Monday, 19 December 2011

Age Spots and Spotlights: Celebrity, Ageing and Performance

Actress Nicole Kidman at the 2011 Santa Barbara International Film Festival. Photograph by Caroline David, shared under a  Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic license at Wikipedia. Listen to Pam Cook's brilliant talk about Kidman's "commodity stardom" here.

Film Studies For Free was thrilled to discover that audio files of the talks from the conference on Age Spots and Spotlights: Celebrity, Ageing and Performance, which took place on December 9, 2011 at Birkbeck College, London, are now available online for listening and download.

The talks are of a very high calibre indeed, so several hours of truly worthwhile, scholarly listening await you. Links and a description of the event are given below. Enjoy!
Organisers' description of the event:

Diane Keaton has just published her memoirs. Reflecting on becoming a mother at 50 and kissing Jack Nicholson at 57, Keaton is ageing in her own unique way. On Friday 9 December Birkbeck, University of London, [held] a major research symposium exploring how stars including Keaton, Brigitte Bardot, Nicole Kidman and Elizabeth Taylor aged in the public eye.
  This one-day research symposium, organised by Dr Janet McCabe and Dr Deborah Jermyn, [debated] two significant (and interlinked) issues; performance and ageing. Encompassing both historical and topical case studies, speakers [considered] a range of celebrities, stars and case studies drawn from different national and industrial contexts. The keynote speaker w[as] Professor Ginette Vincendeau (King’s College, University of London).
   The co-organisers believe the time is right for new scholarship focussing on ageing and celebrity and for us to think anew about how we think about growing old. We hear endless reports of how age is becoming increasingly relative, ‘60 is the new 40’ and so on’. With the baby boomer generation going into retirement and being reluctant to be written off as ‘old’, there is a heightened demand for positive representations of ageing. At the same time, stars like Helen Mirren are re-writing the rules for older women working in Hollywood, says Jermyn. The symposium addresse[d] some of these issues and ask[ed]s just how much things are really changing, since women stars are still subjected to a much more critical eye as they age than are their male co-stars. ‘Growing old, and I do mean growing’ writes Diane Keaton, ‘requires reinvention’. I like this quote, says McCabe. We must adjust our ideas about how we age without talking exclusively about how we defy the ageing process. This symposium adopt[ed] different perspectives [...] about how celebrity is changing our perceptions and attitudes toward ageing and getting older.
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