What on earth is Celebrity Studies?

RASHMEE ROSHAN LALL December 12, 2012

One of the world’s most extraordinary conferences opens in Melbourne on Wednesday, December 12. It’s called ‘Celebrity Studies’ and it’s the first time it’s been held. Ever. It is the inaugural conference of the eponymous journal. And the press release promises that it will put the “spotlight on celebrity culture”.

Do we really need any more?

Yes, says Dr Su Holmes (co-founder and co-editor of the journal) and incidentally at the University of East Anglia’s School of Film, Television and Media Studies, “the conference will recognise the importance of celebrity in understanding expressions of identity from various economic, cultural and political perspectives, as well as the inextricably linked nature of celebrity and consumption and the unique and crucial insight celebrity offers into the contemporary promotion and publicity industries.”

Co-organiser and co-editor of ‘Celebrity Studies’, Dr Sean Redmond, of Australia’s Deakin University adds, “We don’t like to admit it but celebrities offer us forms of identification and belonging, and we measure our happiness and sense of self-worth against them. They offer people, fans, a great deal of pleasure, and pleasure is a very important part of everyday life.”

I can see what the good doctors are attempting to do. The conference will discuss celebrity philanthropy, the production of celebrity and digital celebrity, celebrity and feminism, political celebrity and the transnational and global flows of fame. Papers on celebrity and aging, television and its impact on celebrity, paparazzi photography and the celebrity industry will be presented. Through the scholarly discussions and the academic papers, the world will be encouraged to see celebrity research as a viable, perfectly serious, extraordinarily well-formed branch of learning.

A little like Paris Hilton in spectacles?

A course that People magazine could teach? Mon dieu.