I can’t believe it’s already the end of September. This month has been hectic but fulfilling.
I finally attended my PhD Convocation ceremony, 13 months after I had submitted my thesis and seven months after I had passed. (Yes the grading did take that long!) I still have mixed feelings about graduation because four years of research was literally casually commemorated in a five-second walk on stage to shake the hand of an important-looking academic in front of a bunch of strangers. To me, the real fun was the honour of getting to graduate with my good friends – it was a bumper crop of five anthropology PhDs this time – and spending precious time with all the people I miss and love. So yes, all the officialdom of postgrad life is done and dusted, I have been Lord Voldemort once more, and my DECRA clock has begun!
I have a new journal article out in Media International Australia that you can read here.
One popular misconception of young people’s use of social media is that they always aim for maximum publicity and attention. In this paper, I show how
1) Fashion Instagrammers practice advertorial dissemination, aggregation, and instigation for maximum exposure
2) Everyday Instagrammers balance hyper-visibility and under-visibility to avoid over-exposure
3) Visibility labour is “the work enacted to flexibly demonstrate gradients of self-conspicuousness in digital or physical spaces depending on intention or circumstance for favourable ends”.
This month, I presented at two conferences in the UK remotely via Skype. Here are the abstracts. If you’re conducting research in similar areas, I’d love to chat.
Abidin, Crystal. 2016. “Romance as digital estates: Influencers’ choreographed engagements, curated breakups, and couple branding.” Something old, something new: the wedding spectacle across contemporary media cultures, Media and Gender research group, University of Leicester, Leicester. September 16, 2016.
Influencers are everyday, ordinary Internet users who accumulate a relatively large following on blogs and social media through the textual and visual narration of their personal lives and lifestyles, engage with their following in “digital” and “physical” spaces, and monetize their following by integrating “advertorials” into their blog or social media posts and making physical appearances at events. Influencer commerce debuted in Singapore in 2005, resulting in cohorts of Influencers and their followers growing up and experiencing life course milestones together. What has emerged as Influencers progressed from student life to motherhood is the phenomenon I term “public coupling”, or the hyper-visibilization and exoticization of “coupling narratives” in order to produce the couple as a unit. In the process, public visibilities of romance on blogs and social media have become digital estates on which Influencers are able to integrate advertorials into the trajectory of their relationship. This chapter investigates romance as digital estates in the ways Influencers are practicing displays of choreographed proposals and engagements, and even curating the darker side of public coupling such as breakups and divorces, in a bid to shape their coupling into a viable Influencer brand.
Abidin, Crystal. 2016. “h8ers gon’ h8: Influencers, Self-parody videos, and Commercial renarrativizing.” YouTube Conference, Middlesex University, London. September 23-24, 2016.
As internet microcelebrities with followers numbering from the low ten thousands to the high hundred thousands, Influencers in Singapore are no strangers to hate, hating, and haters. Many have even fronted the mainstream press and dominated headlines on numerous instances for various controversies. Amidst lifestyle Influencers proliferate on blogs and social media who dedicate textual and photographic posts addressing haters, Influencers on YouTube emphasize the video and audio allure of their digital estates to enact self-parody, self-deprecation, and self-reflexive responses, such that these performances have become a genre of art in and of themselves. While such renarrativizing attempts are frequently playful redemptions in the wake of public humiliation, often they are also deliberately commercial endeavours intended to reignite haters’ attention to boost viewership. In this paper, I draw on ethnographically-informed content analysis of a group of YouTube Influencers in Singapore to examine the genres of self-parody videos being produced, the renarrativizing work they perform, and the commerce entailed in these initiatives. By investigating such forms of subversive frivolity, I appraise the irony and value of the parlance ‘h8ers gon’ h8’.
Finally, October ushers in the annual Association of Internet Researchers conference *throws confetti* This is fast becoming one of my favourite academic rituals, my playground, and home because of all the amazing humans I’ve grown to love and with whom I want to grow old.
I’ll be presenting papers in four panels with some pretty amazing scholars:
“Gross is the new like: Allure, visceral camp, and carnivalesque commerce in grotesque microcelebrity.” in PA-08 Representation, Thu, 06Oct16, 1400-1530hrs, HU1.103. A version of this paper is available here.
“Sorry not sorry: Influencers, shamelebrity, and para-apologetic transgressions.” in PA-17 Make/Break, Fri, 07Oct16, 1100-1230hrs, HU1.103.
“Queer Influencers: Personal illustrations amidst repressive sexuality education.” in PA-32 Sexuality, Sat, 08Oct16, 1400-1530hrs, HU1.103.
The full conference schedule is here.
I will also be sharing conference snippets on-the-go via Snapchat, so see you at @wishcrys.