Making and Selling the “Rock Star Pope”: The Celebritization of Pope Francis during His Five-Day Visit to the Philippines
This paper is an attempt to provide an analysis of the celebritization and celebrification of Pope Francis when he visited the Philippines from January 15 to 19, 2015. Employing the analytic concept of “culture industry” developed by the members of the Frankfurt School, and combining it with the current analyses in existing celebrity study under late capitalism, this paper will show how the local giant media corporations, namely, GMA and ABS-CBN, staged a grand “media event” that nationally mediatized and publicly magnified the celebrity status of the so-called “rock star Pope.” The current study contributes to the growing literature on celebrity study by focusing on the popular and charismatic religious leader of 1.2 billion Catholics worldwide. Toward the end of this paper, consistent with the critical slant of the Frankfurt School’s critique of mass deception, it is argued that the celebrity culture that created the “spectacle” of Pope Francis must be distinguished from his prophetic message. And this must be explored in future studies.
Keywords: Culture of Celebrity, Pope Francis, celebrity, spectacle, celebritization