bell hooks Is An Aphrodisiac, Part Four

“When those who make their money from media call media criticism ‘censorship’, they are ‘framing’ their argument, or hoping audiences will view it in the way they are ‘framing’ their argument, or hoping audiences will view it in the way they’ve defined it. Framing uses powerful, often emotional language to manipulate the impression the message makes. In this case, media representatives understand that the concept of censorship goes against the American grain. We’re a culture built on freedom and the term censorship implies a type of authoritarian denial of liberties that we find repulsive. Using the words ‘censorship’ and ‘freedom’ then, are ways of framing the issue to their advantage. Actually, social psychologists who study persuasion tactics know that this type of framing specifically manipulates those members of society who are less knowledgeable.” – “How Fantasy Becomes Reality: Seeing Through Media Influence”, Karen Dill

“While the ‘ultimate’ celebrity’s rise might be attributable ‘solely’ to the media, celebrities typically perform some deed, however modest, to attract initial attention. That deed might involve an appearance on a television quiz show, a criminal action, or an inept showing at a major sports event: in other words, conduct that would hardly be regarded as commendable and deserving of recognition in earlier eras, perhaps as recently as the 1980s” – Ellis Cashmore, “Celebrity/Culture”

In this society, in this society that I find myself in, The United States Of America circa 2014-it seems as though we are pressured to treat those with greater amounts of things as great humans, or great persons. In this culture where the ideals of the Protestant work ethic and the Divine grace of wealth and possession has reached quite possibly its apex, we still glorify and apotheosize in many ways those that are in the position of celebrity. George Zimmerman kills a 17 year old US Black boy and by consequence of him not being arrested, this incident sparks national attention. Due to the national attention generated in an effort to have Zimmerman arrested and tried as a murderer in public court, Zimmerman is thrust into the public light. By virtue of the sheer amount of attention necessary for US Blacks to force the justice system of Florida to move to do their job, a god was made out of an obscure, talentless mortal.

In discussing celebrity, and in discussing the public figure, what we as analyst(for whatever reasons we need to analyze the elements that define “celebrity”), are really looking at under the microscope is social capital. A certain intangible tangible. You can feel it in the same way one feels presence, yet it is measured in an often controversial and slightly indirect or just inconclusive way by sociologist following the lead of marketers that seem not to care how much the numbers might be lying. When Ta-Nehisi Coates mentions the brand that is Melissa Harris-Perry as “the foremost public intellectual”, it is not without its admixture of objective reality and personal interest. When a scholar of the renown of a bell hooks refers to Harris-Perry as a “celebrity”, in a cheeky, but not really, sort of fashion, there is something to be measured here.

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