Fandom and its afterlife

Celebrity cemetery tourism

Authored by: Linda Levitt

The Routledge Handbook of Popular Culture and Tourism

Print publication date:  June  2018
Online publication date:  July  2018

Print ISBN: 9781138678354
eBook ISBN: 9781315559018
Adobe ISBN:

10.4324/9781315559018-18

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Abstract

Popular culture fans have long made pilgrimages to visit sites associated with celebrities: the popularity of Elvis Presley’s home, Graceland, is an exemplar of a tourism destination designed to capitalize on the unique experience offered to fans and tourists. A highlight of Graceland tourism is the annual celebration of Elvis Week, which culminates with a candlelight vigil at the musician’s grave (Elvis and his parents are buried on the grounds of his estate) on the anniversary of his death. Thousands of fans gather each August to mourn the rock and roll pioneer. Many see Elvis Week as a spectacle, epitomizing the excesses of fandom. Yet in recent years, public performances of fandom have rendered such celebrations more typical. As fandom communities become commonplace, so does the expansion for mediated grieving of celebrities and popular culture icons. Whether the death of a celebrity is sudden or media follows the illness and decline of a popular figure, digital media enables anyone with an online presence to participate in grieving. Participation is enhanced through the inclusion of still photos, movie clips, and music videos in social media posts that serve as parasocial eulogies.

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