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[ecrea] Call for Book Chapters on Celebrity and Politics in Asia

Wed Jul 15 03:11:54 GMT 2015

Please find below a call for book chapters on Celebrity and Politics in

*Book Working Title:Â *

Celebrity and Politics in Asia: Construction, Crossover and Consumption

*Book Description:*

/Politics is just like show business. /Â (Ronald Reagan, quoted in
Postman 1987, 128)

The entertainment industry in Asia has grown rapidly in the past decades
and with it, a celebrity culture. Trends in urbanization and
consumerism, along with the rise of information communication
technologies, have made it possible to mechanically reproduce and
disseminate images, sound and information across media platforms (in
print, radio, television, cinema and the Internet). As a result, in
East, South and Southeast Asia, celebrities have emerged. They obtain
wealth, honor and prestige in exchange for providing a sense of intimacy
with mass audiences. They come from different fields – film, radio,
television, online, music, sports, journalism, business, education, and
politics, to name the more common ones. They tantalize with their
performances and plotlines, which are sustained through constant
publicity and the adoration of fans.

Gabler (undated) describes a celebrity as “a person who, by the very
process of living, provided entertainment for us.” In other words,
celebrities live out narratives that capture the imagination and
interest of the media and the mass audiences. Allowing them in the end,
as Marshall (1997) contends, to “enjoy a greater presence and wider
scope of activity and agency than are those who make up the rest of the
population. They are allowed to move on the public stage while the rest
of us watch.”

In Asia, as in the West, the narratives of some celebrities have
embraced politics. Such movement has been observed in many ways, three
of which are of interest to this book anthology. First, celebrities
have taken on socio-political causes such as wildlife conservation,
human trafficking, world peace, etc. Second, celebrities have become
third party endorsers of politicians seeking public office. Third,
celebrities have run and taken public office themselves as presidents,
senators, parliamentarians, governors, mayors, etc.  Â

Media scholars and political commentators have varied reactions to the
phenomenon of celebrities expanding into politics. Some such as West
(2007) and Jacinto (2015) have welcomed such development citing that
celebrities expand the range of ideas in the national dialogue. Being
unbound by political constraints, celebrities are seen as credible and
citizens feel more engaged in the process. Others such as Turner (2013)
and Vitug (2004) warned that celebrities bring about superficiality and
less substance in the political process. Having too many celebrities in
public office imperils democracy as politics becomes mere entertainment
and society loses its ability to solve important problems.Â

At any rate, the trend of celebrities entering into the political arena
is deemed to continue due to the following reasons:

·        Voters have become skeptical of politicians.Â

·        Celebrities help in generating interest on boring
political topics.

·        Merger of celebrity and politics in Asian societies.Â

·        Elections have become popularity contests.

In the past, celebrities entering the political arena were novelties.Â
The political elite scoffed at them; dismissing them as one-night
wonders. But, that changed when celebrities from film, journalism,
business and sports began to successfully corner political power. These
celebrities have embedded themselves in the collective consciousness to
the extent they are spoken of as family members, close friends or
imagined lovers. Even without credentials, experience or money,
celebrities run for political office as they rely on the currency of
fame. The magic of celebrity can be transmitted faster and cheaper by
the media to vote-rich urban centers. Elections are no longer fought on
the ground; they are fought in the airwaves. With instant name
recognition and a personality-oriented political environment,
celebrities have an inherent advantage over their more traditional
rivals. Elections in Asia have become popularity contests that need to
produce high entertainment value.Â

 Yet, as Gabler (undated) puts it, “like any work of art, celebrity
is the product of a process.” The celebrity is a performer in whatever
field with a personal real-life narrative or plotline. In case of this
book, the narrative needs to include a movement towards politics either
as an advocate of socio-political causes, endorser of a political
candidate and/or hopeful for a public office. Having these, the
narrative needs to be reproduced and distributed over the various media
platforms until these get consumed by the multitudes of fans. This
brings us to the core themes of the book, which is divided into three
parts: construction, crossover and consumption.

·        Construction.

The first part of the book begins with an overview chapter about the
media ecology in Asia and how it builds celebrity plotlines. In many
ways, the media construct and attached narratives to celebrities. The
narratives may be personal in nature but then also on identity politics
and socio-political issues. The succeeding chapters deal with specific
celebrities in various Asian countries. Together, the first part of the
book tries to explore important questions. What is the nature of media
that paves the way for celebrities to engage audiences in a very
personal manner? What plotlines have the media constructed that deal
with identity politics and socio-political issues? What plotlines have
infused celebrities with a persona to deal in politics (a field they do
not have any credential or experience about)? What is the role of
social media in reproducing and distributing celebrity narratives
relating to politics?

·        Crossover.

The second part of the book presents cases of celebrities who have
crossed over into politics. It delves more into the personal lives of
the celebrities; looking into their rise, transitions, turning points
and crossing over towards politics. This may be witnessed from the
simple writing about politics in social media to taking on serious
socio-political causes; from endorsing political candidates to running
for public office themselves. Together, the second part tries to answer
some questions: What are the celebrities’ perceptions of politics and
of themselves? Why do celebrities take to politics effortlessly? What
are their motivations for moving into politics? What risks and/or gains
were assessed by the celebrities before crossing over towards politics?Â

·        Consumption.

The third part of the book explores the reception of the celebrities’
crossing over into politics. It looks into the change in the
celebrities’ narrative and whether this change is acceptable to the
public. The reception may be seen in people’s opinions on certain
socio-political issues and on political candidates whether celebrity
endorsements mattered. It may also be observed in the success or
failures of celebrities in their quest for public office, including what
happens to celebrities who failed in politics. Likewise, it may be
shown in public reaction to celebrities getting involved in protest
movement – whether it affects their original careers. Together, the
third part of the book looks into these questions: What is the
socio-political background of people who love or hate celebrities
entering into politics? What is the spectatorship of political messages
delivered by these celebrities? Why are celebrities elected as
government officials? When celebrities criticize the decision of the
government, does their voice have any democratic legitimacy? Do people
really care who celebrities endorse? Has Asian culture become so
entrenched in the aura of celebrity that the masses rely on their
opinions to speak their voice?Â

We are looking for contributions from scholars from the following
countries: India, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, Malaysia, Indonesia, Hongkong,
China, Japan, Taiwan and Korea.

Editors: Prof. Brian Shoesmith, Prof. Jude William Genilo and Associate
Professor Sumon Rahman (University of Liberal Arts Bangladesh)

Manuscript Length:Â  5,000 to 9,000 words

Important Dates:Â  Abstract Submissions (August 15), Notification of
Acceptance (August 30), Full Chapter Submission (November 30)



| ULAB |

Jude William Genilo, PhD Â
Professor and Head | Media Studies and Journalism Department
University of Liberal Arts Bangladesh (ULAB)

e:Â (jude.genilo /at/ <mailto:(jude.genilo /at/> |Â w:Â <>Â

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