The Persona as Form

The always insightful Mike B. of Clap Clap had a thought-provoking post last week about the status of celebrity gossip and the creation of public personae in our culture. One of the major points that he makes is that, though we tend to be ashamed when we read about the starts’ exploits, celebrities have become a form of entertainment in themselves, distinct from (though not always unrelated to) the media that initially made them famous. I would like to ask the question that we here at the Foundation always ask: can a celebrity persona be art? The creation of a unique persona is practically a prerequisity of a star’s rise to prominence, and it is often done with intent, be it by the celebrity him- or herself, or by a publicity agent, and, as Mike B. observes, it takes a narrative form quite similar to that of characterization in fiction.

One difference that Mike B. notes is that celebrity personae gain a special social meaning because of their general exposure. In a follow-up, he responds to the example of Bob Dylan’s carefully constructed public image. I would make a claim that Dylan’s persona is a work of art, but Mike B. observes that, though Dylan is well-known as a musician, the details of his character are mainly of interest to his fans, and don’t have the sort of cultural currency that facts about, to use Mike’s example, Brittney Spears do. Perhaps this means that Dylan’s is not really a celebrity persona – but couldn’t a celebrity persona equally well be a work of art?


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