David Chaney (2001) argues that access to lifestyle templates are available primarily through multiple media channels, where lifestyle is an example of a new “social form” based on specific patterns of consumer choice. This article examines a very particular kind of “celebrity.” It is concerned with how television, print, and advertising contribute to the construction of media stars whose function is to transfer knowledge of particular lifestyles to the lived experience of ordinary people. It looks at systems that direct the flow of such information and why the proliferation of this new breed of expert arises out of a particular set of historic conditions, namely the rise of and recent challenges to neo-liberalism. Specifically, it explores the role of the celebrity expert as cultural intermediary at a time when objective and subjective class positions do not necessarily coincide. The social anxieties that arise as a con sequence sees the domination of the market as an economic and cultural space in which such anxieties are increasingly played out. This allows questions to be posed that consider the proliferation of the celebrity expert, their role as tastemakers in contemporary culture and how viewers appropriate, or not, the particular lifestyles that are communicated across popular media forms.
“As Seen on Tv.” The Celebrity Expert: How Taste Is Shaped by Lifestyle Media
HELEN POWELL HAS PREVIOUSLY WORKED IN THE ADVERTISING INDUSTRY AND IS NOW SENIOR LECTURER AND PROGRAM LEADER IN ADVERTISING AT THE UNIVERSITY OF EAST LONDON. HER RESEARCH INTERESTS AND PUBLICATIONS EXPLORE THE ROLE OF CULTURAL INTERMEDIARIES, INCLUDING CELEBRITIES, AS INFORMERS OF CONSUMER CHOICE AND BRAND SELECTION. HER LATEST PUBLICATION IS AS LEAD EDITOR AND CONTRIBUTOR TO THE ADVERTISING HANDBOOK (ROUTLEDGE, 2009).
SYLVIE PRASAD IS A SENIOR LECTURER IN MEDIA AND CULTURAL STUDIES AT THE UNIVERSITY OF EAST LONDON AND LEADER IN MEDIA PRACTICE. RESEARCH INTERESTS AND PUBLICATIONS INCLUDE LIFESTYLE TELEVISION, THE CELEBRITY EXPERT, AND MOBILE PHONE CULTURE. HER PRACTICE WORK IN PHOTOGRAPHY AND THE MOVING IMAGE HAS BEEN EXHIBITED WIDELY.