Monday Blog 8: YouTube and Celebrity

“You May Know Me From YouTube: (Micro)-Celebrity in Social Media” by Marwick.

Marwick points out that even though fame has been around for centuries, celebrity is inextricably a concept related to media. The diverse social media technologies have enabled both famous and non-famous people to generate a specific type of online personas, which emanate a bigger-than-life aura and also invoke a feeling of intimacy and candidness with their real or imagined audiences.

Celebrity has become a diverse concept, thanks to the contemporary shift from broadcast to participatory media. First, “traditional” celebrities can detour agents and managers to create their accessible, amiable online personas. Displaying pieces of their personal lives creates an interactive impression on the audiences, while receiving a direct Tweet from a celebrity transforms the onlooker experience into an interpersonal mediate interaction. Therefore, “traditional” celebrities embrace social media to fortify the emotional tie between them and their fans. Secondly, micro-celebrities emerge on social media. Through a self-presentation as if they were public personas consumed by spectators, the ordinary people strategically appealed to followers and treated followers as fans. Marwick notes that micro-celebrity practitioners might have a small number of followers but their strategy is almost identical with that of traditional celebrities on social media. She also observes that the micro-celebrity practice varies depending on social media context, particularly the technical affordances. Instagram micro-celebrities, for instance, are good-looking people or people who flaunt “status symbols like luxury goods,” since Instagram allows users to upload mobile photos and comment on them. Some micro-celebrities manage to summon enough followers to support themselves through their online creative activities while remaining unknown to the mainstream media, which makes these micro-celebrities a unique subcultural group. Marwick suggests that micro-celebrity practitioners adopt a popular subjectivity that resembles the conventionally famous. Celebrity as a concept is given new form by the advent of social media. It becomes a set of strategies and techniques that can be performed by anyone. Marwick also distinguishes the two different concepts of celebritization and celebritification. The former refers to the social influences of celebrity phenomenon, the latter, the transformation of an unexceptional individual into a celebrity. Celebritization is manifested through the demotic turn, or the populist democracy, meaning that a new situation is created where ordinary people are made famous, stars made personable.


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