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This article undertakes an analysis of QAnon marketing and metaphysics through a holistic lens of mediatization theory and medium theory. It proposes a means of understanding the movement as an example of mediatization in the sense of a social environment in which behavior comes to resemble the logic of the media, and mediatization in the sense of an institution—that is, the Q movement as a media entity operating as a social agent in the world at large. It will be argued that the specific character of these mediatizations comes about partly—and perhaps largely—as a consequence of the technical affordances of key digital platforms through which QAnon conspiracy culture spreads. The marketing of the QAnon faith-brand is both strategic and decentralized. It comes about as both the result of conscious planning by key figures within the movement and the emergent consequence of countless would-be marketers’ efforts (both true believers and cynics). The speed, anonymity, and ephemerality of the 8chan and 8kun imageboards favor the cryptic, rapid-fire messages which characterized Q’s writing. The collective anonymity and anonymous collectivity fostered by the design and engineering of online messageboards like 8chan and 8kun () likewise fostered a social environment of mass anonymous exegesis. Simultaneously, the entrepreneurial design and engineering (and ideology) of social media platforms intersect with this anonymous collectivity to produce a class of “Q-fluencers,” individuals who market the QAnon conspiracy theory, its politics and metaphysics, as a lifestyle brand—and who market themselves as Q-based brand-personalities. Through this analysis, this article aims to shed light on the socio-technical conditions out of which Q arose and to critique the assumptions of digital ideology which produce technologies and use-behaviors amenable to extremist swindles such as QAnon.

In: Journal of Religion, Media and Digital Culture

Abstract

This article argues that, in promoting Mars colonization, SpaceX founder Elon Musk’s marketing strategies effectively tap into powerful and culturally resonant Christian-inflected, otherworldly, apocalyptic millennial tropes embedded in American culture. SpaceX’s messaging engages in a second-order appropriation of entwined Christian, colonial, frontierist, and imperialist themes that saturate works of astrocolonial science fiction. Musk and many of his followers are devoted fans of these works and draw inspiration from their endemic romanticized, utopian, space expansionist narratives in order to fuel the project of Mars colonization. In deploying popular marketing techniques, such as “manufactured urgency,” “perceived obsolescence,” “scarcity marketing,” “exploding offers,” and “argument dilution,” Musk prophetically stresses the existential urgency of planetary exodus. As Mars gets rebranded as “Earth 2.0,” the strategic use of apocalyptic “Mars as New Earth” visual and verbal rhetoric activates troubling dynamics that effectively legitimize siphoning off Earth’s remaining fragile resources in order to feed the colonial and corporate interests of a technocratic billionaire elite. This article dissects the religio-cultural providential resonances of otherworldly escape and manifest destiny evoked in Mars colonization marketing, while urging public media interventions into that marketing’s grossly misleading messaging.

In: Journal of Religion, Media and Digital Culture
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In: Journal of Religion, Media and Digital Culture

Abstract

This special issue probes the ways in which religion and marketing hybrids are flourishing in the digital age. The powerful partnership of marketing and religion magnetically attracts consumers to products both secular and sacred. Popular media have increasingly noticed this phenomenon, but it warrants more serious and concerted attention from the academy. Our article contributors consequently explore the religio-cultural and media implications of what is a two-sided phenomenon: marketing religion as a product and marketing products as religion.

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In: Journal of Religion, Media and Digital Culture

Abstract

Using a feminist critical discourse analysis, this article examines modest dress stylist Hakeemah Cummings’ Instagram posts from December 2019 to July 2021 to show how she constructs the image of the “modern Muslim woman.” Cummings represents a postfeminist woman who believes it is possible to have it all—a successful career and a happy family, all while looking beautiful and being modest. As an influencer, she markets this image of the “modern Muslim woman” to her followers on Instagram, showing them that they too can have a similar life if they consume particular products and perform certain actions. I argue that Cummings has expanded the definition of the “modern Muslim woman” to include a commitment to racial justice, following the Prophetic model of supporting marginalized community. Rather than dismantling the “modern Muslim woman” image, which traditionally excludes Black women, she expands the image to center Black women and Black issues.

In: Journal of Religion, Media and Digital Culture

Abstract

At the end of the nineteenth century, revolutions in button technology, campaign, finance, and the make-up and role of religion in American society, justified the use of, the button to appeal to voters of different communities, even religious communities, broadly speaking. At the end of the twentieth century, revolutions in digital technology, campaign finance, and the place and role of religion in American culture again, transformed how U.S. presidential campaign buttons represented religion. The first transformations facilitated the commodification of the votes, justifying the expenditure, of large amounts of money on media technology to secure them. The second, transformations facilitated the commodification of the candidates, justifying the use of, technology and religion to raise funds for the campaign. Rather than serving as the, signpost to identify the voter, religion became the message to attract the consumer.

In: Journal of Religion, Media and Digital Culture
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Abstract

This article examines the lack of transparent labeling for Genetically Modified (gm) foods to show how the marketing of biotechnology obscures the relationship between the production and consumption of industrial agriculture. On the side of production, biotech corporations directly market gm seeds to farmers, to promote brand loyalty and protect proprietary claims. On the side of consumption, however, the biotech industry resists labeling gm ingredients of food products. The article argues that the producer/consumer split in gm food marketing is part of a broader American secularism that circulates a hidden religion of industrial biotechnology within cultural symbols of consumer freedom, personal choice, and moral goodness.

In: Journal of Religion, Media and Digital Culture