Fame Factory: Performing Gender and Sexuality in Talent Reality Television
Keywords:Talent reality television, popular music, performance, masculinity, femininity, sexuality
This article discusses how gender and sexuality are performed in a highly feminised cultural symbolic context. The object of study is a reality show where the contestants compete in mainstream popular music. Fame Factory is a Swedish talent-hunt television series with many similarities to Pop Idol. The audience may follow the struggle of the young artists off stage in the ’Fame School’ in addition to seeing and voting on their feats on stage. In the Fame School they learn to sing, perform and dance, but also to perform masculinity, femininity and sexuality, even if this is not explicit. Through an analysis of some key episodes of this reality show, the article discusses how gender and sexuality are produced and reproduced within this music television context. It is shown how the performances rest on highly traditional conceptions of these categories, but there are also certain transgressions, especially concerning sexuality, which undermine hegemonic structures.
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