Sport Stars: The Cultural Politics of Sporting Celebrity

By David L. Andrews; Steven J. Jackson | Go to book overview

1

INTRODUCTION

Sport celebrities, public culture, and private experience

David L. Andrews and Steven J. Jackson

To speak of a culture of celebrity nowadays is nearly to commit a redundancy.

(Gitlin, 1998, p. 81)

Stars represent typical ways of behaving, feeling and thinking in contemporary society, ways that have been socially, culturally, historically constructed.

(Dyer, 1986, p. 18)

Its drama, its personalities and its worldwide appeal mean sport is the new Hollywood.

(Bell and Campbell, 1999, p. 22)

Raymond Williams' invaluable glossary of cultural terms Keywords: A Vocabulary of Culture and Society, although compiled as recently as 1976, does not include a definition of the word "celebrity". Such an omission would be unthinkable had Williams been writing now - at the beginning of the twenty-first century, since celebrity has become a primary product and process underpinning what David Rowe has termed late capitalism's "culturalization of economics" (1999, p. 70).

According to Marshall (1997), the contemporary celebrity is an embodiment of the twinned discourses of late modernity: neo-liberal democracy and consumer capitalism. Indeed, Western liberal democracy represents a political system preoccupied with "the personal, the intimate, and the individual" (ibid., p. xiii); incorporates an equally solipsistic regime of economic (re)production (consumer capitalism); both of which are nurtured by the supreme technology of hyper-individualization (commercial television).

From the outpourings of the commercial media, whom Braudy (1997, p. 550) refers to as the "arbiters of celebrity," we are, at least superficially, privy to a wealth of information that encourages us to develop a sense of familiarity, intrigue, and sometimes obsession with celebrity figures. While the celebrity is usually a complete stranger, and someone we are never likely to meet, nor ever truly know, the virtual intimacy created between celebrity and audience often

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Sport Stars: The Cultural Politics of Sporting Celebrity
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents v
  • 1 - Introduction 1
  • Bibliography 17
  • 1 - Michael Jordan 20
  • Bibliography 34
  • 2 - Excursions into Otherness 36
  • Notes 48
  • Bibliography 49
  • 3 - Andre Agassi and Generation X 51
  • Bibliography 68
  • 4 - America's New Son 70
  • 5 - From "Child's Play" to "Party Crasher" 87
  • Bibliography 99
  • 6 - Postmodern Blackness and the Celebrity Sports Star 102
  • 7 - Evil Genie or Pure Genius? 124
  • Notes 136
  • 8 - Punishment, Redemption and Celebration in the Popular Press 138
  • 9 - The Spectacle of a Heroic Life 151
  • 10 - Gretzky Nation 164
  • 11 - Hideo Nomo 187
  • 12 - Global Hingis 201
  • 13 - Nyandika Maiyoro and Kipchoge Keino 218
  • 14 - Imran Khan 231
  • 15 - Brian Lara 243
  • Notes 255
  • 16 - Cathy Freeman 257
  • Index 271
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