This course examines several instances of rock celebrity, focusing on the recent tragedy surrounding Michael Jackson, the "King of Pop," which, in many ways, parallels that of his predecessor Elvis Presley, the "King of Rock and Roll." While Jackson's career trajectory is eerily similar to that of Presley, his story involves additional complex issues of race, gender, mental illness, and criminality. Mega-celebrity is a phenomenon cutting across all the performing arts. However, rock superstardom has been a particularly difficult status to manage, perhaps because rock artists play pivotal roles in youth culture and are often perceived as mirroring broader societal changes. We examine how artists interact with the media forces through which they work. How do artists manage their image? Can this image be hijacked, and, if so, by whom and to what end? Can this image be reclaimed? In addition, we engage these artists as musicians and evaluate their impact on the development of rock music from the mid 1950s to the present day. Affiliate school: Music.
Prerequisites: SSI2 enrollment requires completion of SSI1 seminar