The Celebrity Image and Cultural Identity: Publicity Rights and the Subaltern Politics of Gender

Coombe, Rosemary J. 1992. “The Celebrity Image and Cultural Identity: Publicity Rights and the Subaltern Politics of Gender.” Discourse: Journal for Theoretical Studies in Media & Culture 14(3): 59-88.

30 Pages Posted: 11 Apr 2019

Date Written: 1992

Abstract

In a discussion of the legal construction of celebrity personas, a feminist perspective is adopted to criticize the reproduction of illicit & unauthorized identities based on publicity rights. Publicity rights, once intended to guarantee an individual's commercial interests in the use of his or her name, now extends to any commoditizable aspect of a celebrity persona, as well as to heirs & assignees. Popular cultural practices linked to the celebrity involve the unauthorized use of the persona in alternative gender identities. Examples include: the gay male subculture's camp use of female (F) stars (Madonna, Judy Garland, etc) in F impersonation routines; lesbian hermaphroditism, in which pop stars such as James Dean & Elvis Presley are refashioned to subvert gendered meanings; & the production of Star Trek fanzines by an exclusively F, subterranean network of homemaker-authors. This postmodern expression of alternative gender identities is mandated by feminist political inquiry into political construction. It is suggested that such practices are part of an evolving contemporary democracy, liberated from the gendered concepts of the Enlightenment, in which the politicosocial world is expressed in cultural dialogue & the authoring of politically notable differences.

Keywords: Applied Anthropology, Popular Culture, Persona, Psychology, Cultural Anthropology, Zines, Population Studies, Anthropology, Public Figures, Queer Culture, Arts, Human Populations, Celebrities, Social Psychology, Social Behavior, Political Science, Persons, Presentation of Self, Fan Cultures

Suggested Citation

Coombe, Rosemary J., The Celebrity Image and Cultural Identity: Publicity Rights and the Subaltern Politics of Gender (1992). Coombe, Rosemary J. 1992. “The Celebrity Image and Cultural Identity: Publicity Rights and the Subaltern Politics of Gender.” Discourse: Journal for Theoretical Studies in Media & Culture 14(3): 59-88.. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3354248

Rosemary J. Coombe (Contact Author)

York University ( email )

4700 Keele Street
Toronto, Ontario M3J 1P3
Canada

HOME PAGE: http://www.yorku.ca/rcoombe/publications.htm

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