By Pete Fraser, Jonathan Wardle
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This is, of course, precisely the view of celebrity that is purveyed by TV talent shows such as Idol and The X Factor – although such shows also provide substantial illustrations of the ways in which celebrity is, on the contrary, consciously constructed and manipulated in line with commercial motivations. This naturalised view was very much rehearsed by the students in our research, especially in situations where they were encouraged to act as ‘real’ celebrities. By contrast, taking historical celebrities, and encouraging students to construct and manage fictional celebrities, provided a useful first step in developing a more critical conceptualisation of the whole phenomenon.
SEFT: Screen Education 1971–82. 3 Challenging Concepts: Learning in the Media Classroom David Buckingham In the UK – as in many countries around the world – the media education curriculum has typically been defined in terms of a set of concepts. While this approach evolved gradually during the 1960s and 1970s (see Bolas, 2009), it was probably first formalised in a short article published 30 years ago in Screen, the academic journal of the Society for Education in Film and Television (SEFT). Boldly and prescriptively entitled ‘What Every 16 Year Old Should Know about the Mass Media’, it had been drawn up by a SEFT Working Party in an attempt to inform the impending development of a new integrated examination system at 16+ (which became the GCSE).
The students’ ways of engaging with this theory – and indeed with the process of theorisation or conceptualisation – varied quite significantly. While some were content to ‘apply’ the theory, as though it provided a fixed set of rules, others sought to question its terms. For the latter, the theory offered them a set of tools, but those tools were adapted and, in some cases, rejected as they sought to explain their readings of the text. The approach here thus went well beyond merely applying a pre-given theory: the theory was interrogated, and was open to change in light of concrete examples and experiences.