M84MC (2012-13) Lecture Five: Communication as Ritual- part 2

This is the second of the two lectures dedicated to analysing the ritual aspects of the communication strategies implemented by celebrities such as Madonna and Lady Gaga.  The lecture focuses on socio-anthropological aspects of modern celebrity myths, and explores notions of “authenticity”.

Lecture slides:  M84MC.05– 31 Oct 2012

Homework – due 7 Nov 2012

1. Assignment one
Read carefully the excerpts from a blog discussing Lady Gaga’s “authenticity” and “fakery” (in the lecture slides). In pairs, relate the excerpts to the concepts of authenticity, image management, being yourself, performance. Post your reflections on the blog.
2. Assignment two
Referring to the materials covered in the module so far, list three points or concepts you understood, and explain them in your own words. Then, list three things you didn’t understand. Be as specific as possible. Post your reflections on the blog.

3. Readings

Woolf, J. (2007) “Not the girl but the legend: mythology, photography and the posthumous cult of Diana” Woolf.2006.Mythology.Diana

12 thoughts on “M84MC (2012-13) Lecture Five: Communication as Ritual- part 2

  1. Yun, Xinlin, Tereza, Francien

    We discussed this as a group, so we have just one comment.

    All the articles show a different approach to the notion of the ‘Authentic Self’ and how this can be set down by the institution of a celebrity. The first person has a clear positivistic vision of the world, by referring to Lady Gaga as a liar who doesn’t meet with her original being and how she is born: she changed the way she was born and with doing so, she removes from who she truly is and Gaga encourage people to do so too, by saying they can become better than they are. Her the writer of the article refers to Gaga’s use of the ner-liberal notion of subjectivity which can be influenced and created by hard work. The writer of the article clearly rejects this idea.

    The second article has the same idea of authenticity and the ‘real world’ but uses it different which makes the argument looking like the opposite of the first one. The writer of the second article beliefs Lady Gaga’s performance has a great deal of authenticity in it, this is stated by the argument that Gaga is able to go against the main stream idea, because she is self aware. As an opposite of this idea the writer sets Justin Bieber down as unauthentic as he does what he is supposed to do and adds nothing really ‘new’ to this world, something Gaga does.
    The use of the discourse of age is interesting in here as the writer of the second article refers to the writer of the first one as a teenager, this idea is linked with notions of not mature and capable of making ones own decision which can be linked to how the second writer places Bieber.

    The writer of the last article shows an understanding of the notion of the creation of the institution of a celebrity, she knows Lady Gaga is not authentic but a creation. By referring to this she uses some notions of power and cleverness that made Gaga capable of creating this persona and her capability to use shock value as a way to create an image. At the beginning of her article she heavily set down the other comments as stupid, because they believe what they see. It looks a bit like telling someone Santa Clause doesn’t exist, but is just a fairy tale you have to believe in but everyone with some brains knows it’s not true.

    Reply
  2. Francien Broekhuizen

    Questions about the lecture so far:
    – I don’t completely understand how image management and control are related and specific with female celebrities. (last lesson and the article)
    – I don’t completely get the notion of female masquerade (it this that all women just act and preform and has this also to do with making beautiful? but how is this different from acting as a man?) and carnivalesque?

    What I understand:
    – Bourdieu’s capital: This is about how people can be put into ‘class’ but not only because of their money, but because of there position in society in a much broader perfective. This means that being high class or low class is not only about money, but also about having a certain culture and sociological backup that supports your position in society: for example having a good and nice family, etiquettes of behaviour: like not talking very loud and how to handle aggression. This also makes that when one is able to achieve money, one will not be part of a higher class unless it’s whole social performance matches with it’s new group. This can be seen with celebrities or football player who earn a lot of money but are social en cultural ‘bankrupt’.
    – Narrative theory: When we make sense of the world around us we use narratives to do so, this helps us to place ourselves into the world, as we create narratives of ourselves and about what we experience in our lives and these narratives are interwoven and never neutral as they depend on the subjects position of the one who tells it. All we encounter in the world is laden by these narrative to make sense of the things we encounter and the place then in relation with other narratives. Our very being is part of this narrative web which makes that we are unable to image to world and ourselves with narratives.
    Ideology: This is quite a complicated term and I hope I got it right, if not it can be place to the questions section. I think Ideologies are the ideas on our world that hold our society together. It are general accepted ideas about how the world is (or should be) structured. These notions are very much taken for granted and therefore almost invisible, but they are very much there and help us to construct meaning of what we see and how we should behave. I think an example of an ideology is the existence of men versus women, which makes women different that men (and visa versa) and it’s ‘wrong’ to mix and meddle with those ideas.

