Celebrity and the Para-Confession

Barry King
Centre for Performance Studies, Auckland University of Technology, Australia

Ladda ner artikelhttp://www.ep.liu.se/ecp_article/index.en.aspx?issue=025;article=032

Ingår i: Inter: A European Cultural Studies : Conference in Sweden 11-13 June 2007

Linköping Electronic Conference Proceedings 25:32, s. 301-310

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Publicerad: 2007-11-27


ISSN: 1650-3686 (tryckt), 1650-3740 (online)


In this paper I situate the dynamics of the Talk show in the historical context of the development of the religious ritual of confession and its vernacular development in the mass media.

In Foucault’s genealogical account; the 19th century development of psychiatry fused the religious institution of the confession with a scientific discourse in order to create a confession regulated theory of human sexuality. Foucault identifies a number of ways in which this fusion was effected. Through development of new methods and techniques that postulate sexuality as the primary cause human behaviour. Foucault’s work has cited in support of the pervasiveness of a therapeutic culture on Television. I argue instead that is necessary to recognize that there are demotic and celebrity forms of confession. The Celebrity talk show; unlike its more demotic variants; represents a controlled process of revelation which is designed to display the celebrity’s persona from a position of authority in relation to the host (as an professional equal) and the audience (live and mediated) as an admiring mass.

The paper concludes with a brief analysis of the Tom Cruise- Oprah Winfrey May 2005 interview as an example of the pragmatics of the celebrity para-confession.


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