Barack Obama and Celebrity Spectacle

Douglas Kellner


In the contemporary era of media politics, the role of image and media spectacle has played an increasingly important role in presidential politics and other domains of society. As corporate journalism became increasingly tabloidized, the line between news and information and entertainment blurred and politics became a form of entertainment and spectacle. In this context, presidential candidates become celebrities and they are packaged and sold like the products of the culture industry. In this study, I will suggest some of the ways that the logic of the spectacle promoted the candidacy of Barack Obama and how he has become a master of the spectacle and global celebrity of the highest order. I will discuss how he became a supercelebrity in the presidential primaries and general election of 2008 and utilized media spectacle to help his win the presidency. Finally, I will discuss how Obama has so far in the first 100 Days of his presidency deployed his status as global supercelebrity and utilized media spectacle to advance his agenda.

Full Text: