Media Personality and Fan Community: A Study in Modern Communication and Culture
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Roberts, C. (2000) Media Personality and Fan Community: A Study in Modern Communication and Culture, no. 363.
This study examines the relations between the media personalities and their audiences. Its broad interest is with the implications for contemporary social experience of the fact that modern communication and culture involve mediated interaction. Its focus is on broadcasting's use of personality presenters to interact with viewers and listeners and on audiences' experiences of this. This thesis explains that broadcasting has developed a personality system to relate to audiences and discusses the characteristics of this system. It considers the importance of genre in determining the type of presenter used and the significance of their personality. It is argued that an awareness of the construction of personae has undermined broadcasting's traditional personality system where sincerity is crucial. The fact that nowadays professional personalities operate as commodities in a competitive marketplace is highlighted and the role played by management companies in their careers is explored. This research project provides a case study of the media personality Phillip Schofield. His role as a presenter and his place within popular culture are elaborated. His persona is examined in detail and shown to be consistent with the discourses of broadcasting's personality system. This study proceeds to investigate the consumption of the personality system. It reviews the existing literature on para-social interaction and the mediated relationships of intimacy at a distance that develop between persenters and their audiences. It contributes to this knowledge by presenting the findings from qualitative research into viewers' relationships with a media personality. This empirical study involved conducting in-depth interviews with four of Phillip Schofield's fans and spending time with the fan community these interviewees belong to. The formation of this group is outlined and the fact that sociability is an important aspect of fandom is stressed. Concentrating on the subjects' responses to Schofield, this research demonstrates that one form of fandom is rooted in the intensive cultivation of a para-social relationship.