Conspicuous redemption? Reflections on the promises and perils of the 'Celebritization' of climate change

Maxwell T. Boykoff, Michael K. Goodman

Research output: Contribution to journalConference paper

196 Citations (Scopus)


With rising public awareness of climate change, celebrities have become an increasingly important community of non nation-state actors' influencing discourse and action, thereby comprising an emergent climate science-policy-celebrity complex. Through novel and rigorously researched empirical material that tracks media coverage in Australia, Canada, the United States, and United Kingdom, we map out the terrain of a 'Politicized Celebrity System' in attempts to cut through dualistic characterizations of celebrity involvement in politics. We develop a significant and influential classification system of the various types of climate change celebrity activities, and situate movements in contemporary consumer-and spectacle-driven carbon-based society. Through these analyses, we place dynamic and contested interactions in a spatially and temporally-sensitive 'Cultural Circuits of Climate Change Celebrities' model. In this, the paper explores potential promises, pitfalls and contradictions of this increasingly entrenched set of 'agents' in the cultural politics of climate change. Overall, then, by working through the celebritisation of climate change, environment and politics, the paper makes a significant contribution to work on media and climate change and the cultural politics of the environment; it breaks novel theoretical, conceptual and empirical ground in this regard to not only contribute to ongoing debates but also work to move them forward and in novel and significant directions. It develops new concepts and models for understanding this celebritisation of the transnational spaces of environmental politics, develops a typology of celebrity activists but also contributes to the growing and significant debates on the production and consumption of media, its engagement at the level of the everyday and its shifting geographical imaginations.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)395 - 406
Number of pages12
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - May 2009


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