Developing these critiques, P. David Marshall (1997) takes a neo-Marxist approach in arguing that modem celebrity is a direct product of late-capitalist society. For him there is a 'convergence in the source of power between the political leader and other forms of celebrity' (1997: 19). Marshall argues that celebrities and politicians are commodities sold to audiences, and the relationship developed in capitalist societies between the 'leader' and the 'crowd' is central to the creation of both, suggesting that 'in the rationalization of the social, the celebrity ... celebrates the potential of the individual and the mass's support of the individual in mass society' (1997: 43). According to this argument, both celebrities and politicians promote similar myths of individualism, and construct a public form of subjectivity that expresses freedom and aspiration in a capitalist democratic society. However, Marshall also acknowledges the operation of different kinds of celebrity (with varying demands placed upon them by the public), noting that 'in politics, a leader must somehow embody the sentiments of the party, the people, and the state [whereas] in the realm of entertainment, a celebrity must somehow embody the sentiments of an audience' (1997: 203). We shall suggest that the distinction between the two, the subject of this chapter,
is not always straightforward and that the division between these spheres of activity has become increasingly blurred. In an age dominated by mediated politics, politicians also need to address their electorate as audiences. Granted, by relating celebrity to the processes of capitalism, Marshall usefully debunks the idea that celebrity is simply a status rewarded to talented individuals. However, his analysis of the celebrity politician is limited by a focus on the system in which celebrity is produced, thus neglecting to fully distinguish between different kinds of politicians and celebrities, and the ways in which they present themselves to the wider public. Through political campaigning and image management, the politician - like the celebrity - aims to appeal to a mass audience, but, we shall argue, this is not accomplished in quite the same terms. A key aim of this chapter is to address this distinction through an analysis of celebrity and political performance.