What a girl's gotta do: the labor of the biopolitical celebrity in austerity Britain

Article English OPEN
Kokoli, Alexandra M. ; Winter, Aaron (2015)
  • Publisher: Taylor & Francis

This article debunks the widespread view that young female celebrities, especially those who rise to fame through reality shows and other forms of media-orchestrated self-exposure, dodge “real” work out of laziness, fatalism, and a misguided sense of entitlement. Instead, the authors argue that becoming a celebrity in a neoliberal economy such as that of the United Kingdom, where austerity measures disproportionately disadvantage the young, women, and the poor, is not as irregular or exceptional a choice as previously thought, especially since the precariousness of celebrity earning power adheres to the current demands of the neoliberal economy on its workforce. What is more, becoming a celebrity involves different forms of labor that are best described as biopolitical, since such labor fully involves and consumes the human body and its capacities as a living organism. Weight gain and weight loss, pregnancy, physical transformation through plastic surgery, physical symptoms of emotional distress, and even illness and death are all photographically documented and supplemented by extended textual commentary, usually with direct input from the celebrity, reinforcing and expanding on the visual content. As well as casting celebrity work as labor, the authors also maintain that the workings of celebrity should always be examined in the context of wider cultural, social and real economies.
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