'My people,' politics & pop culture – Lewiston Morning Tribune
Far from the star-studded neighborhoods of Beverly Hills and New York’s Upper West Side, Lewiston might be the last place you’d expect to produce an expert in celebrity culture and gossip.
And yet, Lewiston native Anne Helen Petersen is nationally recognized as such. Since writing her doctoral dissertation on the gossip industry, Petersen has authored two books on the subject and is read by thousands online as a senior culture writer for BuzzFeed.
Petersen reads from her latest book, “Too Fat, To Slutty, Too Loud: The Rise and Reign of the Unruly Woman” today in Moscow and speaks Friday night in Lewiston about film and culture in connection to her own experiences at Lewiston’s historic Liberty Theater.
When it came to pop culture, Petersen was like any other kid growing up in the valley during the 1990s. The only way she encountered celebrities was on the screen at the Liberty Theater or on the pages of magazines like People and Entertainment Weekly.
“I rented the same movies as everyone else from TR Video,” Petersen said in a recent phone interview from a coffee shop in Missoula, Mont., where she now lives.
After graduating from Lewiston High School in 1999, she studied film and media at Whitman College, went to University of Oregon for a master’s degree and got her doctorate at University of Texas.
If celebrity gossip seems to lack academic credibility, Petersen asserts that there’s more to it than browsing magazines or social media for entertainment. How we talk about celebrities, she said, says a lot about a culture. It reveals the qualities a culture values in its individuals and it predicts national trends or shifts in perspective. It also helps people to process personal matters.