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  • Writer's pictureThomas Compton

Celebrities and Characters: Where does the reader fit into psychodrama?

Updated: Jan 3

While individuals will inadvertently reveal aspects of themselves in their “armchair” assessment of a celebrity's psyche, I found that there's more to be gained [...]

'The celebrity as teaching object: Using Kanye West and Kim Kardashian to explain Freud' Joseph S. Reynoso (2022)

[...] I was forced to confront the insistent reflexivity of my own desire: it turns out that it was really myself that I had all along been wanting to be talking about, and to.

Mourning Sickness, Rebecca Comay (2010)

It is generally considered much more difficult to have children think about characters in a play than celebrities or influencers. Perhaps the youth have a closer, or at least perceive, they have a closer relationship to media stars than previous generations. For better or worse, celebrities are more able to present their 'flaws' or narratives of struggle in ways which would likely be censored by previous interations of media.

The promise is that this is all somehow more real than theatre, film or other 'legacy' forms of entertainment. It can be easier to relate to or have an opinion about Kanye West than a Shakesperean character. However, young people having an opinion about something or thinking about public drama is always an opportunity not a distraction.

The crux of art is the ability to read oneself into a situation and then reflect on this act. Understanding how we have misread ourselves into a text is the most important effect. Perhaps the twist is not in feeling Kanye is becoming a modern Macbeth but that Macbeth is living out a modern Kanye.

Can the feelings brought out from discussing Kanye be transposed to Macbeth? This is not a question of looking for common themes but playing with what exactly we are misreading into the Kanye situation. It is more than diagnosing his behaviour but a matter of what makes us so interested, what parts of our behaviour, what feelings we want to repress we can see playing out in his life.

If we can understand, not what makes Kanye Kanye or Macbeth Macbeth, but rather how we each make Kanye Kanye, and so on, in our own image we might find literature grants not self-understanding but insight into self-misunderstanding

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