We are watching

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 fame quotient of the mid-ranked actor Shia LaBeouf in order to better understand how the fame machine works, and how observation, writing, and narrative are used by it, and use it. How does a young star manipulate the fame machine to up his ante in the public eye? Does a celebrity have to keep producing news to remain in the public eye? And how do the media profit from the ongoing fame production?


On our other blogs, CumberbatchWatch, WestWatch, and The BynesWatch, 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?

Screen Shot 2014-04-02 at 12.13.34 PM
Everyday, more news. What’s news, when it’s about an actor? What’s an actor, after all? One answer: a puppet saying someone else’s words… other answers?

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? 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?

"I am not famous anymore" -- oh, yes, you are!

“I am not famous anymore” — oh, yes, you are!

How does the viewer participate in the fame quotient, in the form of clicks, commentating, fan fictions, etc.?

Do celebrities matter? Is the celebrity machine a force for good in the culture, in the broader world?

LaBeouf watchers, 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).

1 thought on “We are watching

  1. I see a pattern here, and that is that Shia tends to be compared to other actors. Do we need to compare him to his fellow actors who are doing better? I’m pretty sure he knows that he is not doing as well. Maybe that is why he chooses to act out? And another note, how do we know this story is true? And why else would this story surface now other than Shia being a hot topic. Shia attracts attention, whether good or bad, he takes it. His name garners just as much attention as other celebrities in the media, maybe even more because we’re interested in what he’ll do next. We still have this hope that Shia will recover and return to being the actor he once was. He hasn’t completely burned out, because if he did, we wouldn’t be as interested.

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