Girsh, Yaron. “Between My Mother and the Big Brother: Israeli Adolescents’ Views of Heroes and Celebrities.” Journal of Youth Studies 17.7 (2014): 916-929.
Sociological interest in popular culture has contributed much to our understanding of heroes and celebrities as promoted by the media in a macro-cultural sense. However, knowledge of how individuals interpret these processes and the characters promoted thereby is lacking. Based on 44 group interviews with Jewish adolescents in 12 Israeli high schools, this study explores youth attitudes toward heroes and celebrities, including how they are differentiated from one another, and the cultural, social, and personal meanings associated with them. In contrast to prevalent social conceptions, and offering a differing focus from that of previous research, this article argues that the characters promoted by the media have little meaning for adolescents. Moreover, adolescents view celebrity worship as a phenomenon that threatens one’s identity. A few celebrities do gain the title of hero, however, thus shifting the traditional dichotomy between hero and celebrity toward a more nuanced position on the continuum. These findings undermine the moral panic accompanying celebrity worship and the place of celebrities in adolescents’ lives, and challenge the analytical hero-celebrity dichotomy.