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Conspicuous redemption? Reflections on the promises and perils of the 'celebritization' of climate change

Boykoff, M. T. and Goodman, M. K. ORCID: (2009) Conspicuous redemption? Reflections on the promises and perils of the 'celebritization' of climate change. Geoforum, 40 (3). pp. 395-406. ISSN 0016-7185

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To link to this item DOI: 10.1016/j.geoforum.2008.04.006


With rising public awareness of climate change, celebrities have become an increasingly important community of non nation-state ‘actors’ influencing discourse and action, thereby comprising an emergent climate science–policy–celebrity complex. Some feel that these amplified and prominent voices contribute to greater public understanding of climate change science, as well as potentially catalyze climate policy cooperation. However, critics posit that increased involvement from the entertainment industry has not served to influence substantive long-term advancements in these arenas; rather, it has instead reduced the politics of climate change to the domain of fashion and fad, devoid of political and public saliency. Through tracking media coverage in Australia, Canada, the United States, and United Kingdom, we map out the terrain of a ‘Politicized Celebrity System’ in attempts to cut through dualistic characterizations of celebrity involvement in politics. We develop a classification system of the various types of climate change celebrity activities, and situate movements in contemporary consumer- and spectacle-driven carbon-based society. Through these analyses, we place dynamic and contested interactions in a spatially and temporally-sensitive ‘Cultural Circuits of Climate Change Celebrities’ model. In so doing, first we explore how these newly ‘authorized’ speakers and ‘experts’ might open up spaces in the public sphere and the science/policy nexus through ‘celebritization’ effects. Second, we examine how the celebrity as the ‘heroic individual’ seeking ‘conspicuous redemption’ may focus climate change actions through individualist frames. Overall, this paper explores potential promises, pitfalls and contradictions of this increasingly entrenched set of ‘agents’ in the cultural politics of climate change. Thus, as a form of climate change action, we consider whether it is more effective to ‘plant’ celebrities instead of trees.

Item Type:Article
Divisions:No Reading authors. Back catalogue items
Science > School of Archaeology, Geography and Environmental Science > Human Environments
Science > School of Archaeology, Geography and Environmental Science > Department of Geography and Environmental Science
ID Code:33666
Additional Information:Themed Issue: Gramscian Political Ecologies Themed Issue: Understanding Networks at the Science-Policy Interface

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