International Journal of Humanities and Social Science

ISSN 2220-8488 (Print), 2221-0989 (Online) 10.30845/ijhss

The Death of Big Tex: A Parasocial Interaction Case Study
Justin C. Velten

October 19, 2012 was the day Big Tex, the 52-foot Texas State Fair icon, died (Aasen, 2012). The news of the statue’s burning sent a shock wave across the state of Texas, leading to reactions of phenomenological proportions (Graves, 2012; Villafranca, 2012). The purpose of this study was to analyze these reactions through qualitative interviews with those affected by this tragedy in order to garner a more robust understanding of why people reacted in such far-reaching ways. This study revealed a strong connection to Horton and Wohl’s (1956) theory of parasocial interaction, confirming assumptions that fairgoers maintained a one-sided relationship with Big Tex for many years. Additional post-hoc findings are also discussed, including relationship to Bormann’s (1982) symbolic convergence theory, Tajfel’s (1982) social identity theory, and the scarcity principle (Cialdini, 2009; Hobofoll, 2001).

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