chapter  Chapter 4
Imagined Community, Self-formation, and Long-distance intimacy
WithRobert van Krieken
Pages 26

People can only know about their fellow citizens in the world of the imagination, the written word, images, and sounds conveyed over the mass media, such that a ‘nation-state’ is inherently an ‘imagined community. Celebrity can be understood, writes Goldsmith, ‘as an extensive, industrialized and intertextual mode of gossip, disseminating information, facilitating identifications, channelling desires, defining relations within a community, proscribing behaviours and legitimating values’. Central to the structure of the relationship between celebrities and their audience is the construction of oneself as a ‘fan’, where the relationship with a smaller range of celebrities, often only one, becomes a key aspect of identity and self-formation. Celebrity gossip is a safe and effective way of breaking the conversational ice, whether it be with old friends, casual acquaintances, or strangers, and more generally a central aspect of the public sphere – pubs, workplaces, cafes – alongside private social interaction.