To see and be seen: Celebrity practice on Twitter

From Convergence: The International Journal of Research into New Media Technologies

This article examines the use of Twitter by famous people to conceptualize celebrity as a practice. Networked Media is changing celebrity culture, the ways that people relate to celebrity images, how celebrities are produced, and how celebrity is practiced. Social media technologies let people connect by creating and sharing content.

Through analysis of tweets from 237 highly followed Twitter users, this study finds that celebrity practice involves presenting a seemingly authentic, intimate image of self while meeting fan expectations and maintaining important relationships. This research uses 3 case studies – pop star Mariah Carey, teen queen Miley Cyrus and gossip columnist Perez Hilton these individuals, demonstrate how celebrity is successfully practiced when it provides the illusion of ‘backstage’, giving the impression of uncensored glimpses into the lives of the very famous. Fans may believe that twitter acts as an equalizer or democratizing discourse. As celebrity practitioners must harness the ability to maintain ongoing affiliations and connections with their fans, rather than seem uncaring or unavailable, Twitter creates a new expectation of intimacy.

Abstract

Social media technologies let people connect by creating and sharing content. We examine the use of Twitter by famous people to conceptualize celebrity as a practice. On Twitter, celebrity is practiced through the appearance and performance of ‘backstage’ access. Celebrity practitioners reveal what appears to be personal information to create a sense of intimacy between participant and follower, publicly acknowledge fans, and use language and cultural references to create affiliations with followers. Interactions with other celebrity practitioners and personalities give the impression of candid, uncensored looks at the people behind the personas. But the indeterminate ‘authenticity’ of these performances appeals to some audiences, who enjoy the game playing intrinsic to gossip consumption. While celebrity practice is theoretically open to all, it is not an equalizer or democratizing discourse. Indeed, in order to successfully practice celebrity, fans must recognize the power differentials intrinsic to the relationship.

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Article details
Marwick, A., & boyd, D. (2011). To See and Be Seen: Celebrity Practice on TwitterConvergence: The International Journal of Research into New Media Technologies, 17(2), 139-158 DOI: 10.1177/1354856510394539

     
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