Princess Diana, Jackie O, Grace Kelly-the star icon is the most
talked about yet least understood persona. The object of adoration,
fantasy, and cult obsession, the star icon is a celebrity, yet she
is also something more: a dazzling figure at the center of a media
pantomime that is at once voyeuristic and zealously guarded. With
skill and humor, Daniel Herwitz pokes at the gears of the
celebrity-making machine, recruiting a philosopher's interest in
the media, an eye for society, and a love of popular culture to
divine our yearning for these iconic figures and the role they play
in our lives.
Herwitz portrays the star icon as caught between transcendence
and trauma. An effervescent being living on a distant, exalted
planet, the star icon is also a melodramatic heroine desperate to
escape her life and the ever-watchful eye of the media. The public
buoys her up and then eagerly watches her fall, her collapse
providing a satisfying conclusion to a story sensationally
told-while leaving the public yearning for a rebirth.
Herwitz locates this double life in the opposing tensions of
film, television, religion, and consumer culture, offering fresh
perspectives on these subjects while ingeniously mapping society's
creation (and destruction) of these special aesthetic stars.
Herwitz has a soft spot for popular culture yet remains deeply
skeptical of public illusion. He worries that the media distances
us from even minimal insight into those who are transfigured into
star icons. It also blinds us to the shaping of our political
Subjects: Sociology, Technology, Film Studies
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