    Reply
  3. Julie W. Nyaanga

    The writer of the article first of all rejects the idea of use of Gaga’s neo-liberal notion of subjectivity which is created by working hard. The article shows how the establishment of a celebrity can be approached using the notion of the ‘authentic self. Lady gaga is shown as a different person now from when she was born. Lady gaga is now a different person because she loses her true self by changing her identity. She gives people the impression than changing who you truly are by making yourself better is actually fine.

    The second article has an idea of the real world. The writer believes that lady Gaga’s performance is very authentic as compared maybe to Justin Beiber. This comes from the statement that she is self-aware as she is able to go against mainstream media as opposed to Beiber who has nothing new. Interestingly, the concept of age is also used to bring out immaturity and incapability of making decisions.

    The last article has an interesting idea of how the institution of celebrity is created. She implies that lady gaga is a creation and is not authentic. She uses the idea of power and shrewdness which enabled gaga to create her persona as a shock value as way to create an image. She says that Lady gaga is smart enough to know how to market herself to the audience which is important because that way she has a following.

    Reply
  4. teodoragrigorie, Jennifer Deroche

    The team:Teodora Grigorie and Jennifer Deroche
    First of all, the blogger talks about Lady Gaga persona, and not the real person. The commentators even accuse the blogger that she cannot distinguish the person from the artist. Her tone is childish and she doesn’t have a reliable argument.
    We think Karen wrote the article for creating a scandal, giving it a controversial aspect. She knew that people will react, so she is trying to create her self-image as a person who sends her opinions in a very direct way. She is also presenting a persona, not the real self. Karen is upset because Lady Gaga is not natural, and she is using marketing to create an image. We think she is a little envy of Gaga’s way of sending her message and maybe she is a little naïve in what concerning celebrities.
    Angela (second comment), tries to explain her that there is a difference between Lady gaga the singer and Lady Gaga the person. She understood that Lady Gaga works in the showbiz, so it is just a façade for the fans. Therefore, real fans should be able to make a difference between showbiz characters and a real person. Lady Gaga is portraying someone whom her fans can emulate.
    The commentators think that Lady Gaga is very honest with her performance and she presents her personas very clearly. Even if the conversation is harsh, all three participants admit that Lady Gaga manages very well her image and her performance. Even Lady Gaga admits that she is telling a lie in order to make people discover the truth. Once again, the blogger’s biggest problem is that she can’t tell the difference between a character and a real person, and they use Julia Roberts’ hooker character as an example, to make her understand.
    Nevertheless, we think the blogger wants to make everybody think like her, because she’s acting like she needs approval.

    Reply
  5. Kelebonye Bagai

    The first article on the about Lady Gaga’s fakery is very much unjustifiable because in real life situations people’s characters change depending on where they are and what they are doing and to a larger extent what they are expected to at that particular moment. It should be noted that Lady Gaga is an entertainer and she is also under pressure to live to the expectation of her fans. Postmodernism wants people to do what may bring results in this case profit not accurate and a certain level of moral high ground and class based genre. when boxers use their own style to knock out opponents it is received kindly and it will no necessarily bring any panic and ill comments because someone has approved of it. When Lady Gaga says something on the stage or does something people forget that she is doing her trade and her fans also have certain expectations from her. entertainment has no limits as to what to say or do. Mr Been puts up his performance and it is normal and entertaining and no one thinks it may badly affect the viewers especially young ones as they may imitate him and end up in trouble. it is reasonable to say that if her game suits her and work well for her and her fans then why should she not continue. Shakespeare talks about life being a tale told by an idiot full of sound and furry signifying nothing. People who wants to be too judgemental sometimes forget that they are not the one to dictate what people have to do. if one tries do define what life should be like might as well be an idiot because he/she might lose his/her wit along the way. Celebrities like Lady Gaga are performers and as such they need to get their strategies right or else they may not make it- it is survival of the fittest. when home, they just get to be like everyone else, mothers, fathers, daughters etc.

