The Sweet Life: Identity, Obsession, and Celebrity Culture


Celebrities are everywhere – in our favourite shows, films, and music, our newspapers, magazines, and tabloids. They endorse the products we buy and the causes we support. Now, of course, a device that lives in our pockets helps us keep up with them in real time, creating a false sense of connection. It’s hard to ignore celebrity in our society – but then, why would we even want to?

This workshop, paired with film screenings, will get students talking about the media marketing of celebrity, the effects of celebrity culture on their lives, and our rights to privacy in the digital age. Why do we feel connected – and entitled – to people we don’t even know? What highly crafted marketing strategies play upon our most primal instincts to create a culture obsessed with status, beauty, wealth and power? Examining research within the field of psychology, parasocial relationships and celebrity culture, students will leave this workshop better understanding their own impulses and the power of media messaging.

Learning Objectives:

1.    Deconstruct the role of celebrity in North American culture and its influence on our hopes, dreams, and everyday lives, especially as it relates to young people.
2.    Analyze the ways in which entertainment news, tabloids, fashion blogs, brands, and film studios carefully craft myths of celebrity image and lifestyle.
3.    Examine how technology changes the meaning and role of celebrity in our culture, from the days before television to the real-time Twitter and Instagram feeds of today.
4.    Discuss and debate the ethics of paparazzi work as it feeds into our entitlement to 24/7 celebrity news.

[Media Literacy Workshop designed by Liz Schulze + Hayley Gauvin]