Musicians and the Media

Charlotte Airey explores the twisted and often toxic relationship between artists, fame and the media.

Charlotte Airey
2nd March 2021
Image credit: TheRichest
It's highly debated as to whether the impact of fame and stardom has a positive or negative impact on artists careers, with some individuals seeming to thrive under the pressures of fame, and some crumbling. With these two instances being mutually exclusive, it is interesting how this can be managed or avoided and the coping mechanisms that can be attempted to aid the artists in their battle against the tabloids.

In the wake of ‘Framing Britney Spears’, we have seen individuals come forward and apologise for their part in the way Britney was treated, including Justin Timberlake, her ex-boyfriend. But can this harsh treatment of musicians be accounted for by individuals, or can it be blamed on the media? In a world that is becoming more and more media-saturated, I think there is more of a focus on artists relating to their celebrity status, as opposed to their musical talents and abilities. This then can have negative repercussions regarding their career, like Britney.

It could be argued that celebrity culture can have positive impacts on careers, with artists such as Kanye West and Lady Gaga seeming to bask in their fame, with West running for President, and venturing into every industry possible, and Gaga inspiring a generation to be proud with ‘Born This Way’. For these two in particular, celebrity culture has had a positive impact on their careers, and it may seem that way for others, but we never know what is happening behind the scenes. With West’s recent mental health difficulties and his pending divorce, it can easily be argued that even for someone whom it seems that this extra pressure has elevated their career, there seems to be impending doom.

Although I can’t speak for any of them, and there will be differing opinions, I think with becoming a professional musician and suddenly rising to fame no one is truly prepared for what is thrown at them – whether it be constant attacks from the media, being controlled and exploited by management, or being accused of not being true to themselves. 

Two interesting responses to the realisation of the impact of the media could have on their careers are Billie Eilish and Sia. Eilish was aware her body would be sexualised by the media which could have an impact on her career, so chose to just wear baggy clothes; as soon as she did wear a vest top out in public, she was immediately sexualised and harassed. Sia was aware of her age and how she looked, thinking the media could demonise her for being older than most, so she wore a wig that covered her face. As soon as Adele lost weight recently, she was instantly talked about and her picture posted everywhere, talking about her weight. When Amy Winehouse was with us, the media targeted her, demonising her for her addiction, and it can be seen with countless other artists that are in the limelight.

But will the media ever learn? Celebrity culture is moulded and formed by gossip columns and the rhetoric of consistently dragging artists down in my opinion will never stop. Thus meaning that even after a documentary as impactful as 'Framing Britney Spears', there will be no cease to their fire. Celebrity culture is becoming more and more toxic in every way possible and I think it is saddening that that is now what is valued over their talent and artistry, the only reason they are in that position to start with. 

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AUTHOR: Charlotte Airey
Politics Student @ NCL Uni
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