There is often a tendency to assume that politics is what happens on the news. But as Street (1997) argues, politics is also about what happens in media beyond the news. This chapter invites us to think about how politics may be manifest in media content that we might not immediately think of as ‘political’; the communication of societal norms and values, the very meaning of politics, can take place beyond the formal institutions of the state. The recognition of the significance of popular (and more recently, celebrity) culture to the ‘political’ is evidenced perhaps when we see politicians behaving as celebrities, seeking some ‘sparkle’ as they fraternize with rock stars. At the same time, we also see TV, music and film stars seek to raise awareness around political issues and influence policy. Angelina Jolie is UN ambassador for refugee issues; Joanna Lumley raised the profile of the Gurkha Justice Campaign group; and Hugh Grant, Steve Coogan and others have used their status to challenge how contemporary journalism has been operating, heading up the UK ‘Hacked Off’ campaign group (making representation about how mobile phones had been hacked by journalists).
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