No Mere Mortal? Re-materialising Michael Jackson in death
Taylor and Francis
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In the introduction to the 'Celebrity Studies' journal forum on Michael Jackson, Bennett notes that death provides an opportunity to 'pause and reflect' (2010, p231) on the meanings within a celebrity image. This paper examines the media procedure of 'pausing' and 'reflecting' on Jackson through an analysis of British newspaper coverage in the days following his death on June 25th 2009. Recalling the notion that the reporting of the death of a celebrity is 'context-specific' determined by factors such as 'the manner in which they died and the biography that precedes their death' (Redmond, Holmes, 2010, p132), an investigation into newspaper coverage highlights prevailing preoccupations with particular features of Jackson’s identity whilst alive, with reflections on recurring tropes that emerge throughout the reporting. This study also addresses the implications of an untimely death on Jackson’s media image that develops the analysis beyond the process of revisiting and reassessing Jackson into that of reconstruction and the reassembling of his celebrity identity in the immediate wake of his death. This paper therefore seeks to further the debate on approaches to Jackson’s death that initially emerged in the 'Celebrity Studies' forum, and offer, what the editors term 'a new set of entry points for exploring his cultural significance' (Redmond, Holmes, 2010, p133) that will continue to emerge within an academic context now that Jackson has died.
Vol 3, Issue 2, pp183-196, 2012
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