Chapter 2 Mediating Bieber in Canada: Authenticating Nation in Fame

In: (Extra)Ordinary?
Samita Nandy
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This chapter examines ways in which online fame expresses offline constructions of a nation. These expressions are often articulated through ordinariness of a nation in contrast to the extraordinary talent or heroism of a celebrity. Since maintenance of territorial boundaries has been the traditional premise for a unifying national identity, the global reach of online fame may threaten national interests of media corporations. Nevertheless, corporations often reclaim national identity of celebrities for development of national and transnational brands. The expression of a dominant national identity also helps fans to identify with celebrities, both online and offline. This chapter maps the relation between fame and nation, and uses a case study of pop star Justin Bieber to show specific ways in which his national identity is accepted, negotiated or subverted in online and traditional media. In particular, this chapter shows how the tensions between Bieber’s extraordinary talent and the ordinariness of his nation unfold questions of authenticity. The use of Justin Bieber’s authenticity not only maintains his fame but also Canada as his homeland and a frontier nation in a colonialist context. To understand organisational and corporate ways of articulating national identity in fame, the chapter recognises the need to focus on industrial production as well as the discursive construction of celebrities.

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