It’s a rainy day, so rather than shoot Kelly Clarkson on Regis & Kelly I delved into understanding the psychological meaning behind the artist-fan relationship. Google delivered a worthy result: American Heroes in a Media Age by Susan J. Drucker and Robert S. Cathcart. The working theory of this book suggests the notion that mass media itself has given birth to a late 20th and early 21st Century phenomenon; namely, anyone can become a social artifact aka celebrity when subjected to mass media packaging.
“The responses obtained in this investigation indicate that personal characteristics of celebrities rather than public deeds are related to their elevated status. Identification with the looks and personal characteristics that media publicity celebrates removes the celebrity from the hallowed pedestal of the hero.” (Drucker, Cathcart, 1994)
The dark side of this theory is that corporations today fulfill our psychological and emotional needs by offering up media packages (TV shows, movies, merchandise) that nurture a lifelong emotional attachment that replace human interaction with simulated relationships to fictional characters…which, unfortunately for the actors playing these roles winds up turning THEIR personal lives into fodder for fan consumption as well. The fictional character mysteriously transmogrifies into the real life of the actor whereby the line separating the two disappears in the blink of a tabloid eye.
“The hero may well be he or she whom every American should wish to be, but the celebrity is he or she whom every American can be” (Wecter, 1941).
So where does that leaves an actor like Robert Pattinson? I guess fighting for his personal life in the trenches of his onscreen fictional characters. Is it possible for him to maintain the line between his public and private lives once a fan has become emotionally attached to his fictional personality? Nope.
American Heroes in a Media Age
Starstruck: When A Fan Gets Close to Fame by Michael Joseph Gross