Celebrity Polysemy: The many faces of ‘Miley Cyrus’
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The image of a star or celebrity is often based directly in comparison with their screenrole. The on screen role is often taken as revealing the real life personality. This dissertation looks at the complex identity issues surrounding teenage superstar Miley Cyrus and her association with the character Hannah Montana. All aspects of Cyrus’ character and image are textually analysed, proving that her conflicting identities, whether her performances as Hannah Montana or her real life depiction through media outlets, are perceived as revealing some form of Cyrus’ real off screen life. This dissertation argues that Disney presents a dominant ideology through Hannah Montana in order to influence young children in a certain way. Hannah Montana presents an apparent carbon copy of Cyrus’ real life, even casting her real life father as her character’s father on screen. Similarly, Cyrus’ negative portrayal at the hands of the mass media is also perceived to be the real life of the celebrity in question when, in fact, she is presented in such a manner as to provoke a specific reaction from its audience. Even autobiographical accounts of Cyrus’ personal life cannot directly reveal her off screen personality as they may have been or presented in a specific way. By analysing from Marxist, semiotic, and post-structuralist perspectives Miley Cyrus’ many conflicting images are all revealed to be specific characters who are created by different cultural intermediaries in order to illicit a specific response from different audience members. Evidence suggests that the focus on negative aspects of Cyrus’ private life is blown out of proportion due to the fact that Hannah Montana presents an absolute perfect way in which to look and behave. The media present an antithesis of Hannah Montana and whilst both are intended to reveal Miley Cyrus’ real life, they are both fictitious to a certain extent, emphasising her polysemic image.
BA (Hons) English and Popular Culture
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