Celebrity, politics, and new media: An essay on the implications of pandemic fame and persona

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12 Citations (Scopus)


Celebrity articulates a very particular form of public identity that more or less is linked to the extensions of the self beyond one’s primary activity and into the complex dimensions of publicity, fame, and into a wider, and by its very definition, popular culture. Celebrity’s relationship to another form of public identity—the politician/political leader—is conceptually and practically connected by their shared relationship to the popular and its articulation through the various mediated forms of popular culture. This connection to popular culture is one of the ways in which power is legitimized as the politician or celebrity is authenticated by their capacity to embody the citizenry in one sphere and the audience in another. This paper argues that there has been a significant transformation in our constitution of fame in the contemporary moment that has fundamentally shifted this fame/politics nexus. The key element of this shift is the way in which digital media has reconfigured our political-popular cultural landscape. It is argued that via the communicative structures of social media and its avenues of sharing and connecting, there has developed a pandemic will-to-public identity by the billions of users of online culture—what is identified as pandemic persona—that resembles the patterns with which celebrity and politicians have operated over the previous century. Pandemic persona has produced a new instability in the organization of contemporary politics as this new public intermediary insinuates itself in unpredictable ways into the way that the process of representation in both popular and political culture manifests itself in what could be seen as legacy media and legacy formations of political institutions and practices.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)89-104
Number of pages16
JournalInternational Journal of Politics, Culture, and Society
Early online date03 Jan 2019
Publication statusPublished - Mar 2020


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