A new variety of African American celebrity has emerged. According to Cashmore the most avaluable product they sell, is a conception of America where racism has been rendered insignificant. Cashmore argues that the primacy of the market in celebrity-fixated American culture makes these figures unreliable indicators of Black America.
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Beyond Black is Ellis Cashmore's compelling appraisal of the impact of black celebrities on the cultural landscape of contemporary America. In recent years a new variety of African American celebrity has emerged: acquisitive, ambitious, flamboyantly successful and individualistic - more interested in channelling their energy into career development than into the political struggles that animated some of their predecessors. Bill Cosby and Oprah Winfrey were early examples; current A-listers include Beyonc and Tiger Woods.
The most valuable product these celebrities sell, according to Cashmore, is a particular conception of America: as a nation where racism has been - if not banished - rendered insignificant. Jargon-free but with scholarly attention to theory, evidence and logic, this is a riveting account of contemporary American society, from the minstrel shows of the nineteenth century, through the Hollywood film industry of the 1930s, to today's hip-hop culture.
Ellis Cashmore is Professor of Culture, Media and Sport at Staffordshire University, UK