The power of celebrities: past experiences, current status, and a friendly encounter as key components to transform young individuals in It Gets Better

Sandra Wagemakers, Frederik Dhaenens

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review

1 Citation (Scopus)
94 Downloads (Pure)

Abstract

Makeover television is generally interested in transforming individuals. Often these programmes alter participants on an individual basis, ignore structural problems, and enforce normative ideas of the good citizen. An important role is preserved for celebrities, considered able to help these individuals by performing the role of expert. This article aims to demonstrate how celebrities are legitimised with the power to transform young individuals in a television programme. Specifically, the article inquires how celebrities are represented as key actors in the process of transforming young individuals within a Dutch context in which ordinariness is promoted. To this end, a textual analysis is conducted of the Dutch programme It Gets Better. This article reveals how the programme constructs celebrities as the only way to solve the participants’ problems. On the one hand, they are able to connect with audiences and participants because their ordinariness eases identification and access. The programme particularly emphasises the ordinariness of Dutch celebrities while connecting it to their personal experiences with the issue at stake in the past. On the other hand, their extraordinary status in society gives them authority. The articulation of the celebrity status to personal experiences is pivotal for the transformation to take place. The critical moment of change is when celebrities deliver their messages to the individuals personally and act as a friend; consequently, individuals feel honoured to interact with them and take celebrities’ messages seriously.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)568-582
Number of pages14
JournalCelebrity Studies
Volume6
Issue number4
Early online date1 Apr 2015
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2015

Keywords

  • celebrity
  • power
  • transform
  • make-over programme
  • television

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