From fashion Instagrammers in Australia, YouTube gamers in Sweden, and beauty bloggers in the UK, to mukbang eaters in South Korea, zhibowanghong in China, and parody Tweeters in India, the face of internet celebrity is rapidly diversifying and evolving. Digital culture on social media and mainstream celebrity culture on traditional media are also weaving into each other, such that breakout stars from one-hit viral videos are able to parlay their transient fame into full-time careers, while ailing legacy media formats are learning to brandjack vernacular participatory cultures. Drawing on traditional and digital anthropological research on internet celebrity since 2010 across East Asia and Scandinavia, in this talk I historicize how fame online organically develops or is intentionally generated through exclusivity, exoticism, exceptionalism, and everydayness. I lay out a framework for assessing internet celebrity and its parasitic and symbiotic relationships with legacy media, through a sample taxonomy comprising Eyewitness virality, Meme personalities, Spotted and groomed investments, Crowd-puller cameos, and Weaponized microcelebrity. This talk is adapted from the forthcoming book, Internet Celebrity: Understanding Fame Online, to be published by Emerald Publishing in 2018.
For the seminar: Abidin, Crystal. 2018. “Internet celebrities and the mainstream press in the age of viral media.” CCAT Seminar Series, Perth. January 22, 2018.