Gender performance in American Idol, Pop Idol and The X Factor

DELLER, Ruth A. (2012). Gender performance in American Idol, Pop Idol and The X Factor. In: ZWAAN, Koos and DE BRUIN, Joost, (eds.) Adapting idols: authenticity, identity and performance in a global television format. Ashgate Popular and Folk Music Series . Farnham, Ashgate, 181-194.

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This chapter considers how gender and sexuality are performed and constructed within Pop Idol (2001-2003), American Idol (2002-present) and The X Factor (2004-present). These shows, big hits in the UK and USA, propelled several acts to stardom, not least judge Simon Cowell, who features in all three. They offer audiences a chance to witness the creation of ‘pop stars’ by taking ordinary people and showing their transformations into celebrities (Holmes 2004). However, the process of star-making at work in these shows occurs within clear discursive frameworks about what it means to be a man or a woman (also see Jeroen de Kloet and Stefan Landsberger’s chapter in this volume for a discussion of sexuality and gender representation in the context of the Chinese Super Girl contest). In this chapter, I draw upon Judith Butler’s (1990) ideas about gender as performative and Richard Dyer’s (1979; 1986) discussions of ‘star image’ to explore the way these shows construct their stars via restricted codes of gender. I will particularly look at the complicated relationship these shows have with gay men, and their presentation of women as heterosexual objects of desire.

Item Type: Book Section
Research Institute, Centre or Group - Does NOT include content added after October 2018: Cultural Communication and Computing Research Institute > Communication and Computing Research Centre
Identification Number:
Page Range: 181-194
Depositing User: Ruth Deller
Date Deposited: 04 Sep 2012 12:05
Last Modified: 12 Oct 2023 11:32

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