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The contemporary artist who’s social media I will be looking at in this essay is Beyonce. Beyonce is a very famous american singer and songwriter. I will be focusing on her instagram account. From a short time spent scrolling though Beyonce’s Instagram page, there we a few things that I picked up on.
Richard Dyers’ ‘paradox of the star’ suggests that stars are present in peoples lives through their music and interviews and social media etc but they are also absent at the same time as the audience do not know them personally, and they aren’t present in the audience’s life in person. Dyer also states that stars are both ordinary and extraordinary, as they are still people behind the fame and they have to eat sleep, pay bills and work (not in the same way but the principle still remains) to sustain themselves financially. Starts also have families and friends and indulge in some of the same activities as the general populous, e.g. watching TV, playing video games and reading, This is supposed to help make them relatable to their fans. While at the same time they are extraordinary in the fact that a lot of them are incredibly rich, get invited to vip exclusive clubs and events and they have their own product lines. This helps make them appealing to fans.
Beyonce has posted quite a few photos of expensive things such as flashy clothing, jewellery and even pictures of herself on what looks like a private jet, these things all show her wealth. Another thing I noticed is that the majority of her photos look like they have been taken by a professional photographer. If you think about how many posts she has on her Instagram, and how much it costs for professional photos to be taken, the overall cost would come to quite a hefty sum of money, which is another thing that demonstrates her wealth. She also has pictures of herself on magazine covers and at fancy exclusive events, this shows her fame.
There are far less posts on her Instagram that demonstrate the Idea of her being ordinary – pictures of her with her children and doing everyday tasks – in my opinion her Instagram pushes the idea of her being extraordinary over the idea of her being ordinary. I believe that this is one of the contributing factors to the fact that there are people in the world who worship the ground the woman walks on, and idolise her to an unhealthy extent.
Beyonce is present in fans lives through her music – when people listen to it they may feel a connection to her – the media – interviews, and news articles about her – people may feel like they know her after learning details about her work and life – and social media – as it allows them to keep up with whats going on in her life (only her work life, she doesn’t really post much about her personal life, hence the fact that there is more emphasis on her being extraordinary) and they can message her and tag her in posts which allows them to interact with her and vice versa.
However, due to her busy schedule and the amount of messages that she is likely to receive on a daily basis it’s highly unlikely that she will reply to many/ any of them. This causes her to be absent and present at the same time.
To summarize the extent to which the paradox of the star can be applied to Beyonce, Beyonce is presented as being more extraordinary than ordinary – this makes her less relatable to fans than other stars who are presented as equally ordinary and extra ordinary as most fans (beyond celebrities and stars who are fans of each other) will not be able to relate to the things that make the star extraordinary. Although these things make them interesting to fans, audiences are often drawn to things that they feel represented by or can relate to so for stars where that is not/ no longer the case they may find that they loose attention or don’t get as much attention as other stars who audiences can relate to and feel represented by. However this is not the case for all audiences, there are some who will still be drawn to the celebrity for the fact that they are extraordinary. For example stars like Beyonce who are mostly depicted as being extraordinary and are promoted for this end up with fans (this will not apply to all of their fans/ people that like the artist, but it is still something that happens) who worship the ground that they walk on and take their words and veiws on things as some divine prophecy, and idolize them to an unhealthy extent.This is especially bad when you realize that because they are soley depicted as extraordinary icons, part of who they are is lost which means that people are looking up to and worshiping artificial/ manufactured ideas of people that have been produced for promote an artist which is quite a sad,disturbing thing if you think about it in depth. Beyonce is almost equally present and absent for the aforementioned reasons. Which means that fans may feel like they know her but but do not actually know her personally.
Another theory that can be applied to Beyonce’s Instagram page and why people still follow her despite her not being relatable and still look at her posts (other than the fact that they worship the ground she walks on is) gratification theory. The idea that people use her social media to fulfill their basic needs. Identity – they agree with Beyonce’s views on things or they look up to her and aspire to be like her. Education – They want to gain knowledge about her and her latest career endeavours. Interaction – It allows them to have something to discuss with people who also like Beyonce. Escapism – Allows people to look at Beyonce’s lavish exiting lifestyle and forget about the mundanity of their own life.
A few other things that I noticed while looking at Beyonce’s Instagram were that:
Her Instagram page is very aesthetic and coordinated, which backs up the incorrect stereotype that females have Instagram aesthetics and that they only post stuff that they deem is good enough and fits the aesthetic that they are going for.
She also wears makeup in all of her photos and has not (from what I saw) posted any pictures without it, this could be seen backing up the ideology that women need to wear makeup to be beautiful. However, she posts pictures of herself in tight revealing clothes to
show off her body and she is not a skinny woman so this goes against the (counter hegemonic) ideology that women should be ashamed of their bodies if they are not skinny. This promotes positive body image and self love.
In a few of her photos shes standing in power stances, this combined with the idea of her wealth and fame as well as the fact that she has such an influence over her fans paints her in an important, powerful light. In the past the hegemonic ideology was that women were weak and men should be in charge. This ideology is now counter hegemonic and gender equality is promoted, this shows how times have changed.
In conclusion, Richard dyer’s star theory cannot be fully applied to Beyonce’s Instagram, brand images and RIchard Dyers star theory can be applied and so can gratification theory and Beyonce simultaneously backs up and breaks stereotypes and ideologies surrounding female gender.
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