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In: Disassembling the Celebrity Figure

Today’s commercial celebrity music products seldom remain untouched by audience reappropriation. The 2012 hit ‘Gangnam Style’ is a prime example of this, with approximately two billion views and nearly 785,000 parodies on YouTube that include such diverse offerings as a traditional Dutch Sinterklass (Christmas) song adapted to this catchy melody and the Chinese dissident artist Ai Weiwei riding the invisible horse with handcuffs in his hands. Through an examination of these two ‘Gangnam Style’ parodies as multimodal (inter)textual constructs and discursive events, I propose that participation is changing the consumption of celebrity products, as both the purposes and dimensions of participatory culture are expanded by the proliferation of parodies and similar types of derivative social media practices. Audience production is no longer necessarily confined to niche-interest fan communities;1 rather, in accordance with Linda Hutcheon’s definition of modern parody, it may assume mimetic features by generating derivative contents with a wide pragmatic range, and attitudes toward the original text ranging from ridicule and neutral playfulness to appreciation.2 Besides the parodied text itself, the evaluative edge can also target ultra-text voices by recontextualizing discursive resources from celebrity commodities to localized communicative practices.3 Thus, the fear of the homogenizing effects of Big Contents is not necessarily exorcized by means of resistance, where alternative media, user-generated contents, and citizen journalism are thought to overturn industrial media systems. Instead, the recycling and recontexualization of Big Contents challenges traditional authorship in commodified aesthetic production. Parodic participation also renders celebrity products ‘functionally’ consumable by contributing weapons and voice for civic discursive practices.

In: Living in the Limelight: Dynamics of the Celebrity Experience