    Reply
  6. teodoragrigorie

    Team: Teodora Grigorie and Jennifer Deroche
    First of all, the blogger talks about Lady Gaga persona, and not the real person. The commentators even accuse the blogger that she cannot distinguish the person from the artist. Her tone is childish and she doesn’t have a reliable argument.
    We think Karen wrote the article for creating a scandal, giving it a controversial aspect. She knew that people will react, so she is trying to create her self-image as a person who sends her opinions in a very direct way. She is also presenting a persona, not the real self. Karen is upset because Lady Gaga is not natural, and she is using marketing to create an image. We think she is a little envy of Gaga’s way of sending her message and maybe she is a little naïve in what concerning celebrities.
    Angela (second comment), tries to explain her that there is a difference between Lady gaga the singer and Lady Gaga the person. She understood that Lady Gaga works in the showbiz, so it is just a façade for the fans. Therefore, real fans should be able to make a difference between showbiz characters and a real person. Lady Gaga is portraying someone whom her fans can emulate.
    The commentators think that Lady Gaga is very honest with her performance and she presents her personas very clearly. Even if the conversation is harsh, all three participants admit that Lady Gaga manages very well her image and her performance. Even Lady Gaga admits that she is telling a lie in order to make people discover the truth. Once again, the blogger’s biggest problem is that she can’t tell the difference between a character and a real person, and they use Julia Roberts’ hooker character as an example, to make her understand.
    Nevertheless, we think the blogger wants to make everybody think like her, because she’s acting like she needs approval.

    Reply
  7. Teodora Grigorie

    First of all, I understood how signs are used in advertising- the signifier is the sound or image presented and the signified is the element that comes in our mind. Also, I understood that the relation between signifier and signified depends on the convention, depends on the society that created the meaning. Moreover, I comprehended the difference between the story and the narrative. The former refers to the action that takes place and the latter shows the way a story is told. Last but not least, I understood the concept of moral panic – a person doesn’t like something that is too similar to him, he rejects things that describe him the best.
    Sadly, because I had to go early the day of the discussion, I didn’t understand the concept of Riviere’s masquerade, Bourdieu’s field and Goffman’s face.

    Reply
  8. Teodora Grigorie

    The team: Teodora Grigorie and Jennifer Deroche
    First of all, the blogger talks about Lady Gaga persona, and not the real person. The commentators even accuse the blogger that she cannot distinguish the person from the artist. Her tone is childish and she doesn’t have a reliable argument.
    We think Karen wrote the article for creating a scandal, giving it a controversial aspect. She knew that people will react, so she is trying to create her self-image as a person who sends her opinions in a very direct way. She is also presenting a persona, not the real self. Karen is upset because Lady Gaga is not natural, and she is using marketing to create an image. We think she is a little envy of Gaga’s way of sending her message and maybe she is a little naïve in what concerning celebrities.
    Angela (second comment), tries to explain her that there is a difference between Lady gaga the singer and Lady Gaga the person. She understood that Lady Gaga works in the showbiz, so it is just a façade for the fans. Therefore, real fans should be able to make a difference between showbiz characters and a real person. Lady Gaga is portraying someone whom her fans can emulate.
    The commentators think that Lady Gaga is very honest with her performance and she presents her personas very clearly. Even if the conversation is harsh, all three participants admit that Lady Gaga manages very well her image and her performance. Even Lady Gaga admits that she is telling a lie in order to make people discover the truth. Once again, the blogger’s biggest problem is that she can’t tell the difference between a character and a real person, and they use Julia Roberts’ hooker character as an example, to make her understand.
    Nevertheless, we think the blogger wants to make everybody think like her, because she’s acting like she needs approval.

