Conference Paper: Cinderella Stories and Keanu Memes: Offline Encounters in Online Celebrity Identity Construction.

Presented at the University of Western Australia, Perth, December 2019.

This paper explores celebrity mythologies which germinate across different fan communities and social media platforms in response to specific celebrity figures. It does so by examining two examples in which the celebrity enjoys abundant popularity on social media, despite refusing to engage with it in real life.

Bill Murray, Crashing the Funeral of Elvis Presley, Memphis, 18 August 1977

Drawing on Bill Murray and his lived encounters with fans, which are shared online as a form of urban legend, I assess how fan communities implement these stories as a means of engaging with each other as well as expressing their appreciation for Murray as celebrity oddball. In contrast, I look at Keanu Reeves, focusing on the role of twitter and meme culture in the construction of his enduring celebrity identity.

What these examples demonstrate is the power of offline (or real world) celebrity encounters in influencing the online legacies of celebrity figures. In Murray we see a transformation from comedic actor into cultural guru, while Reeves recent surge in popularity draws heavily from his status as meme icon and modern-day philosopher. I conclude by discussing how the celebrity power that each enjoys is indebted to their respective fan communities, which have used online platforms to build, mediate and curate their celebrity image.

This conference paper is currently being adapted into a chapter for an edited collection, which is a result of the papers delivered at this conference and the FSN Conference, held at Swinburne University, Melbourne in December 2019.

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