Shameless self promotion. We as a society, generally speaking, do not approve of the celebrity who champions themselves at every turn. It’s like the overplayed commercial or the song you hear on every station. Celebrities are meant to be ubiquitous, but not because they try to be that way.
Anne Helen Peterson makes the argument that the “simultaneous embrace and disavowal of publicity is at the heart of stardom.” She is right in saying this. We expect our stars to both exist in the limelight while rejecting it at the same time. Stars, who plaster their faces all over everything, do not endear themselves to us. Eva Longoria is a current example of a star who seems to be everywhere. From commercials to magazine ads, Eva Longoria is everywhere. I was not an ardent fan of Ms. Longoria before, but I certainly didn’t have any major dislike for her. However, seeing her on commercial after commercial has left me more than a little annoyed, especially as there does not seem to be consistency in the ads she chooses to do.
However, the promotion of a star is necessary to the maintenance of their celebrity status. Peterson reminds us of this in her analysis of Reese Witherspoon’s interview with Vogue in which she claims to dislike the lack of privacy she has as a celebrity and the wedding pictures she sold to People Magazine. She notes that two purposes were being served by Witherspoon’s release of her pictures and her interview. “First, she was promoting her upcoming film, Water for Elephants, in which she stars with Robert Pattinson.” There is no coincidence that both the pictures and interview came out at a time which Witherspoon had a movie coming out. Second, the contradiction in Witherspoon’s actions serves to maintain her star image as the “southern girl” who is just like us. She needs the promotion to maintain her star status, but she does not want to appear as if she enjoys it too much.
Naturally the issue of privacy is crucial to this understanding of the inherent contradictions in a star’s image. The question lies in what each person identifies as privacy. For the star, it is fine to sell stories which they have given their approval of, but we always want more. For those stars who embrace the limelight we feel as if we are entitled to know everything. For those stars who shy away from the limelight we have an urge to know more. Either way there is often a disconnect in what the audience expects and what the star is willing to give. Our desire to see a star who doesn’t revel in themselves too much competes with our desire to know everything.
In the end there is a contradiction in the star image, publicity, and promotion, as Peterson points out. However, that contradiction is there because we as an audience cannot decide what we want from our stars. Is the contradiction stemming from them or from us?