Lauren Conrad

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Lauren Conrad of the Hills is an interesting character for more than one reason. Most interestingly, she challenges the high/low culture divide in the series by embodying traditional (big screen) feminine celebrity values while occupying the small screen; she is glamorous like a movie star and melodramatic like a soap star, the show is based on “feeling” and womens stories but employs obvious cinematic conventions and movie star discrourses. One of her functions as a “soap star” is to create a sense of intimacy with the viewer, she comes across as normal, natural, accessible, yet always maintains the distance so characteristic of film actors. She is simultaneously average and exceptional, average in the way that the different facets of her life turn out, exceptional in that these experiences are showcased on television. Lauren serves as a point of reference for teen girls across the nation while also manifesting herself as a brand, a commodity to be bought and sold.

This leads into a discussion of Lauren Conrad as a true reality celebrity one whose “real” life piques the interest of fans beyond a morbid curiosity. A fan base exists for Lauren, and she has been able to promote herself beyond the realm of the Hills with clothing lines, make up lines, and other such endeavors. It is these things, in combination with her average characteristics (passive aggressiveness, jealousy) that make her marketable to the middle class as someone both “like us” and “above us”.

It should also be noted that Lauren’s “proximity” makes her a more useful tool for advertisers. Our ability to see ourselves in her conveys the idea that what works for her may work for us as an audience and is therefore more compelling to consumers.

On another tangent (I am aware the post isn’t particularly cohesive), what is particularly interesting about Lauren Conrad is the way in which her television persona seems to equate to her real life persona. In gossip magazines and blogs her life, drama, and decisions are discussed as one and the same as her show.  It is often debated over whether the show is scripted or not, but Lauren’s intentions are always attributed to herself. She is simultaneously autonomous and powerless, a character in her own right but victim to that character at the same time. Overall, one can gather that Lauren Conrad, the person and the character, are complicated beings involved in a very complex relationship that cannot truly be analyzed without a broad knowledge of both. I would say then that she is an example of the ways that reality tv can be subversive and complex even though it seems vapid and pointless.

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One Response to “Lauren Conrad”

  1. Allison Says:

    I have to say that Lauren Conrad embodies anything but onscreen celebrity values (assuming you are referring to actors in cinema). What she “embodies” is the persona of a young woman who flocked to Hollywood to find her fifteen minutes. Lucky for her, she’s had a few years.

    Whether she has a decent on-screen personality or not, nobody does reality TV that is not someone holding values of narcissism and self-love. Lauren Conrad is one of many girls who would do anything to be on television to promote herself as important.

    I do, however, think it’s really interesting what you said about her being used as a marketing tool because there is something about her that makes her both like us and above us. In this statement I do believe you have pinpointed the heart of reality television.

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