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I Can Make You a (Net) Celebrity Overnight: Fan Production and Participatory Culture in Online Reality Shows

Media in Transition 5.0, Cambridge, MA, May 2007

34 Pages Posted: 14 Jul 2011  

Alice E. Marwick

Data & Society Research Institute

Date Written: May 1, 2007

Abstract

Online versions of reality shows pit users against each other, following the conventions of television franchises like American Idol and Project Runway. An outgrowth of the popularity of both reality television and internet fandom, online reality contests are fan-driven and made possible by free publishing tools such as Google Video, YouTube, Flickr and DeviantArt. These contests, like Google Idol and LiveJournal’s Next Top Model (LNTM), comprise a new, hybrid genre of fan production that mimics the rules and structure of reality television programs, while encouraging participant creativity. While these competitions draw from conventions of specific programs, their participants are no longer “audiences” or even “fans” in a strict sense; rather, they are micro-media producers themselves. I argue that online reality competitions, together with other hybrid forms such as machinima, anime music videos and filk music, not only contribute to our understanding of participatory culture, but should fundamentally alter media studies concepts of the audience.

Keywords: participatory culture, YouTube, reality television, audience theory, fandom

Suggested Citation

Marwick, Alice E., I Can Make You a (Net) Celebrity Overnight: Fan Production and Participatory Culture in Online Reality Shows (May 1, 2007). Media in Transition 5.0, Cambridge, MA, May 2007. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1884386

Alice E. Marwick (Contact Author)

Data & Society Research Institute ( email )

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United States

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