Digital Exotica: The politics and praxis of internet celebrity from East Asia to beyond

Internet celebrities are a valuable lens through which we can understand the makings of a society. Above and beyond the mere analysis of fame and the attention economy, such highly conspicuous yet understudied aspects of the youth digital labor market provide insights into self-entrepreneurship, cultural branding, and generational innovation in an increasingly technocratic society. However, most research from around the world continues to apply Anglo-centric theories to localized case studies, regardless of appropriateness or fit. From Psy’s Gangnam Style, to photo-editing app MeituXiuxiu, to Piko-Taro’s PPAP, this paper assess the most prominent threads of viral media and internet celebrity originating from East Asia in the last three years, and how such incidents are represented by global popular media. The analysis presents crucial groundwork for re-theorizing internet celebrity studies, paying heed to cultural contexts, interrogating ethnocentrism in viral culture, and questioning media framing of ‘the Other’ in the age of clickbait.

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For conference paper: Abidin, Crystal. 2018. “Digital Exotica: The politics and praxis of internet celebrity from East Asia to beyond.” 12th International ACS Crossroads in Cultural Studies Conference, Shanghai. August 12-15, 2018.