SOC103 – Status and the Paradox of the Celebrity

Abstract

Why does Kim K get to “break the internet?” Do celebrities reflect our exaggerated imaginations? Where does all that money go? Why does Woody Allen get to make movies and Ben Rothlisberger get to still play football? In this week’s we tackle Celebrity status and its presence in contemporary society. Trust us, there is no other status with this much power and mystery…let’s break it down.

Keywords

Status, Celebrity, American Culture, Popular Culture, Entertainment, Celebrity culture

Resources

  1. Short biography on Max Weber, one of the founding fathers of sociology
  2. Weber on Class, Status, and Power
  3. Jonathan Turner and Jan Stets’ (2004) The Sociology of Emotions – On Theodore Kemper’s theory on structure and emotions, status, and power.

    Within social situations, individuals possess relative power (authority), or the ability to tell others what to do, and status (conceptualized as prestige or honor rather than as a position in a structure).

  4. Quote from Kurzman et al.’s reading on Celebrity status

    “Celebrity is an omnipresent feature of contemporary society, blazing lasting impressions in the memories of all who cross its path. In keeping with Weber’s conception of status, celebrity has come to dominate status “honor,” generate enormous economic benefits, and lay claim to certain legal privileges. Compared with other types of status, however, celebrity is status on speed. It confers honor in days, not generations; it decays over time, rather than accumulating; and it demands a constant supply of new recruits, rather than erecting barriers to entry.”

  5. Caitlyn Jenner’s coming out
  6. Ben Rothlisberger’s wikipedia page, if you’re interested in the scandals discussed
  7. Kathy Griffin: My Life on the D-List: Season 1
  8. Neal Gabler’s Life: The Movie: How Entertainment Conquered Reality (2000)- very good critical read on how real life drama (i.e. celebrity lives, reality tv shows) have become our primary form of entertainment
  9. American Crime Story: The People VS O.J. Simpson
  10. ESPN’s O.J.: Made in America
  11. Boston bombing movies – there are already two of them! Patriots Day and Stronger.
  12. Jennifer Lawrence and the gender pay gap in Hollywood
  13. Special Envoy Angelina Jolie for UNHCR
  14. Graeme Turner’s Understanding Celebrity (2013) – Evaluates the many taxonomies of “celebrity” and how the title has evolved with society and technology. He also devotes quite a bit of time to discussing how

    “the celebrity industry is one that spends a great deal of its time masking the fact that it exists at all.”

  15. Here’s a cool illustrated guide to Guy Debord’s The Society of the Spectacle. And here’s the actual text, if you want to dig deeper! (P.S. It’s actually pronounced GEE Debord!).
  16. Hell’s Kitchen
  17. Read the script for the “Our Town” play here
  18. Jay-Z’s website, his book  Decoded, his documentary TIME: The Kalief Browder Story, if you want to become like Omar
  19. Arashi’s wikipedia page and official website, if you want to worship them like Penn
  20. Forbes 2017 list of “The World’s Highest-Paid Celebrities List”, showing Kim Kardashian made $45.5 million and Jay-Z made $42 million.
  21. Kim Kardashian-West’s instagram page, if you want to fangirl like Ellen
  22. The Jay-Z produced documentary on Kalief Browder titled, “Time: The Kalief Browder Story” is on Netflix.

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