Bayam.2007.MTVs Coverage of the 2004 Presidential Election

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Unformatted text preview: es are crafted behind the scenes by a team of producers, Aguilera’s work looks like much contemporary television journalism. Of course the point remains, though, that she’s a pop singer and only playing a journalist on television. In place of journalistic credentials, the authorizing vehicle is Aguilera’s celebrity. Although mainstream journalism has fought against celebrities assuming reportorial functions (Bishop, 2004), the lines between celebrity and journalist have grown deeply blurred. Able to command the credibility of parasocial familiarity, the celebrated individual largely has eclipsed the institutional agent as social authority in an increasingly personalized public domain (Corner and Pels, 2003). In an age of discursive integration, celebrity credibility has become a fluid asset, no longer limited to the domain of entertainment, but now translatable to the spheres of journalism and politics. Thus Marshall (1997, p. 19) argues that ‘the categorical distinction of forms of power is dissolving in favor of a unified system of celebrity status.’’ Downloaded By: [Ohio State University Libraries] At: 01:44 26 September 2007 JOURNALISTIC AUTHORITY ON MTV MTV, however, offers a different explanation of Aguilera’s credentials. On the TRL show, host John Norris previews her program, saying: ‘‘Christina Aguilera, who I think you would have to agree knows a little something about sex, right? So it only makes sense that Christina would host our next Choose or Lose special.’’ For MTV Aguilera’s explicitly gendered and highly sexualized celebrity persona carves out a specific domain within which she is authorized to function as a journalist. Pels (2003, p. 58) suggests that the privileging of celebrity authority in politics represents ‘‘a leveling of the epistemological hierarchy.’’ Because she knows a little something about sex, Aguilera becomes a new kind of expert, one for whom personal knowledge gained through lived experience translates into expertise. Set in Aguilera’s hometown of Pittsburgh, the program is grounded in her lived experience. As Norris notes, ‘‘she went back to her hometown . . . to talk with young people.’’ During the show, Aguilera...
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