Saturday, February 20, 2016

Core Reading Post 2: The New Promotional Process: Sidewalk Sashay

Celebrities are always on duty, especially when they have a new project coming out. The necessity for them to uphold their persona persists even when they are simply walking on the sidewalk, something we all do mindlessly. The celebrity life and style bloggers, Tom and Lorenzo, have an entire series on their blog dedicated to the “Sidewalk Sashay”, which they define as instances when celebrities capitalize on the paparazzi presence for publicity. If they are being seen, they might as well promote their brand and project all at once.
Tom and Lorenzo referred to Taylor Swift’s publicity for her album 1989 as her “Manhattan Summer Sidewalk Tour ‘14” and Reese Witherspoon’s efforts for her role in Wild as her “Parking Lot Tour of 2013/14”. These stars wear borrowed clothes and accessories to promote their upcoming projects, their own images, and the brands which lend them their items for promotional purposes.
These publicity techniques are updated versions of what Thomas Harris refers to in his piece “The Building of Popular Images: Grace Kelly and Marilyn Monroe”. Harris asserts “modern publicity methods decree that the screen star be known to his or her potential audience not only though film roles but also through fan magazines, national magazines, radio, television and the newspapers” and that “the totality of this publicity build-up is calculated to make the personality better known to a public which will respond by attending the screen hero’s starring films” (Harris 41). The combination of the pervasive nature of the paparazzi and the daily circulation of celebrity images online has led to the opportunities for stars to promote themselves shifting from the focus of the time Harris refers to. However, the intention of celebrities remains the same.

Harris goes on to reference the stereotyping process in Hollywood in which “publicists have worked with the studio policy makers to assure that their efforts will be consistent with the screen image” (41). Just as Grace Kelly and Marilyn Monroe had to curate their images to maintain their individual type of fame and their particular audiences, Witherspoon and Swift do the same by styling themselves in a manner that perpetuates their images. Tom and Lorenzo note Witherspoon’s  “Coordinated Schoolgirl Look” of a plaid skirt and sweater set, which parallels her sweet, girl-next-door image. Taylor Swift’s Sidewalk Sashay was similarly pretty painfully obvious as a publicity ploy. Although she was photographed each day “leaving the gym”, she was consistently perfectly coiffed, made-up and styled in a manner which matched the message of her 1989 album and her new image of grown-up but still girlishly relatable. Although, leaving the gym in Oscar de la Renta is quite clearly exclusively star behavior.

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