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The internet's 'transnational' boyfriend: digital (re)presentations of celebrity men

Sobande, Francesca 2021. The internet's 'transnational' boyfriend: digital (re)presentations of celebrity men. Feminist Media Studies 21 (4) , pp. 539-555. 10.1080/14680777.2021.1900312
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This article explores online (re)presentations of famous men and masculinities, and the surrounding concept of “the internet’s boyfriend”. The work examines how such discourse is shaped by global dynamics, structural racism, an “economy of visibility”, and demand for depictions of “difference.” Drawing on studies of celebrity, masculinities, marketing, and digital culture, I analyse how three famous men who are publicly desired and/or admired are (re)presented in digital spheres—memes, videos, articles, and accumulative discourse. Focusing on (re)presentations of Timothée Chalamet, Idris Elba, and Bong Joon-ho, I scrutinise how famous men are transnationally remediated in ways that can reinforce, resist, and rupture Anglo-Western normative notions of desirable masculinity. Culturally specific and hybridised ideas, identities, and ideologies that are projected onto such men online reveal the entanglements of issues concerning sexuality, (non)whiteness, exoticisation, nationality, masculinity, celebrity, and global media. Although “the internet’s boyfriend” is not always white, he is often someone who grew up in, identifies with, and is praised within, Western cultures. This article explicates how and why online (re)presentations of famous men in a transnational media landscape are couched in common narratives which include them being claimed as an (inter)national treasure, attractive to Anglophiles, and (re)presented as eccentric and exoticised Others.

Item Type: Article
Date Type: Publication
Status: Published
Schools: Journalism, Media and Culture
Publisher: Taylor & Francis (Routledge)
ISSN: 1468-0777
Date of First Compliant Deposit: 11 May 2021
Date of Acceptance: 28 February 2021
Last Modified: 09 Oct 2021 13:01

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