I feel your pain: Celebrity do-gooding, cosmopolitan caring and the globalised soul

Article English OPEN
Littler, J. (2008)

Offering support for global charities has become practically part of the contemporary celebrity job description and a hallmark of the established star. Locating the expansion of this phenomenon within the post-Fordist cultural turn, this paper explores how public displays of support for “the afflicted” can be a way for celebrities to appear to raise their profile above the zone of the crudely commercial into the sanctified, quasi-religious realm of altruism and charity, whilst revealing or constructing an added dimension of personality: of compassion and caring. The paper suggests that investigating the communicative cultural flows circulating between the celebrity, their impoverished “Others” and the non-destitute, non-celebrity “ordinary” subject can tell us something both about how such power relationships are maintained and how the possibilities of change to global injustices are imagined or disavowed. To theorise these interconnections, the paper links together conceptions of the social power of celebrity with debates around cosmopolitanism, work on the mediation of distant suffering and Nietzsche's conception of “the soul”.
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