Celebrity and the Law

18 June 2010

Celebrities should be appreciated for their social capital, suggests Associate Professor Patricia Loughlan.

In an interview with the Inner West Courier, Associate Professor Loughlan says celebrities can play a positive role in society.

"There is great condemnation of the cult of celebrity, but we as a society seem to feel both superior and inferior to celebrities," she says.

Associate Professor Loughlan believes celebrities create social capital by getting people talking.

"You might start talking to your friends about Tiger Woods, but then you might move on to other, more abstract things, like discussing fidelity and marriage."

Associate Professor Loughlan is the co-author of a new book, Celebrity and the Law, with the Law School's Professor Barbara McDonald and Professor Robert Van Krieken from University College Dublin.

She says the book deals with with areas of the law particularly affecting celebrities, such as the right to privacy, which she says celebrities sometimes hypocritically laid claim to despite otherwise courting publicity.
"There is a line and celebrities are entitled to certain basic protections.
"But I don't think, in the interest of privacy, we should be restricted to just what their publicist wants us to see."
Associate Professor Loughlaneven suggests that it's important to take someone like Paris Hilton seriously.
"She in some ways, and celebrities like her, are metaphors.
"Barack Obama and Paris Hilton, for example, are at opposite ends of the (celebrity) spectrum, but they're still both on the same spectrum.
"Barack Obama might seem all achievement and no froth, while Paris Hilton is all froth and no achievement.

"But they get us to start talking to each other, and they serve as metaphors for certain beliefs and certain values."

Celebrity and the Law - By Patricia Loughlan, Barbara McDonald and Robert van Krieken - The Federation Press

Contact: Greg Sherington

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