    Reply
  9. XINLIN LI

    what I understand:
    1. “Mass produced popular text”: Culture industry made rubbish commodities in different way, like “product placement”, they showing in the film,soap opera and other aspects. The audience is a passive group, they cannot produce programme by themselves,so the large amount of information obstruct the people’s imagination and the media development.
    2.”Narrative Theory”: represent a story need make sure what we want to say and how to say. The story has essential features,we need a character or a narrator to represent and showing the main idea, rich content .we should to know the style of narration. A story has a sequence to narration,couldn’t be desultorily,because we have responsibility to let the audience understand the story.
    3.”Impression Management”: Manage impression is very important for a celebrity,no matter the brokerage company or the celebrities themselves. The frist impression is decided to star success of the foundation, if the audience could memory, like them or not, even whether them can be controversial. Like “Lady Gaga”, Lady Gaga just a role, many people believe that the pop singger is Stefani, Stefani is a woman, but when her make-up and front of camera, the woman is “Lady Gaga”. She gave audience a signal,she is different with others and let audience interested in herself, remember and argue.The main point is she is famous now,she succcessful.
    I am confuse that :”the projection of a public image can simultaneously a mount to a way of ‘being yourself'”(Tolson) Lady Gaga is a successful public image,but I think she is not to be herslfe,I cannot believe a people thinking and behavior like that.I think it is an marketing Idea.How to understand that?

    Reply
  10. Jennifer

    What I understood:
    1. Narrative therory is the telling of the story. I can make the difference between a story and a narrative. Narrative and story have two different objectif. They do not explain the same thing.
    2. The second is branding, product placement. I see this like a game between the brand and the star. The stars use the products images and vice versa. It is a contract. But, they have to be careful because their image can be also damaged by a bad communication.
    3. Last, authenticity, it’s the “being yourself”. To protect them, stars have to play a role in front of their fans. It is a self management.
    I am confused with the concept of Goffman’s face, Bourdieu’s field and Baktin’s Carnivalesque, it is not really clear for me. How can you apply these concepts to the reality?

    Reply
  11. Rehema Nakalema

    The blogger is only right about lady gaga having a multi million dollar advertising agency to create and push that image but i personally think no one can force you to be what you can not be. Even with all the money in the world,if you cant you just cant. simple. Celebrities are able to project different identities of them selves because they are performers and thats what performers do and when they have the money at their disposal its going to look authentic.Even if its not their true self and even still, their true self still has to look apealling to their audiences. Thats why the commentators to the blog post are defending lady gaga. They understand that it comes with the trade,they have to always bring something new to the table to remain appealing to their constructed audiences. I think the participants generally are attacking the celebrities because celebrities do not all have the same audience. what appeals to me wont appeal to my neighbour and thats why in order to defend lady gaga they end up criticising another celebrity to prove a point. its not just about lady gaga selling a lie to the people. Its all the celebrities. Some love them, others don’t and thats why they all have million dollar advertising agencies to sell them through creating “audience interest” images of themselves

    Reply
  12. Kelebonye Bagai

    What I understood.
    Communication as Structure First Part:
    Visual analysis involves what images represent something and they are signs. This relates to C.S. Peirce’s triadic analysis of a sign. (representamen, interpretant and the object that it refers to) That signs do not always mean by themselves, it is us who imbue them with meaning. What ever people do or signal is interpreted differently by different people. Interpretation of signs changes from person to person.
    There is also migration of meaning.
    Intertextuality is another element that I understood to mean that in communication people tend to borrow signs or concepts from other concepts to use in their own productions.
    I also understood the concept of ‘realism’ to mean the attempt to make a narrative to look real in order for people to believe it.

    Reply

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