Mastery of Media: Being Famous for Nothing

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In todays media culture there are dozens and dozens of ways a person can become a celebrity. From blogging to posting videos on YouTube, the opportunities are endless, and few require the skill and talent once required to become a recognizable celebrity. As Alice Marwick and Danah Boyd explain in their study “To See and Be Seen: Celebrity Practice on Twitter” due to the technological affordances of social media networking sites, the minimum talent threshold required to be an online celebrity is particularly low. “Networked media is changing celebrity culture, the ways that people relate to celebrity images, how celebrities are produced, and how celebrity is practiced” The main element of creating fame through social media is keeping information interesting and interactive with your followers.  This concept applies to individuals who find fame through social media activity, as well as to those individuals who were celebrities in their own respects before entering the social media game. Celebrities have really caught on to just how crucial “personal” social media platform can be for a celebrities brand image, popularity and relationship to their fan base.

If you were to ask a regular social media user who the queen of social media is, there might be a few possible answers. There is one individual however who particularly stands out as the queen of all social media outlets, but in particular twitter. If you still are not sure I will give you a hint, her initials are K.K. Kim Kardashian is the reigning queen of Twitter, and social media in general is because she is arguably famous for doing absolutely nothing. Kim got her start on the radar of society through the viral social sharing of her leaked private sex tape with the singer Ray J. Normally a incident like a sex tape is not normally a turning point in an individuals professional life, but after the sex tape got Kim in the consciousness of society Kim parlayed that notoriety on to social media. Kim does indeed have a very unique talent that she particular excels in, it is not a talent that is normally recognized as one that would lead to celebrity status. Kim has incredible insight and skill for crafting her identity online through her posts on Twitter. With each tweet Kim posts, she very deliberately and purposeful selects what she wants to perform for her followers. Kim consciously crafts and manipulates her tweets to build, mold and refine her “identity”. Her choices reflect the kind of public figure she would like to be and that reflects qualities her fans can relate to. For example this tweet Kim made on March 25th shows a keen understanding of her fan base. The primary meaning of this tweet is to show Kim’s personality as somewhat of a diva who always dresses in heels as such, for many of her followers this is probably an aspirational appearance they would hope to embody. The tweet is also symotanously relatable in that many of her followers have experienced this type discomfort of uncomfortable foot ware, therefore signaling that Kim is just like us.

I used the word identity earlier in quotations earlier because on twitter,  Kim’s identity as revealed through her tweets is not quite her own true identity, but rather, as according to Marwick and Boyd, a performance of identity. Celebrities like Kardashian aim to “create a sense of closeness and familiarity between themselves and their followers. Highly followed accounts vary in performed intimacy; while some mostly broadcast information about an upcoming tour or book, others write about personal sub- jects, post exclusive content, or chat about their daily lives”. Kim actually participates in both categories of twitter users in that she frequently posts personal opinions and pics, as well as broadcasting her buisness endeavors. The reason Kim’s buisness endevours have been so well reccieved and sucessful is her insainly loyal fan base.

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This tweet from April 6 was during Kim widely publicized pregnancy. Throughout the pregnancy the media was swarming her and the supply of generated content and pictures was endless. This tweet incudes a link to Kim’s Instagram account, on which she posted this more intimate picture of her stomach for fans. Pics such as this fufill Kim’s followers desire to be friendly with her, breaking through the celebrity fan divide. This type of posting is known is a according to Marwick and Boyd an example of performative intimacy, by making her followers feel like she is sharing truly intimate feelings and moments with them.

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On Sundays, followers are accustomed to Tweets from Kim that always look something like this. Sunday evenings are when KUWTK aka Keeping Up With The Kardashians is on the E! network. Most true Kim fans tune into the broadcast regularly, but for other followers who are less devoted, as well as loyal viewers,  this reminder feels like a personal invitation. Tweets life this make it seem like Kim is very invested in her fans and wants them to see her real life.

One of Kim’s biggest attention drawing types of tweets is her more revealing physical pictures, because after all, it could be argued that Kim is most famous for her backside.

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This particularly revealing picture of Kim illustrates a few different concepts, the #nofilter is again as Marwick and Boyd would say, an example of performed intimacy  as well as performed backstage access to exclusive content. This picture is also a great example of Kim’s expert use of heterosexy which according to Amy Dobson’s article, “The ‘grotesque body’ in young women’s self presentation on MySpace” is a pervasive trend on social media where females are growing accustomed to abandoning traditional femininity and presenting themselves in overtly sexualized pornesque fashion, as Kim is in this picture with the emphasis on her bottom, breasts and charged gaze.

While many deride Kim for a litany of things from her appearance to lack of talent, one thing that can not be disputed is her impeccable skill for using Twitter to forward her brand.

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