Hennenfent, Jessica. (2016). The Looking Glass Celebrity: How Individuals Learn How to Perform Fame in the Kim Kardashian: Hollywood Mobile App Game.” Paper to be presented at CONSOLE-ing Passions International Conference on Television, Video, Audio, New Media, and Feminism, panel on Gendered Labor in Digital Culture Industries. Notre Dame, Indiana, June 2016.
Abstract: The Kim Kardashian: Hollywood mobile app game has been an immensely popular game that earned $200 million in its first year of release alone. In order to “win” this games, individuals must perform fame “correctly” and “successfully.” With the rise of celebrity mobile gaming, questions emerge as to how one knows how to successfully manage fame in this virtual context, when, presumably, being a celebrity is outside of one’s direct experience. So what does performing fame look like, and how do individuals learn how to navigate this virtual fame world? This research seeks to explore answers to how individuals learn how to “correctly” perform fame by examining literature from celebrity studies, as well as video games studies that work with the symbolic interactionist approach of the Looking Glass Self. Specifically, this research merges cultural theories of celebrities, and their perceived illusions of intimacy, with work of Goldstein and Cialdini (2007), who suggest that in some cases, individuals adopt attributes of those extremely close to them because they are capable of seeing themselves before similar behavior. I argue that because of omnipresence in celebrity media texts and her crucial role as a guide in the Kim Kardashian: Hollywood universe, Kim Kardashian herself emerges as a close other in which learns how to “successfully” perform fame.