Trainwreck femininity and Whitney: monstrous feminine redux

Hopkins, Susan ORCID: (2020) Trainwreck femininity and Whitney: monstrous feminine redux. Celebrity Studies, 11 (1). pp. 153-156. ISSN 1939-2397


As a woman who is both loved and hated, revered and reviled, the celebrity trainwreck can be read as a powerful and creative model of subversion. That is not how Whitney’s Houston’s life story is framed, however, in film director Kevin Macdonald’s 2018 documentary Whitney. Rather, Macdonald’s film seems to be the latest in a popular line of ‘fallen woman’ trainwreck biopics, which undermine the agency of female performers and ultimately offer conservative treatments of gender, race and idealised femininity. I include in this genre Asif Kapadia’s award-winning documentary on Amy Winehouse, Amy (2015) and the Brett Morgen take on Courtney Love in the critically acclaimed Cobain: Montage of Heck (2015). Even less flattering are portraits presented by Nick Broomfield in Kurt and Courtney (1998). What these films seem to share is a (re)construction of the public self of a female celebrity through a montage of ‘insider’ accounts and interviews imbued with gendered ‘trainwreck’ mythology.

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Item Type: Article (Commonwealth Reporting Category C)
Refereed: Yes
Item Status: Live Archive
Additional Information: Permanent restricted access to Published version, in accordance with the copyright policy of the publisher.
Faculty/School / Institute/Centre: Historic - Open Access College (1 Jul 2013 - 7 Jun 2020)
Faculty/School / Institute/Centre: Historic - Open Access College (1 Jul 2013 - 7 Jun 2020)
Date Deposited: 02 Mar 2020 04:30
Last Modified: 26 Jul 2022 04:10
Uncontrolled Keywords: trainwreck femininity, train wreck femininity, monstrous feminine, celebrities
Fields of Research (2008): 20 Language, Communication and Culture > 2002 Cultural Studies > 200205 Culture, Gender, Sexuality
Fields of Research (2020): 44 HUMAN SOCIETY > 4405 Gender studies > 440599 Gender studies not elsewhere classified
Socio-Economic Objectives (2008): C Society > 95 Cultural Understanding > 9599 Other Cultural Understanding > 959999 Cultural Understanding not elsewhere classified
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