Posts Tagged ‘Lady Gaga’

Spreading the cult body

marzo 17, 2011

Research presented at Networking Images – Approches interdisciplinaires de la notion de réseaux, IRCAV – Paris 3 – Sourbonne Nouvelle – 17 – 18 mars 2011.



In the “convergence culture” new hybrid and participatory forms of audiovisual production are emerging. Cultural industries design “media brand” with the aim to engage consumers in “affective economies” (Jenkins, 2006) and stimulate the emergence of “grassroots marketing” (Ito, 2008). In the digital public spaces, information is persistent, searchable, replicable, and scalable (boyd, 2008). Therefore media brand can reach a huge visibility thanks to the works of consumers that, sharing branded products online, work as grassroots promoters and generate a viral process. However, different to the “viral” model, the “spreadable” model (CCC, 2009) assumes that fans doesn’t simply share contents, but they also adapt, transform and rework the professional produced material, creating derivative works (video remix, fanart, fansubs… ) to fulfil they expressive and social needs. It is thus important to investigate how fans add value to the original content and how they create now expressive forms.
How does producers design spreadable contents to engage consumers in grassroots promotional activities? Which hybrid audiovisual forms are emerging? With the aim to answer to those questions I’ve conducted a comparative analysis of YouTube videos that are derivative from two different mainstream cultural products: the US Tv series Glee and the Lady Gaga’ music video Telephone. I’ve chose those case studies because they have been international success during spring 2010, also thanks to the grassroots work of fans. In fact, the professional produced text have been appropriated and reworked by gLeeks (i.e., fans of Glee) and Little Monsters (i.e., fans of Lady Gaga) that shared derivative videos online. Furthermore they are both example of the convergence process that surround cultural industries: Glee is a teen-dramedy that integrate elements of the “self-reflexive musical” genre, instead Telephone is a music video that is part of a series of short films. Comparing Glee’ and Telephone’ amateur re-performances, I’ve identified four main categories of grassroots creativity: (i) parody (spoof), (ii) musical (fans and semi-professional musicians re-perform the original song during “re-singings”, cover, live medley, DJ remixes e choreography), (iii) fashion (make up artist and fans appropriate the image of the star to create “make up tutorial”) and (iv) fan cultures (vidding, street team, fansubbing, …). Glee and Telephone thus stimulate the users’ creativity in term of ironic criticism, music performance, fashion performances and fandom.
I argue that Glee and Telephone are both media brand that have been designed with the aim to engage consumers in an affective economy, exploiting the dynamics of cult text and stardom (Hills, 2002). A complex word full of intersexual reference and quotable elements have been created. Glee and Telephone gives to the fans “textual hooks” (Burgess, 2008) that can be appropriated and reworked. In particular, producers intentionally construct “cult bodies” that explicitly incorporate previous media icons such as pop music idols and cinematic references. Fans are thus stimulate to appropriate the second order of cult bodies, creating another level of performativity that are the tertiary text. YouTube users thus re-create with emulative or parodic intent the professional produced text, spreading the brand itself.


Dancing in the stardom: recording industry and grassroots marketing

ottobre 11, 2010

Paper presented at the 3rd edition of the ESA Research Network Sociology of Culture mid-term Conference, Milan – Università Bocconi – 7th – 9th October 2010.

New media changed the relationship between the recording industry and fans. The Internet allow fans to share copyrighted music in p2p and Web 2.0 platforms. Recording industry reacted mainly with “prohibitionist” strategies, while cultural scholars argue that a “collaborationist” approach is needed with the aim to create an “affective economy”. In this paper, I describe the strategies of major labels to create a fanbase of grassroot promoters. During an ethnographic research, I’ve identified different forms of grassroots marketing (“street team”, “flash mob”, “mission”). I argue that labels try to harness “participative stardom”: a “music star” is created thanks to transmedia strategies (online presence and Tv appearances during media events and talent shows), then labels outsource promotional activities to fans rewarding them with branded products and the opportunity to meet artists.

Full Paper available in the SSRN eLibrary:

Telephone mania: musical performances and derivative video on YouTube

ottobre 2, 2010

Presented at Workshop on Advanced Research Methods – Warm. Sep. 30th 2010 – Department of Communication Studies – University of Urbino “Carlo Bo”.