essay: to what extent does a pop stars image influence their audience?

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  • 1. To what extent does a pop stars image influence their audience? In society, a pop stars image can influence their audience in various ways. This idea could be down to the fact that the term pop star and pop performer have become compatible and the division between the two is not recognised. A reason for this is because pop performers are quickly promoted to a pop star status by their management; resulting in them being described as pop stars. However, according to the Star Theory studies of stars has shown that there should be a difference between someone who performs pop music (but isnt necessarily famous) and someone whose image is constructed to an audience whilsthaving an identity/persona that hasnt much relationship to their musicianship. Thistheory was made by Richard Dyer who suggested a stars construction takes severalforms: construction process, commodity and ideology.His book Stars written in 1979 explains the idea of the way in which the perception of astar can be greatly influenced in the observation of a film. This followed by publicitymaterials and reviews, results in the way audiences overall experience a film. With thisin account, it is clear that a film will never really be summarised by thestoryline but more the stars within it.Despite stars being represented as real people whoexperience real emotions, they are built up to be artificialimages by their management and some times, the way theyare presented in the media. The media is a large source ofadvertisement as it consists of magazines, TV, radio,billboards and most importantly the internet which is howpeople become internationally known. One example of thisis YouTube a video sharing website whereby music artistsvideo can be seen by a wide audience around the worldthrough users uploading, viewing and sharing their videos.In order, to make the star different they tend to also have aunique selling point for example, Justin Biebers hairstyle,Lady Gagas range of headpieces and Madonnas conical bra from the 1990s. TheseUPS dont go unrecognised by the audience and immediately are copied in some way,making their assembled image consistent over a period of time by fans, compared tofilm stars who are reliant on the input of others.Dyer explains this through his quote:A star is an image not a real person that is constructed (as any other aspect offiction is) out of a range of materials (e.g. advertising, magazines etc as well as films[music])
  • 2. Pop stars are the product of their record company whose purpose is to be sold. This iswhy they are manufactured by the music industry so that people can respond to variouselements of their star persona by becoming fans and buying records. This is why it isvery important for companies to nurture and nature their pop stars persona throughouttheir career to ensure they make money.Nonetheless, whole markets of audiences arent always convinced by what record labelsoffer so dont choose to spend their money on this star persona record companies tryto create. As they want something different, record labels have to try and cater forthese different audiences as they are not a custom to popular music. This is calledmirror branding. An example of this is Carrie Underwood and Usher who both are a partof the same record company (Sony Records) but produce different types of music.This process consists of the record company listening to the demands of the audience inorder to construct stars that will attract the tastes and preferences of various differentaudiences. For example, Metallica is constructed to appeal to both males and femaleswho are likely to be punks, rockers and are down to earth. Whereas, someone like NickiMinaj is constructed to appeal to the typical girlie girl who focuses on their appearanceand fashion. This is calledIn all, we call this having an array of commodities which industries constantly provideus with to appeal to a wide range of people. Commodities consist of genres,personalities and looks to name a few that will vary in every star. As a result, with everystar, theres an audience who would become fans and be influenced by them throughone or a few of their characteristics. In terms of ideology and culture, the image of pop stars is seen as actors and actresses because they are constantly changing to match ideologies of the time. This is why whether negative or positive, publicity of pop stars are viewed as significant for the reason that it enables them to remain in the public eye. An example of this is Chris Brown who was involved in a domestic violence case with ex-girlfriend Rihanna in February 2009. This has a major effect on his careeras he was charged with felony assault and making criminal threats. Despite of this, inSeptember 2009 Brown spoke of the incident in a pre-recorded Larry King Interview.This was his first public interview about the matter. Since then, he has tried to build uphis career again whilst remaining in the public eye, trying to prove himself right. Otherpop stars who have displayed themselves as both positive and negative in the public eyeare: R.Kelly, Madonna,
  • 3. Stars can however portray messagesthat can affect their audiences asthey provide people with a focus forideas which simply means whatpeople are supposed to look like. Forexample Jennifer Hudson who was asize 18 is now a size 10 implying toyoung women that women who arethin are much more beautiful thanthose who are plus size. This couldresult in many medical andpsychological problems such asstress, loss of confidence, anorexia,bulimia etc. On the other hand,people could sustain being differentand see fat as lovable rather than supporting hegemony by conforming to it (thin asbeautiful).Pop stars can also portray messages (beliefs, opinions and cultural values) verballywhich in turn will make them an icon to their fans that believe in their message or sharetheir beliefs. Once again, this can have both positive and negative outcomes onaudiences who look up to the stars.Other stars construct characters by creating an identity that they feel will appeal totheir target market. These characters can vary greatly to the personality of the actualpop star. The idea of constructing characters is so that their character can become anicon to their fans, which they believe in and can relate to in some way. Examples of PopStars who have constructed characters are:
  • 4. Nicki Minaj Roman Zolanski who she claims is her twin brother that out of rage was born inside her. She becomes him, when she is angry. She has also had other alter egos such as Cookie, Harajuku Barbie, Martha Zolanski and Nicki Minaj. Beyonc Sasha Fierce is Beyoncs stage persona who on stage is sexy, seductive and provocative. She is described to be too aggressive, too strong, too sassy and too sexy compared to Beyonc and therefore is seen as her out of body experience. David Bowie Ziggy Stardust is the rock and roll character that Bowie presented in his album The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars. He is wild in drug intake, sexually promiscuous and has a message of peace and love. However, he is destroyed by the fans he inspired and by his own excesses of drugs and sex. 40 years later, he is still recognizable. Lady Gaga Jo Calderone is Gagas male persona who she occasionally brings out.These characters may also be called alter egos.To conclude, a pop stars image in terms of looks, the type of music they make andother characteristics influences audiences. However, it is made clear that most of thetime their image is influenced by audiences as music companies have to construct starsto appeal to different types of audiences.