h8ers gon’ h8: Influencers, Self-parody videos, and Renarrativizing precarity

As internet celebrities 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. Despite the stereotypes driven by popular media and folk wisdom that such Influencers are merely peddling in controversy for attention, or are fragile beings unable to withstand criticism, I argue that Influencers’ reactions to hating via self-parody videos is a self-persevering, community-building, and commercially productive exercise. 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 and constitute one of several compensatory strategies given the precarity of the industry. 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’.

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For the symposium paper: Abidin, Crystal. 2017. “h8ers gon’ h8: Influencers, Self-parody videos, and Renarrativizing stereotypes.” Minority Stereotypes in Digital Culture, UWA, Perth. December 4-5, 2017.