Digital Storytelling: It’s Britney, Bitch: Commentary on Distortion in Spears’s Use of Social Media

For Digital Storytelling:

As someone who at times seems to only exist on Twitter, I’m fascinated by the ways in which people use the platform to craft their own narratives. But I also love the off-the-beaten-path accounts – bots, parodies, and what I like to call commentary.

I spend a lot of time looking at this third type, namely through examples of @WillMcAvoyACN and @SwiftOnSecurity. I stand by my point that these are not parody accounts. In the latter, as much as they’re prenteding to be Taylor Swift, they’re not going through the daily motions or documenting on her activities. Instead, it’s almost like she was dropped in an alternative dimension – same music, same image, but just talking about tech security instead of herself. Taylor’s persona, which was much more present at the beginning of the account than it is now, served as a gimmick to interest people in the content. McAvoy is a bit different – it’s a fictional persona – but it still prioritizes content over defined character. In his interactions with fans as well as real-life reporters, McAvoy serves as a commentary of journalism by playing through the persona as well as commenting on its usage to hold people accountable for the things they say.

So, as I wrote on Slack:

Inspired by the Twitter account SwiftOnSecurity, I’m looking to build a Twitter profile that engages/raises awareness around a keyword, but doing so through a persona that challenges or distorts the messages being presented. How does this observational view of a topic – one that a persona may have a reasonable stake in – change the ways in which we understand the topic? And in what ways do the tools available on Twitter – GIFs, photos, hashtags, polls, locations – distort or shape the ways in which we understand the project? Thinking around questions from Chun and Parise, why do we invest in this information even when the likelihood of the person behind it false? In what ways does this allow us to imagine the persona and the issues complexly? Can we explore these complexities in a project like this? In what ways do we see a persona like SwiftOnSecurity highlighting or hiding the relationship? Ideally, I’ll be looking at both my construction and reception by an audience (depending on what kind of audience is generated) to talk about how distortion functions in this environment.

Read the rest here.

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