The Politician/Celebrity and Fan(Girl) Pleasure: The Line Between Queen Hillary and Presidential Candidate Clinton

Jocelyn Smith


Whenever there is a major political event and the #TheBachelor live-tweeting continues, or popular online media outlets such as Jezebel go ahead with their pre-planned celebrity gossip coverage, there is outrage: seemingly, it is impossible to keep up with—and care about—both the Kardashians and election campaigns. During the 2016 United States’ election, however, this outrage emerged from within campaign coverage, drawing a line between “serious political supporter” (who is interested in facts and policy) and “emotional fangirl” (who is interested in memes, feelings, and “girl power” above all).

Despite Donald Trump’s history of reality TV and non-political celebrity, Hillary Clinton’s supporters were called “fangirls” and accused of celebrity-worship, of solely getting their news from “pop” media like BuzzFeed—where foreign policy coverage is found alongside discussions of how “dead” we are from a Clinton eye-roll—and of allowing fandom to cloud political judgment. This paper is not engaging in the “fake news” debate; rather, this paper explores the intersection of political celebrity and politician in a moment when governmental politics, celebrity, social media, and reality TV are overlapping in unprecedented ways, as well as the intersection of “serious” political campaigning and fannish pleasure in an historic moment for women in American politics.


Political Persona; Social Media; Fandom; American Politics; Hillary Clinton; Postfeminism

Full Text:



‘3 June 1992’, The Arsenio Hall Show, television program, CBS, USA.

‘2016’, Broad City 2016, television program, Comedy Central, March 16.

Anderson, KV & Sheeler, KH 2014, ‘Texts (and tweets) from Hillary: meta-meming and postfeminist political culture’, Presidential Studies Quarterly, vol. 44, no. 2, pp. 224-243.

‘Application Anxiety’, Gilmore Girls, television program, The CW, October 8, Netflix, retrieved 3 November 2017.

AOL 2017, ‘‘Fangirl’ Nicola Sturgeon meets Hillary Clinton at New York women’s event’, AOL UK News, 7 April, retrieved 1 May 2017, .

‘The Barbarian Sublimation’, The Big Bang Theory 2008, television program, CBS.

Bury, R 2005, Cyberspaces of their own: female fandoms online, Peter Lang, New York.

Campbell, KK 1998, ‘The discursive performance of femininity: hating Hillary’, Rhetoric and Public Affairs, vol. 1, no. 1, pp. 1-19.

Chang, L 2014, ‘Does Amber Lee Ettinger, a.k.a. the ‘Crush On Obama’ girl, still have a thing for the president?’, Bustle, 24 June, retrieved 24 November 2017, .

Crush on Obama 2007, YouTube, The Key of Awesome, 13 June, retrieved 24 November 2017, .

Douglas, SJ 1994, Where the girls are: growing up female with the mass media, Three Rivers Press, New York.

Drake, P & Higgins, M 2006, ‘‘I’m a celebrity, get me into politics’: The political celebrity and the celebrity politician’, in S Holmes & S Redmond (eds), Framing celebrity: new directions in celebrity studies, Routledge, New York, pp. 87-100.

Ehrenreich, B, Hess, E & Jacobs, G 1992, ‘Beatlemania: a sexually defiant consumer subculture?’, in K Gelder & S Thorton (eds), The subcultures reader, Routledge, New York, pp. 523-536.

Hebdige, D 1979, Subculture: the meaning of style, Routledge, New York.

@HillaryClinton, ‘Wife, mom, grandma…’, Hillary Clinton, Twitter, retrieved 3 November 2017, .

Jenkins, J & Scott, S 2013, ‘Textual Poachers, twenty years later’, Textual Poachers: television fans and participatory culture, twentieth anniversary edition, Routledge, New York, pp. vii-l.

Jenson, J 1992, ‘Fandom as pathology: the consequences of characterization’, in LA Lewis (ed.), The adoring audience: fan culture and popular media, Routledge, New York, pp. 9-29.

Kelly, N 2016, ‘The Hillary Clinton disciples getting out the vote’, The Atlantic, 7 November, retrieved 1 May 2017, .

Kendall Jenner for PEPSI Commercial 2017, YouTube, Kendall and Kylie, 4 April, retrieved 3 November 2017, .

Llorente, E 2013, ‘Hillary Clinton’s debut on Twitter cranks up speculation about 2016’, Fox News, 12 June, retrieved 3 November 2017, .

Marshall, PD 2014, ‘Persona Studies: mapping the proliferation of the public self’, Journalism, vol. 15, no. 2, pp. 153-170.

Marshall, PD & Henderson, N 2016, ‘Political Persona 2016—an introduction’, Persona Studies, vol. 2, no. 2, pp. 1-18.

Marwick, A & boyd, d 2011, ‘To see and be seen: celebrity practice on Twitter’, Convergence: The International Journal of Research into New Media Technologies, vol. 17, no. 2, pp. 139-158.

McRobbie, A 1991, Feminism and youth culture: from Jackie to Just Seventeen, Unwin Hyman, Boston.

Petersen, AH 2017, ‘Too gross: Abbi Jacobson and Ilana Glazer’, Too fat, too slutty, too loud: the rise and reign of the unruly woman, Plume, New York, pp. 51-72.

Rosen, C 2016, ‘Broad City: Hillary Clinton cameo not a political statement’, Entertainment Weekly, 12 March, retrieved 1 May 2017, .

Smith, A & Lambe, S 2012, ‘Texts from Hillary’, Tumblr, April 4-11, retrieved 1 May 2017, .

Tacopino, J 2016, ‘Huma Abedin gushes about how she became a Hillary ‘fangirl’’, New York Post, 5 April, 1 May 2017, .

Tarlov, J 2017, ‘Trump’s first 100 days, Hillary Clinton and America’s missed opportunity’, Fox News Opinion, 21 April, retrieve 1 May 2017, .

Turner, G 2004, Understanding celebrity, Sage Publications, London, UK.

Zubernis, L & Larsen, K 2012, Fandom at the crossroads: celebration, shame and fan/producer relationships, Cambridge Scholars Publishing, Newcastle-upon-Tyne, UK.



  • There are currently no refbacks.

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License | ISSN 2205-5258