or idea that derives initial value through the act of exchange; whether concerning a high-tech blender or a seemingly-stylish Snuggie, commodities remarkably take on a life of their own. One point brought up in previous discussion which I found extremely interesting was the idea of a celebrity as commodified persona. Branded into cookie-cutter categories, the persona of a celebrity certainly sells. Through positive and persistent marketing, actors, athletes and artists become prevalent social markers of desire. Rather than being known for the work they do [having use-value], the branded persona of a celebrity extends beyond their craft to create new value. For instance, self-proclaimed ‘Beliebers’ praise Justin Bieber for the idea he represents as opposed to his work as a musician. Even though members of the Belieber-subculture most likely do not know the starlet as a person, the idea of him itself carries a sense of value. Possessing personas which are larger-than-life, celebrities are able to sell everything from movie tickets and albums, to autographs and action figures.

Both a product of desire and a brand to look up to, celebrities can also be considered in the discussion of commodity fetishism. The lives of the stars are placed above that of their fans; embodying beauty, poise and perfection, starlets become a major source of interest for marketers and media outlets to delve into. Feeding the public’s obsession with starlets, news anchors often choose to display the personal lives of a celebrity over the actual work they do. As an example, Miley Cyrus’ rebellious behaviour during the Video Music Awards became a major focus of media attention over the song she had performed during the show itself.

Followed by paparazzi and die-hard fans, the lives of the rich and the famous are elevated on a pedestal. Objectified and embodying a sense of spirit, fans come to worship and obsess over celebrities. Because celebrities are real people underneath their brand, would it be fair to say the attention they receive resembles commodity fetishism, or a different form of fetishism altogether?

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