chapter  1
The American Dream
Celebrity, Class, and Social Mobility
Pages 26

Celebrity culture seems to provide a continual reaffirmation that upward mobility is possible in America and reinforces the belief that inequality is the result of personal failure rather than systematic social conditions. Examining celebrity culture more closely provides a window through which we can better understand American society. We cannot really understand American social mobility over the last century without looking at the unique opportunities for female mobility, particularly with the invention of Hollywood. Women appeared on movie fan magazine covers far more often than men, and women were more likely to be the subject of magazine features. The industry not only provided women with careers and the chance to make lots of money, but women are the primary consumers of celebrity culture sold through fan magazines today. Just as the magazines focused on predominantly female readers, until the 1960s celebrity stories all but ignored performers of color and seemed to presume a white audience.