What a girl’s gotta do: the labour of the biopolitical celebrity in austerity Britain

Kokoli, Alexandra M. ORCID: https://orcid.org/0000-0003-3730-8570 and Winter, Aaron (2015) What a girl’s gotta do: the labour of the biopolitical celebrity in austerity Britain. Women & Performance: a Journal of Feminist Theory, 25 (2) . pp. 157-174. ISSN 0740-770X [Article] (doi:10.1080/0740770X.2015.1057015)

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This article debunks the wide-spread view that young female celebrities, especially those who rise to fame through reality shows and other forms of media-orchestrated self-exposure, dodge ‘real’ work out of laziness, fatalism and a misguided sense of entitlement. Instead, we argue that becoming a celebrity in a neoliberal economy such as that of the United Kingdom, where austerity measures disproportionately disadvantage the young, women and the poor is not as irregular or exceptional a choice as previously thought, especially since the precariousness of celebrity earning power adheres to the current demands of the neoliberal economy on its workforce. What is more, becoming a celebrity involves different forms of labour that are best described as biopolitical, since such labour fully involves and consumes the human body and its capacities as a living organism. Weight gain and weight loss, pregnancy, physical transformation through plastic surgery, physical symptoms of emotional distress and even illness and death are all photographically documented and supplemented by extended textual commentary, usually with direct input from the celebrity, reinforcing and expanding on the visual content. As well as casting celebrity work as labour, we also maintain that the workings of celebrity should always be examined in the context of wider cultural and real economies.

Item Type: Article
Keywords (uncontrolled): Celebrity; austerity; reality television; affective labour; gender; class; biopolitics; neoliberalism; welfare state; tabloid press; representation.
Research Areas: A. > School of Art and Design > Visual Arts > CREATE/Feminisms cluster
Item ID: 16198
Notes on copyright: This is an Accepted Manuscript of an article published by Taylor & Francis in Women and Performance on 04/08/2015, available online: http://www.tandfonline.com/10.1080/0740770X.2015.1057015
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Depositing User: Alexandra Kokoli
Date Deposited: 21 May 2015 13:42
Last Modified: 09 Jun 2021 13:08
URI: https://eprints.mdx.ac.uk/id/eprint/16198

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