Celebrity in the Time of Covid: Fandom and the Influence of Pandemic Messaging (Paperback)
This work describes the crucial role celebrities played in the emergence of two competing narratives about Covid-19, one a pro-science narrative that advocated for preventive measures and the other a skeptical counter narrative that denied the disease's existence or downplayed its severity. During the first postmodern pandemic, a slew of interactions took place across a variety of platforms between prominent figures and those who connected with them, forming parasocial communities that framed perspectives on Covid-19. The author first describes how Covid-19 unfolded in the world of sports, then goes on to explain how supportive behavior toward public officials fueled the two competing narratives, emphasizing how celebrities themselves aided in the development of common perspectives. The text concludes with a description of how citizens initially regarded health care professionals as heroes, but even the most powerful public appeals could not persuade some that Covid-19 posed a genuine threat. Exploring the polarity of publicly held beliefs, this book documents how celebrity advocacy had a lasting effect on people's health choices during a global pandemic.
Christina S. Beck is a professor and associate director of graduate studies in the School of Communication Studies at Ohio University. She has authored or edited 11 books, in addition to multiple book chapters and journal articles, and her current research interests are at the intersections of health communication, fandom, and media studies. She lives in Athens, Ohio.