Bratz, BFFs, princesses and popstars: femininity and celebrity in tween popular culture

Kennedy, Melanie (2012) Bratz, BFFs, princesses and popstars: femininity and celebrity in tween popular culture. Doctoral thesis, University of East Anglia.

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Abstract

The last decade has seen a dramatic increase in media output aimed at “tweens” (preadolescent girls), and the expansion more broadly of tween popular culture. This
exclusively female preadolescent consumer demographic is seen to emerge alongside a heightened visibility of girls within popular culture since the mid-1990s, and continuing anxieties about girlhood in this intensely mediated environment. However, this burgeoning field has yet to be matched in academic attention. This thesis offers a timely examination of mainstream tween films, television programmes, celebrities and extra-texts from 2004 onwards, including “princess” narratives The Prince & Me
(2004, 2006, 2008, 2010) and A Cinderella Story (2004, 2008, 2011), and Disney Channel programming and Original Movies, Hannah Montana (2006-2011) and Camp Rock (2008, 2010). It forges a dialogue between postfeminism, film and television, celebrity, and the figure of the tween, in order to examine how the tween is both constructed and addressed by the films and television programmes that make up tween popular culture.
Tweenhood is a discursive construction emerging in the mid-1990s and coming to cultural prominence in the early twenty-first century. The tween is understood to be defined by her transitional status, her “becoming”-woman; as such,
the texts that make up tween popular culture can be seen to guide the tween in her development of an “appropriately” feminine and (post)feminist identity through a rhetoric of “choice”. Such identities are predicated on revealing and maintaining an “authentic” self. The need to develop an “appropriately” feminine and (post) feminist identity whilst remaining “authentic” requires the tween to be the ideal selfsurveilling, transforming subject of neoliberalism. Celebrity plays a central role in tween popular culture, articulating the parallels between “becoming”-woman and
“becoming”-celebrity. Through a combination of textual analysis, and broader discursive and contextual analysis, this thesis highlights the centrality of femininity and celebrity to the tween as a figure constructed by the texts that make up tween popular culture. It analyses the ideal tween consumer as projected by the texts. This thesis draws attention to the culturally and academically devalued subject of the construction of tweenhood within a gendered, age-specific popular culture.

Item Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Faculty \ School: Faculty of Arts and Humanities > School of Film,Television and Media
Depositing User: Brian Watkins
Date Deposited: 05 Dec 2013 16:56
Last Modified: 05 Dec 2013 16:56
URI: https://ueaeprints.uea.ac.uk/id/eprint/45684
DOI:

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