Living with fame: Geri and Living with Michael Jackson

Goode, I. (2008) Living with fame: Geri and Living with Michael Jackson. Social Semiotics, 18(2), pp. 177-190. (doi: 10.1080/10350330802002234)

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This article will examine two recent and contrasting British television documentaries about particular stars/celebrities from the world of popular music - Geri (Channel 4, 1999) and Living with Michael Jackson (ITV, 2003). Geri comes from the British documentary film-maker/auteur Molly Dineen's journey with Geri Halliwell shortly after she had left the group The Spice Girls, and Living with Michael Jackson features the journalist/reporter Martin Bashir's encounter with the former member of the Jackson Five. These documentary encounters can be contrasted in terms of their form and institutional context of production and through the similarity to and difference from reality television formats. Dineen and Bashir share a fascination with trying to make sense of the process of fame and celebrity through the privileged private access they are given to the high-profile individuals who have agreed to be their subjects. In each case what is revealed is as much a reflection of the disposition of the filmmaker reporter/mediator towards celebrity and fame as it is a revelation on the process of fame and celebrity. What emerges from each of the interactions is a struggle between Dineen and Bashir and their subjects. The stars are both concerned with the process of negotiating change and adversity in the overlap between their private lives and the public image they endeavour to manage and project. These two documentaries represent two editions of the outcome of this meeting. Together they illustrate, rather than offer an understanding of, how television feeds on the public fascination with celebrity and the destructive and even murderous nature of our relation to celebrity suggested by Jacqueline Rose in the wake of the death of Diana.

Item Type:Articles
Keywords:Documentary, postdocumentary, reality television, celebrity, star, fame, confession, interaction, witness, judgement, ethics, parasocial, hermeneutic, shame
Glasgow Author(s) Enlighten ID:Goode, Dr Ian
Authors: Goode, I.
Subjects:P Language and Literature > PN Literature (General) > PN1990 Broadcasting
College/School:College of Arts & Humanities > School of Culture and Creative Arts > Theatre Film and TV Studies
Journal Name:Social Semiotics
ISSN (Online):1470-1219

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