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

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

by Amanda S. McClain
     
 

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,

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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.

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780739164334
Publisher:
Lexington Books
Publication date:
11/03/2011
Pages:
264
Product dimensions:
6.20(w) x 9.10(h) x 0.90(d)
Age Range:
18 Years

What People are saying about this

From the Publisher
American Ideal is a compelling account of how our understandings of authenticity, publicity, and celebrity evolve through media. Reality television becomes a vehicle for telling stories about who we are and what we aspire to be, and American Idol epitomizes these narratives. Amanda McClain does a superb job of analyzing both the promise and the illusion of reality TV.—Zizi Papacharissi, University of Illinois-Chicago

McClain's American Ideal is the most comprehensive analysis we have of the American Idol phenomenon, and sheds light over issues of celebrity, identity, and nationalism in the contemporary United States. An edifying read.—Marwan Kraidy, University of Pennsylvania

Meet the Author

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

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