The term ‘micro-celebrity’ has come into play since the rise of social media platforms, offering anyone who is active users of Instagram, Facebook, Youtube, twitter and blogging sites the chance to fall under the celebrity umbrella. The term ‘celebrity’ is the ability to back yourself as an investment and create a likeable persona that builds a solid reputation. Highlighting the key word here, persona, which if presented successfully can be ‘turned into a commodity’ (Marwick & Boyd 2011, p. 140). You can be whoever you like when you jump on the internet, and one way or the other, the persona you share online is often fictionalised to please yourself and others.
Colleen Ballinger: amateur comedian turned Youtube star turned Netflix star is the creator and face of the fictional character Miranda Sings, an intolerable, talentless young 16-year-old girl who ironically cannot sing at all, and that’s the point. The outrageously tone-deaf persona who has flat hair, wears badly applied bright red lipstick and flannel skirts and devours ice cream like no one else has gained over one billion views on the Miranda Sings Youtube channel which currently has over 4.5 million subscribers. The keyboard warriors who we are all so afraid of helped evolve the Miranda Sings character, Ballinger stated: “I would do whatever the haters said they didn’t like; They’d say, ‘I don’t like your lipstick,’ so I’d put on more.”.
With her brother’s help, Ballinger’s wrote Haters Back Off and was able to pitch the idea to Netflix based on the wide fan base and popular reputation she had learnt on Youtube. Netflix was convinced by the story and released it last year in October.
Ballinger is just one example of how the social network paradigm takes the passive consumer to producer. There is now the opportunity for anyone to create and promote yourself, or perhaps some else entirely, and call yourself a celebrity.
- Marwick, A & Boyd, D 2011, ‘To See and Be Seen: Celebrity Practice on Twitter’, The International Journal of Research into New Media Technologies, vol. 17, no. 2, pp. 139-158.