Thursday, May 6, 2010

A Close Look at Celebrity Culture through its Media in France

by Isabella E Isbiroglu

“I am at the barber's, and a copy of Paris-Match is offered to me. On the cover, a young Negro in a French uniform is saluting, with his eyes uplifted, probably fixed on a fold of the tricolour. All this is the meaning of the picture. But, whether naively or not, I see very well what it signifies to me: that France is a great Empire, that all her sons, without any color discrimination, faithfully serve under her flag, and that there is no better answer to the detractors of an alleged colonialism than the zeal shown by this Negro in serving his so- called oppressors.” – Roland Barthes

photo Isabella E Isbiroglu

As I admire the glistening sun on my stroll through the Paris streets, I stop by a vendor to pick up some magazines to read in the Luxembourg Gardens. Because I am interested in public relations I always pick up magazines with celebrities on every inch of the cover. As I try to find a magazine on the hottest French starlets my eyes can only find the faces of Cameron Diaz and Scarlett Johansson. Where are the French celebrities? My eyes scan the magazines and I decide to pick up Paris Match. I started to question the transformation of celebrities in the media in France. Has it purely shifted to American faces? But Barthes says, “France is a Great Empire.” I could not imagine that it would really fall to American culture and let go of its own. As I skim through Paris Match my ideas start to shift, but there is clearly a difference in representation of information.

The new and old formats, March 2010 issues of Envy & Paris Match, photo author

It may not be that French culture does not recognize their celebrities through the media, but instead don’t find the need to make it a main focus on of their media. These new publications find an easy way to make money by selling cheaper American content because it is juicy and lets be honest, scandal sells, even if it is from a different culture. Because of French law every one has the right to their privacy, which is not a bad thing. So when French celebrities are acknowledged by the media it is for something specific; and that person has given them the right to publish that information. When reading Paris Match, celebrities are definitely present but placed in the same category as all affairs in a tasteful manner. French celebrities are present in celebrity magazines, it just depends which magazine you pick up. The newer celebrity magazines are not trying to place less importance on their own culture, rather they are just trying to sell scandalous information that French celebrities won’t provide.

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