Anne Helen Petersen on Celebrities, Pop Culture, and “Trash”

Barbara Stanwyck, featured in one of the article's in AHP's series: Scandals of Classic Hollywood.

SC: Morning Anne! So glad to have you with us. I really enjoyed your talk at Webstock and had a great time chatting to you afterwards.

First of all — could you give us a short spiel about yourself; who you are, what you do, and why you’re interested in the celebrity aspects of pop culture, etc?

AHP: I’m currently working as a professor of media studies at Whitman College, a small liberal arts college in Washington State. I teach Intro to Television, Hollywood Stardom, Gender/Sexuality/Media, and an entire course on Mad Men. I also write a blog, Celebrity Gossip, Academic Style, which is basically just about what it sounds like, and regularly write for lots of places on the internet (The Hairpin, Slate, Los Angeles Review of Books, etc.) on issues pertaining to celebrity, media, and feminism. It’s pretty awesome.  But there’s not really a place in academia for me (as I found out on the job market this year) so I recently accepted a job as a features writer at BuzzFeed, which means that I’ll be writing longform, rigorously researched pieces (much like this one on Jennifer Lawrence) every two to three weeks.

SC: Yes — congrats on getting a Real Job! What were some of the most surprising responses you got when you announced that you’d be moving to BuzzFeed?

AHP: I’ve received so much support — my inbox is filled with dozens of emails from people in and outside of academia, and just the general virality of the announcement made it clear that the issues I faced during my job search / ultimate decision are by no means unique. I think some people are still skeptical as concerns whether or not I can successfully wed my academic background and BuzzFeed, but I can only write and prove those concerns wrong.

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