American Idolatry

Celebrity, Commodity and Reality Television


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About the Book

The popular definition characterizes celebrity as a product of manufacture rather than merit. If fame is taken to represent the recognition of achievement, then modern celebrity, in contrast, must be based on something other than achievement, for celebrity and fame are not the same thing.
This book explores the process by which celebrity is created, using the first seven seasons of Fox Television’s American Idol as a framework for analysis of how celebrity is defined, generated, nurtured, and intensified.

About the Author(s)

Christopher E. Bell is an associate professor of media studies in the department of communication at the University of Colorado Colorado Springs, specializing in the study of the ways in which race, class and gender intersect in different forms of children’s media. He is a TED speaker, a diversity and inclusiveness consultant for Pixar Animation Studios, a 2017 David Letterman Award winning media scholar and the 2017 Denver Comic Con Popular Culture Educator of the Year.

Bibliographic Details

Christopher E. Bell

Format: softcover (6 x 9)
Pages: 232
Bibliographic Info: notes, bibliography, index
Copyright Date: 2010
pISBN: 978-0-7864-4824-1
eISBN: 978-0-7864-5553-9
Imprint: McFarland

Table of Contents

Acknowledgments      ix
Introduction: Famous for Being Famous      1

I. Ideas and Cabbages      15
II. Dude! I Met Elway!      47
III. Jay-Z Is One of Us, Only Not      73
IV. When Someone’s Down on the Floor, Kick Them      101
V. What’s a Ballsy?      115
VI. You’ve Got the X Factor      126
VII. Sugarfoot and Babyface      136
VIII. Wear the Least Amount of Clothes Possible      148
IX. Why Is She Special?      154
X. Are You Drunk?      164
XI. I Want to Break Free      173
XII. Look at This! I’m Unique!      178

Chapter Notes      201
Bibliography      207
Index      217

Book Reviews & Awards

  • “this study is a serious take on what the program and the celebrities it creates suggest about American society and culture”—Communication Booknotes Quarterly
  • “thoroughly researched and in-depth”—Scope: An Online Journal of Film and Television Studies.