In this article I explore the carnal nature of the celebrity confession. I argue that when the celebrity confesses they do so in, through, and with their revelatory bodies. The carnal celebrity confessional is very clearly a self-reflexive performance, often stage-managed and manipulative, and therefore designed to raise, redeem, or resurrect a profile, or for damage limitation. But it can also be, depending on the performative context, an “authentic” doorway into the crisis of the celebrity's living phenomenological self. The carnal confessional, then, can be an explicit, compliant or forced will to reveal all through the celebrity body that had guaranteed them fame in the first place, but which now fails them in some way. Or, it can be an unconscious, unthought, pre-semiotic sense-based revelation - a sensational leak - about some “truth” or damage that has/is being done to them as icons of desire. This phenomenological leak has the ability to make intimate the relationship between the celebrity confessor and the fans who receive it. I will conclude that celebrity confessional carnality can be read as a productive form of bio-power.
In this article the carnality of the celebrity confession will be read in terms of its relationship to Christianity and corporeal religiosity; to therapy discourse; to docility and active agency; and to affective intimacy. Britney Spears will be my central case study. I begin the article, however, with an overview of the embodied nature of the confessional, and its centrality to mediated life and individual self-worth, using Catholicism and the television therapy talkshow as my conjoining illustrative entry point.
This article was also published as a chapter in : Pieces of me : celebrity confessional carnality, in The star and celebrity confessional, Routledge, London, England, 2011, pp.41-53.
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