I’ve added a draft version of “To See and Be Seen: Celebrity Practice on Twitter,” a paper I wrote with danah boyd last summer which will be published in Convergence sometime next year.
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, publically 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.
Please note that this is not the final version. But it is very close to it– we didn’t have too many edits with our peer reviewers– and hopefully it will be useful for those of you studying celebrity and/or Twitter.
This paper was a lot of fun to work on, and it inspired a great deal of the work on micro-celebrity that appeared in my dissertation. My case studies are Miley Cyrus, Mariah Carey, and Perez Hilton. Miley was an especially hilarious person to study as she often dragged her various Disney starlet friends and family members into her Twitter arguments. I was quite sad when she retired from Twitter via YouTube video.
Marwick, A. and boyd, danah (Forthcoming, in final review). “To See and Be Seen: Celebrity Practice on Twitter.” Convergence.