A Man for All Regions: Chris O’Dowd’s Multi-National Stardom and White Irish Masculinity
Chris O'Dowd, Irishness, Masculinity, race, Stardom, whiteness
University College Dublin
(at time of presentation)
Anthony P. McIntyre is a PhD student in UCD currently working on a thesis entitled “Leaning Toward the Horizontal?: Screen Culture, Celebrity and the Shaping of Political Subjectivities among “Millennial” Generation Youth Cultures.” He has work forthcoming in the journal Television and New Media, and an edited collection on the use of French theorist Pierre Bourdieu in Film and Media studies.
Chris O’Dowd is a rising star whose status was consolidated in his breakout performance in the comedy Bridesmaids (2011). In the wake of this success, O’Dowd opted to play the role of the Irish agent of a Maori girl group in Australian period comedy-drama The Sapphires (2012) as well as work on Sky 1 comedy, Moone Boy (2012-), a series based on his childhood in rural Ireland in which the actor plays Sean Murphy, the imaginary friend of the young central character, Martin Moone (David Rawle). Although excellent scholarship exists on the impact of Irish stars on Hollywood (and vice versa), with his recent acting projects spanning Ireland, Australia, Britain and the US, O’Dowd is perfectly situated to provide a contemporary case study in how a nationalized star text activates and inflects assumptions of whiteness and nationality depending on spectatorial position in a number of different contexts.
One of the features of Irishness noted in recent scholarship is its shifting ethnic identity in terms of whiteness. The claim that “Irishness often authorizes a location and celebration of whiteness that would otherwise be problematic” shall inform this paper’s analysis. In considering Bridesmaids, The Sapphires and Moone Boy we see how the complex signifier of Irish whiteness is repackaged in different national contexts and the challenge of this paper shall be to delineate the impact of such different iterations.