Language and Societies

ANT/LIN 5320 at Wayne State University

“Hello and Welcome Back to Hell”: Linguistic Performances of Authenticity by Left-Wing YouTube Influencers

“Hello and Welcome Back to Hell”: Linguistic Performances of Authenticity by Left-Wing YouTube Influencers

Hope Kujawa

The performance of authenticity as it relates to traditional celebrity status has been extensively studied, and to a lesser extent, so has the authenticity of new types of entertainers who utilize the Internet as their primary platform, such as YouTubers. Authenticity is tied to the performers’ relationship to the audience, and in an era where anyone can produce their own videos, those who wish to succeed must carefully walk the line between being an amateur and an expert, a concept described by scholars such as Aske Kammer and Aditi Bhatia. This study draws on this and other analyses to investigate the strategies that left-wing political YouTube influencers use to simultaneously build rapport with an absent audience, create and promote their image as a brand, and persuade viewers of their political positions. Six YouTube videos from three influencers were viewed, transcribed, and analyzed, which revealed three groups of tactics: casual and humorous language, emotional vulnerability, and openness about the video-making process. These show some similarities with and evolved out of tactics seen in television news and documentaries, but overall indicate a break from traditional methods of building trust. They reflect the necessity of performing amateur expertise and “being oneself” on camera in order to influence political discourse in the twenty-first century, both on the Internet and beyond.

April 20, 2022 - Posted by | abstract

1 Comment »

  1. This is an interesting topic. Your abstract indicates that left-wing influencers do not want to be seen as experts, which is confusing to me. If I was looking for information I would want it to come from a factual and credible source, which generally means it comes from an expert on the specific topic.

    Comment by Casey Carter | April 28, 2022 | Reply

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