This is one of the four blog sites for UCI’s Spring quarter LitJ and English 103 course, The Literature of Fashion and Celebrity. On this blog, we’ll be watching and calibrating the rising fame quotient of the hip-hop artist, songwriter, record and film producer and all-around cultural commentator Kanye West, in order to better understand how the fame machine works, and how observation, writing, and narrative are used by it, and use it. Can you be more famous than Kanye West? Can he get more famous? Does a celebrity have to keep producing news to remain culturally central? And how do the media profit from the ongoing fame production?
On our other blogs, CumberbatchWatch, The BynesWatch, and The LaBeoufWatch, we’ll be considering how the fame machine works for other kinds of celebrities. For all the blogs, we want to be thinking about how the narrative of celebrity functions for and in the wider world.
Here’s a chart from 2006 showing what the National Entertainment State looks like. (Scroll to the PDF.)
Some of the questions we want to consider as we watch Cumberbatch, West, Bynes, and LaBeouf this quarter:
How does the digital world enhance a celebrity’s standing?
Can all the coverage harm a figure or only enhance her or him, in some way?
Someone once said that there is no such thing as bad publicity — is that true?
And how does publicity differ from journalism — this is a particularly vexed question in the field of celebrity and fashion journalism, where so often the reporter is co-opted in some way by the subject.
Can a day pass without a news mention of one of these figures? Why not?
Does the celebrity’s “true” character as a human being play a part in his or her fame in any way?
Why are so many celebrities actors and musicians? What other professions seem to create celebrities?
What are the implicit narratives of our subjects’ fame stories?
Who is generating the stories about our subjects? How are they being covered?
Who is doing the most serious writing about them, if anyone? (WE are!!!)
Paparazzi: what is the significance of this phenomenon?
How does the viewer participate in the fame quotient, in the form of clicks, commenters, fan fictions, etc.?
Do celebrities matter? Is the celebrity machine a force for good in the broader world?
Kanye’s people, this is your site: You know who you are!
Go to the blog page and comment! Let’s become smart about this constant feed of facts and factoids and pointless fizz and fodder that’s coming at us all the time, every day; even our subject knows how crazy it all is, apparently (see photo above).