Ellis Cashmore: Master Of Timelines, Pop Culture And Celebrities

Here, we pay tribute to one of our longstanding and beloved authors. Professor Ellis Cashmore and our FO° Team have forged a number of pieces in our crucible of collaboration.

November 15, 2023 23:14 EDT

Ellis Cashmore
Dear FO° Reader,

Many of you are already familiar with our timelines. They are one of our staples. They can be serious, like “Kashmir: 200 Years of Blood in ‘Paradise on Earth’,” or fun, like “Pop Eats Itself.” But they all are tools for learning, and are written to be both accessible to beginners and useful to those in the know.
Pop Eats Itself

Kashmir: 200 Years of Blood in “Paradise on Earth”

We make it our mission to publish content that is timeless. Timelines have that quality. They compress a lot of information in a digestible format. You can use timelines to refresh your knowledge, to organize your thoughts and to see what you might have missed. This makes them useful as a resource for teaching, learning and sharing.

The Story of World War II is our signature timeline. Politicians, diplomats, military officers, high school teachers and history buffs have givs positive feedback as well as shared it among their circles. 

Of late, we have been producing timelines at a much faster pace. The person who deserves credit for more timelines is Ellis Cashmore. As he remarked to us, he has “caught the timeline bug.”

Who is Ellis Cashmore?

Ellis Cashmore is a retired sociology professor. He made a name for himself writing about the social aspects of sports, entertainment and celebrity culture.

Pop culture wasn’t a passion Ellis was born with. It was more of an accident. As a young man, Ellis attended technical school, but he never found drafting and designing congenial. He worked for a few years before going back to school. There, he discovered his love of writing. Ellis could express himself with articulation and clarity, and his professors encouraged him to pursue this newfound talent. By the end, he had a PhD in sociology.

Ellis went on to become a university lecturer and chose to work on football culture. He was an educational entrepreneur who created a teaching module on football and found his inbox full of requests from journalists for interviews. Inadvertently, Ellis had become the father of football studies.

One journalist from The Sun interviewed Ellis while he was driving to the university about his module. Given the times, the journalist asked, “Is there anything about David Beckham?” Ellis replied that there was nothing about Beckham in the module. However, he conceded that Beckham was an emerging phenomenon. The handsome young Manchester United player was even dating Posh Spice — now better known as Victoria Beckham. After the interview, Ellis found himself in the news. The very next day, The Sun ran a story titled something like this — “Professor Cashmore Plans a Course on Beckham Studies.”

Overnight, Ellis himself became a celebrity, if only temporarily. For the next couple of weeks, his phone rang off the hook. Ellis fought the idea of Beckham studies but then went with the flow. People talked about Beckham and Ellis engaged with them. At that stage, he had no particular interest in Beckham. However, Ellis got into studying this celebrity footballer because of the massive response to what he had believed to be an “innocuous” interview.
Is Football a Force for Good or Evil?

The Sun article led to a book deal. Ellis agreed to write a book about Beckham in order to publish the book he really wanted to write. This was meant to be on the boxer Mike Tyson, which he went on to publish later. Later, Ellis produced the textbook Celebrity Culture, which is now in its third edition.

Thanks to The Sun, the die was cast. Ellis was now the celebrity expert. He spent the next decades studying and writing about celebrities as well as our endless fascination with them.

Why Ellis writes for Fair Observer

In 2016, Ellis first published with us. In fact, we republished an obituary for Muhammad Ali which he had originally penned for The Conversation.
Final Bell Sounds for Muhammad Ali: The Greatest

Ellis started writing the obituary while Mohammad Ali was still alive. This is common practice in journalism. Italian journalists call this a coccodrillo, a piece they keep in the drawer about celebrities and important figures. When such a figure dies, journalists quickly publish the coccodrillo.

After some quibbles with The Conversation, Ellis met Fair Observer’s editor Anna Pivovarchuk, and the rest is history. He has been writing for us ever since.

Ellis is an exemplary author and a great storyteller. Even though he is an accomplished author and an eminent professor, Ellis is the exemplar of intellectual humility. He maintains that there is always more to learn. Perhaps this is the reason Ellis has taken to timelines like a duck to water. He comes up with ideas and works with team members in the US, Europe and India to produce a finished product.

We asked Ellis what keeps him writing for Fair Observer. He told us it’s our ethos. We celebrate independence of thought, we do not impose any editorial line and we respect fresh thinking. If such words were uttered by a less honest man, we might have dismissed them as flattery! 

Needless to say, we are flattered by Ellis’s words. We are delighted to learn that our mission resonates with our authors, including those as eminent as Ellis. We hope our mission resonates with you too.

Perhaps you might want to share your thoughts as well through an article, an interview over Zoom or perhaps even a timeline. 


Roberta and Anton

P.S. In case you want to see a timeline on topics like the Cold War or the Israel-Palestine conflict or anything else, let us know. Remember, we are looking for sponsors and partners. If you are interested or know someone who might be interested, please get in touch.
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