Sport Stars: The Cultural Politics of Sporting Celebrity

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

3

ANDRE AGASSI AND GENERATION X

Reading white masculinity in 1990s' America 1

Kyle W. Kusz


Introduction

In his examination of the meanings expressed through the "white guy" identities of Bruce Springsteen and Axl Rose, Pfeil (1995) argues that although the sweaty and writhing bodies of these two rockers (celebrities) could not seem to be more "true" or self-evident when one first looks at them (on television or in a magazine), how we come to see and make sense of their bodies/identities is a much more complex process. His study of Springsteen's and Rose's white male rock star bodies makes visible the myriad of invisible codes, conventions, and discourses (both categorical and conjunctural) which frame our popular understanding of their identities. In this chapter, I use Pfeil's critical analytical method to illuminate the codes, conventions, and discourses which implicitly organize the seemingly self-evident "true" identity of American tennis player, Andre Agassi. I contend that Agassi's celebrity is not all self-evident nor is it neatly explainable through references to his "charisma" (Dyer, 1991) or his extraordinary athletic talents on the tennis court. Instead, I argue that to properly make sense of Andre Agassi's mediated identity one must be cognizant of how it has been constituted through the meanings and logics of the Generation X discourse - a discourse about a new generation of coming-of-age Americans which was produced in the early 1990s. So, in this chapter, I will show how the meanings articulated with Agassi at any given moment have always been constituted by, and constitutive of, the codes, meanings, and logics produced in and through the Generation X discourse at that particular moment in 1990s' America.

In order to perform an analysis of the various ways in which Agassi's identity has been represented in the US popular press, I first outline the rather derogatory image of the generation of American youth produced within, what I call, the Generation X discourse. Then, I critique some of the popular and academic discussions of Generation X and briefly sketch a more critical reading of the Generation X discourse which begins to make visible the conjunctural politics through which it was produced, as well as the racial and gender politics of the discourse. In terms of the latter, my attention turns to the way in which the

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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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