More than any other form of media, reality television has reignited interest in celebrity discourse because of the genre’s incorporation of ordinary people and the conflation of ordinariness with raw, real emotion. This article argues that reality TV is part of an emerging “emotion economy” that generates unique forms of celebrity by producing and circulating heightened emotional performances as “branded affect.” A key signifier of what reality TV is and is becoming, branded affect underscores the commodification of emotion in the contemporary media landscape and the changing nature and meaning of celebrity.
Reality Celebrity: Branded Affect and the Emotion Economy
Laura Grindstaff is a professor of sociology at the University of California, Davis. She is the author of the award-winning The Money Shot: Trash, Class, and the Making of TV Talk Shows (2002) as well as numerous articles and essays on media and popular culture. She is coeditor of the Handbook of Cultural Sociology (2010, 2012).
Susan Murray is an associate professor of media, culture, and communication at New York University. She is the author of Hitch Your Antenna to the Stars! Early Television and Broadcast Stardom (2005) and the coeditor, with Laurie Ouellette, of two editions of Reality TV: Remaking Television Culture (2004, 2009). She is currently writing a history of color television (1929–70).
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Laura Grindstaff, Susan Murray; Reality Celebrity: Branded Affect and the Emotion Economy. Public Culture 1 January 2015; 27 (1 (75)): 109–135. doi: https://doi.org/10.1215/08992363-2798367
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