ABOUT THIS BOOK
Celebrity culture today teems with stars who challenge long-held ideas about a “normal” body. Plus-size and older actresses are rebelling against the cultural obsession with slender bodies and youth. Physically disabled actors and actresses are moving beyond the stock roles and stereotypes that once constrained their opportunities. Stars of various races and ethnicities are crafting new narratives about cultural belonging, while transgender performers are challenging our culture’s assumptions about gender and identity. But do these new players in contemporary entertainment media truly signal a new acceptance of body diversity in popular culture?
Focusing on six key examples—Melissa McCarthy, Gabourey Sidibe, Peter Dinklage, Danny Trejo, Betty White, and Laverne Cox—Rebellious Bodies examines the new body politics of stardom, situating each star against a prominent cultural anxiety about bodies and inclusion, evoking issues ranging from the obesity epidemic and the rise of postracial rhetoric to disability rights, Latino/a immigration, an aging population, and transgender activism. Using a wide variety of sources featuring these celebrities—films, TV shows, entertainment journalism, and more—to analyze each one’s media persona, Russell Meeuf demonstrates that while these stars are promoted as examples of a supposedly more inclusive industry, the reality is far more complex. Revealing how their bodies have become sites for negotiating the still-contested boundaries of cultural citizenship, he uncovers the stark limitations of inclusion in a deeply unequal world.