American Ideal: How American Idol Constructs Celebrity, Collective Identity, and American Discourses

Overview

American Ideal: How American Idol Constructs Celebrity, Collective Identity, and American Discourses by Amanda Scheiner McClain provides an insightful analysis of the popular television show American Idol and explores contemporary notions of celebrity, American collective identity, and other American themes. American Idol depicts how a new star is constructed, supports American ideals such as individualism and archetypes, and reinforces an idealized American identity through verbal and visual discourse. The ...
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Overview

American Ideal: How American Idol Constructs Celebrity, Collective Identity, and American Discourses by Amanda Scheiner McClain provides an insightful analysis of the popular television show American Idol and explores contemporary notions of celebrity, American collective identity, and other American themes. American Idol depicts how a new star is constructed, supports American ideals such as individualism and archetypes, and reinforces an idealized American identity through verbal and visual discourse. The monstrous popularity of American Idol demands study of the program and the ideals contained within. This book consists of discourse analyses of the first seven seasons of the program, contextual press coverage, and of the official message boards. By amalgamating this research, it becomes clear that American Idol presents an idealistic vision of American life, where everyone is equal, democracy chooses the right winner, power is shared, and celebrity and success can be attained simply by "being yourself." In American Idol's rendering of America, racism, homophobia, xenophobia, and sexism do not exist. This idealized America consists of perfected extant ideological systems and apparatus. Through American Idol's American themes, representations of celebrity, and facilitation of collective identities, the show provides an idealized version of American culture. These idealized versions of America, national identity, and celebrity support contemporary economic and cultural norms: capitalistic ideology and concomitant materialism, beauty, race, gender, and sexuality standards, and ostensible equality epitomized by possibility for success. This book is an indispensable reference for not only scholars, undergraduate and graduate students, but anyone with an interest in American Idol and popular culture.
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Editorial Reviews

Studies in American Culture
This very well-researched, documented, and appropriately theory driven book is remarkable for its clarity.... For a reader who has never seen the show, I found this account of American Idol singularly engaging. I may now even turn it on.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780739164334
  • Publisher: Lexington Books
  • Publication date: 11/3/2011
  • Pages: 264
  • Product dimensions: 6.20 (w) x 9.10 (h) x 0.90 (d)

Meet the Author

Amanda Scheiner McClain is assistant professor of communications at Holy Family University in Pennsylvania.
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Table of Contents

Chapter 1. American Idol Chapter 2. Overview of Theory and Methods Chapter 3. Rags to Riches and the Discourse of Dreams Chapter 4. Contestant Archetypes Chapter 5. Narratives of Authenticity Chapter 6. Narratives of Transformation to Celebrity Chapter 7. Show Discourse and Collective Identity Chapter 8. Collective Identities on the American Idol Message Boards Chapter 9. American Idol Press Coverage: 2002 and 2008 Chapter 10. Conclusion
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