'Why James Reid is Better Than I': A Critical Discourse Analysis of the Celebrity Image as a Text and Commodity

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Mozo, M. S. (2019). ‘Why James Reid is better than I’: A critical discourse analysis of the celebrity image as a text and commodity, Unpublished Undergraduate Thesis, University of the Philippines College of Mass Communication.

The discourse of the celebrity emerged from knowledge on the celebrity’s onscreen and off-screen lives. This research situates the mainstream celebrity image in the context of its relationship with social expectations, particularly in the discursive construction of attractiveness through the celebrity image. Anchored on Fairclough’s critical discourse analysis, this celebrity research overlaps textual, processing, and social analyses of Filipino-Australian actor James Reid’s celebrity image in examining the constitutive relationship between the celebrity image and Filipino values in defining attractiveness as a form of status and privilege.

I utilize the concept of intersectionality in an intertextual analysis of the celebrity image – interpreting consistent characterizations between the physical, socioeconomic, and interpersonal aspects of Reid’s portrayals. Dually constructed as an aspirational, colonial “status symbol” and a normative, Kapwa-oriented “Filipinized foreigner” through textual mechanisms that realign the celebrity’s onscreen and off-screen images with society’s dominant values, I argue that the celebrity image is a manufactured identity – a commodity – which is constructed by the media to reinforce values beneficial to its profit-oriented endeavors. From this consistency between text and society, the celebrity image takes part in the deliberate, discursive construction of attractiveness as a form of status – the “Artistahin” – in order to sustain itself within a capitalist system.

This study ultimately addresses the systemic and discursive origins of expectations on identity which have been individualized within a capitalist and colonial society in order to mask the different ways by which we are stratified and qualified through the media, especially through the celebrity image.

Keywords: celebrity, celebrity image, discourse, identity, intersectionality

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