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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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