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Living with scandal, rumour, and gossip

This book illuminates the personal experience of being at the centre of a media scandal. The existential level of that experience is highlighted by means of the application of ethnological and phenomenological perspectives to extensive empirical material drawn from a Swedish context. The questions raised and answered in this book include the following: How does the experience of being the protagonist in a media scandal affect a person’s everyday life? What happens to routines, trust, and self-confidence? How does it change the basic settings of his or her lifeworld?

The analysis also contributes new perspectives on the fusion between interpersonal communication that takes place face to face, such as gossip and rumours, and traditional news media in the course of a scandal. A scandal derives its momentum from the audiences, whose engagement in the moral story determines its dissemination and duration. The nature of that engagement also affects the protagonist in specific ways. Members of the public participate through traditional oral communication, one vital aspect of which is activity in digital, social forums.

The author argues that gossip and rumour must be included in the idea of the media system if we are to be able to understand the formation and power of a media scandal, a contention which entails critiques of earlier research. Oral interpersonal communication does not disappear when new communication possibilities arise. Indeed, it may be invigorated by them. The term news legend is introduced, to capture the entanglement between traditional news-media storytelling and oral narrative.

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members of her family. This brutal murder of a journalist opens Nobel Prize laureate Heinrich Böll’s novel The Lost Honour of Katharina Blum, which sold well and occasioned debate in West Germany when it was published in 1974. The reader follows the repercussions of the cynical headlines in everyday life, described in a documentary style characterised by ironic distance. Scenes depict the concealed and open loathing to which Miss Blum is subjected. Neighbours whisper, gossip, and spread malicious rumours about her, she who was previously, before the scandalous articles

in Exposed
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acceptable from the unacceptable, at a given point in time and in a certain context, is rarely crystal-clear from the start. If it had been, and the boundaries had been beyond dispute, there would have been very little need for degradation rituals in the form of mediated scandals and public shaming. The scandal serves as a point of support in everyday life, a foothold from which we can push off and look at vital questions together. Emotions are both individual and shared, and they shape our understanding of ourselves and our travelling companions in the continuously

in Exposed

1 In the middle of the media storm This part of the book presents fundamental themes in the interviews with the central figures of the scandals and their partners. I initially focus on the changes in everyday life that each scandal involved for those affected by it and the emotions it engendered. Initially, the emphasis is on the experience of actually being at the centre of a scandal and on the feelings of loneliness, guilt, shame, grief, and anger that came to dominate the lives of several of those affected. I will use everyday life as a starting-point, where

in Exposed
From Vietnam to the war in the Persian Gulf

everyday life. What we remember does not stay the same; memories are forgotten, revised, reorganised, updated, as they undergo rehearsal, interpretation and retelling. Moreover, the more important the event remembered, the more it is vulnerable to reconstruction, as it will be more frequently rehearsed, interpreted and retold. Halbwachs’ third point is to argue that remembering is always present

in Memory and popular film
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History, legend and memory in John Sayles’ Lone Star

, as it seems removed from and irrelevant to his own experience, Chet like Sam, must uncover the history of and division within his own family and see its complex relationships to everyday life. When Chet visits Otis’s Black Seminole Indian museum, a hybrid mix of escaped slaves and Native Americans whose ‘border’ identities reveal notions of origin or essence inadequate, he asks about one John Horse

in Memory and popular film

supplies them with nourishment, not least because people who work with media live and operate within a cultural context, just like everybody else. These people are, in their turn, in constant mediated as well as direct contact with ordinary citizens for tips and ideas about possible follow-ups and further investigation of the scandal. In addition, in everyday life in twenty-first-century Western culture, it has become increasingly difficult to draw clear dividing lines between, for instance, conversations via social media and ‘conversations among people’. The following

in Exposed
Gumboot dance in South Africa

structures of domination and oppression that underpinned the creation of gumboot dance within the everyday life of the miners. Let us pause to consider the structural use of gumboot dance within this play; I see it as a clash between the weak reading of political dance and the strong reading. Ian Steadman supports this reading in his claim about the actual politics underlying the play and its performance: it need not articulate a verbal political message to be political; it is subversive in its articulation of the voice of the voiceless. At the same time, even within this

in Dance and politics
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Fixing the past in English war films

instinctively invokes if we want to talk about politics in everyday life. Englishness, however, has taken a bit of a pasting these past thirty or so years, and the kind that I am talking about was only embarrassed by the efforts of Mrs Thatcher and her cronies to reassert a fatuous Great Britishness, which turned out to be in truth a merely shop-keeping little Englandism. Those same efforts of hers compounded

in British cinema of the 1950s
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Royal weddings and the media promotion of British fashion

’ projected on global media platforms. What comes first? Is an event of intrinsic significance captured on film, or does it become a fashion moment by being filmed? Doane’s writing on cinematic time provides a useful approach by reviewing early cinema and its ability to fix moments of time. 12 The actuality films of the late nineteenth and early twentieth century were often recordings of everyday life, of

in The British monarchy on screen