Star image, celebrity reality television and the fame cycle

Article English OPEN
Deller, Ruth (2016)

In this article, I discuss the phenomenon of celebrity reality television and explore its function for those participating in it. Drawing on the success of their non-celebrity counterparts, programmes such as Celebrity Big Brother, I’m a Celebrity… Get Me Out of Here and Dancing With the Stars have become popular globally and, although arguably no longer at their peak, continue to attract large audiences and significant amounts of publicity. In the article I discuss the role these shows can serve for celebrities at different levels of their careers. I argue that reality television appeals in different ways to celebrities at different points in the fame ‘cycle’: ‘ordinary’ people or ‘pre-celebrities’ seeking to become known through it; proto-celebrities who wish to expand their fame; celebrities engaged in the work of promotion for their other endeavours; celebrities who wish to remake their existing star image through using reality television as a rehabilitative strategy or an opportunity to develop new skills; and those whose careers are in a period of ‘post-celebrity’ who seek to renew their fame. I explore how a successful reality show cast is one that combines celebrities who are at a range of points in the fame cycle as the interactions between the cast members and their debates about fame and hierarchy prove a key attraction for audiences.
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