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Elegance and Mystery in Fame

April 7, 2013

Dear Readers,

I am writing from Kingston, Canada (my other home).  As I was checking Facebook around 7:30 am this morning, I came across a posting on ‘Melancholie Soul, Beauty and Retro’ and felt compelled to share my thoughts on it!  The page often represents Hollywood glamour in the past and artistic inspirations in the present.  In both cases, there is a sense of escapism and mystery that appeals readers.  As you can see, I am not an exception when it comes to that appeal.  At the same time, as a Celebrity Cultural Critic, I find missing links that make famous representations elegant and fascinating on the page!

 

Today ‘Melancholie Soul, Beauty and Retro’ posted an interesting reflection made by actress Claudia Cardinale: “I’ve never felt scandal and confession were necessary to be an actress. I’ve never revealed my real self or even my body in my films. Mystery is very important.”

The words and pose of Cardinale show that she figured in the dominant discourses of popular culture.  Being a part of these discourses, she conflated and confused acting and stardom.  Although discourses of acting have played a role in constructing on and off screen persona, its mystery is different from the stardom the persona carries.

Mystery, as manifested through the question of a star’s authenticity, is one of the key elements of elegance and seduction in fame.   Often the question of authenticity is expressed through ‘scandals’ and ‘confessions’.  These are cultural sites through which the paradox of the extraordinariness and ordinariness of the star is expressed.

The extent to which self or body is revealed in acting is a matter of morality.  I cannot say that kind of morality is truly a personal choice as it is often imposed by a patriarchal and industrialized society where unconditional love and embodied feelings are judged and suppressed.  Like many of us, Cardinale figured in a dominant society and there is little doubt about that the social conditioning she faced.  What is hidden and ambiguous is her conflation of acting and stardom.  We often assume that an actor is a star and are not conscious of the process in which the two cultural constructions can be merged.  When Cardinale inserts the words ‘scandal’ and ‘confusion’, it is not a mere linguistic exercise.  It is rather an expression of dominant discourses of fame in which a celebrity is constructed.  Claudia Cardinale, then, mediates the talent of her acting and establishes self-fashioning of fame.

On this note, I wish you all a shining week ahead!  Ask yourself this week:  do dominant representations and practices of fame limit your innate creative talent?  Even if elements of fame have helped you to get recognized, is it truly sustainable without hard efforts?

Stay tuned for my upcoming review of the film Women on Top and see how charming Spanish actress Penelope Cruz seduces all with sensuous food and fame even today!

With affection,

Samita Nandy

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