How does someone become famous on the internet? What does it take to capture our digital attention? While movie stars, rock gods, and other mainstream A-listers struggle to find their place in a sea of emerging technologies and platforms, a new swarm of micro celebrities and influencers has coasted into the cultural space they once filled. Riding a wave of viral content and memes, the newly-famous rule an internet where anyone can have adoring fans… for a price. They are nimble, niche, obnoxious, empowering, and sometimes disturbing.
This class explores what happens when fame is freed from the traditional intermediaries of print, television, and radio, when social media provides everyone with the tools to be their own marketing studio and PR department. It examines the transformation of celebrity, from a 19th century sales gimmick to the formidable cultural, social, and technological force it is today. Students will study a wide array of fame-related topics, from the privacy effects of trolling to the class implications of selfies. And we will engage in practices and exercises that produce real-world instances of celebrity in case we, too, wish to join the ranks of the internet famous.