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Monday, April 9, 2007

Understanding our Brave New World: Myspace, your space, whose space is it?

I'm not really a big fan of Oprah. This is not because I agree with rapper 50 Cent, who defiantly (and perhaps, somewhat ignorantly)- proclaimed that she sold out. I don't believe that she sold out. But anyway, that's not the point.

The point is that I should look at Oprah more often, despite the association I make in my mind between her talk-show and the pastime of middle-aged housewives. As I glimpsed a snippet of an episode entitled "America Speaks Back" sometime last week while channel surfing, something that was said really struck a chord. They were speaking about celebrity, fame, or something of the sort, when a psychologist made a statement that does not seem so prolific now as it did then- but I'll repeat it anyway. "In my time, celebrities were respected because they actually did something. I mean, just look at Paris Hilton!"

Wow, I remember thinking. He's right.

But of course, you knew that already. If you're reading this zine, chances are that you've already become disenchanted with the way 'mainstream society' perceives celebrity. Perhaps you see the media as a gigantic conspiracy; a way to extort more money from the common man. Perhaps you don't care about Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie's baby, nor do you care about what the next celebrity power-couple name will sound like (Personally, I'm waiting for Petelee- a neat portmanteau* celebrating Ashlee Simpson and Pete Wentz's hooking up, as seen on I suppose I'll have to keep on waiting). Perhaps you do.

Then, I thought about one of my most favourite time-wasters in the world (after Facebook)- Myspace, and an article I read in the latest Venus.

The article was about the rise in fame of e-celebrities- you know, the people whose profiles receive more views that the most ambitious pre-teen could ever dream of. People like Jac Vanek, and Audrey Kitching, and various other scenesters. Obviously, this seems to be the 'new' kind of celebrity, built to suit our technologically-saturated society. But what is it that these people do?

Why is it that so many girls want to be them, and actually pretend to by assuming their identities? Just take a look at how many profiles/ fan-pages there are dedicated to these people- it's mind-boggling, really. I had the pleasure (question mark?) of browsing through a few, where the only things fans of aforementioned celebrities seem to admire about their hero/ines are "their friends" and the way they "dress". Excuse me while I lapse into msn-speak, but this warrants an OMG.

Girls (and youth in general) have always been impressionable, as they try to create their own identities and while making their way to adulthood. The interesting thing is that it's no longer the Britneys or the Hilary Duffs or even the Avrils of the world that are making the impression. It's women who fit a tougher aesthetic- chicks covered in tattoos and piercings; girls who are too cool for television or teen magazines (though, ironically, we may be seeing more of them in said publications because everyone likes to cash in on a new teen trend) and Suicide Girls themselves. Perhaps, I may go as far to say that Myspace has spawned a new Internet subculture- one that is quickly worming its way into popularity and acceptance. Is it a good thing that girls who don't exactly fit what people seem to ordinarily consider 'beautiful' are becoming more popular? Or, is our concept of 'beautiful' and 'cool' simply changing, while our same sense of superficiality and materialism stays ever present? I mean, girls are obsessed with Audrey Kitching's friends, for chrissakes. As well as the fact that she's dated members of emo bands. Did I mention that already? Well- boo-ya! I just did.

I'm not saying that people like Jac Vanek and Audrey Kitching do nothing to improve our society. I perhaps implied it, but it's something that still needs to be worked out in my mind. Vanek's simply a photography student, still in college, who took pictures of herself because she thought that she was her best subject. She, according to the article in Venus, never imagined that her profile would get millions of views. And I understand that- but this whole business still leaves a bitter taste in my mouth.

Consider this- Social networking sites receive more members because of prominent characters like Kitching, and Vanek, and countless others. People want to be able to see their profile pictures, become their friends, and send them messages. And, of course, these sites- who I believe receive a great deal of money from companies for advertising (correct me if I'm wrong)- realize this. Just look at ads for Buzznet (if you're not familiar, think Hi-5, or facebook, or myspace). They're trying to get members by advertising that proclaims that if you join, you can be Audrey Kitching's friend immediately. You can be in her clique; in her circle, in a manner similar to myspace's Tom. People like Vanek and Kitching are the tools being used to market such sites. Girls who, in many ways, remind me of myself.
Perhaps that is what irks me the most.
*A beautiful word that I hope was used in a grammatically correct manner.

-Amanda C.Q.- who, from now on, is spending more time watching Oprah and less time on the Internet (except for the zine, of course ;)
^Audrey Kitching. Do not know who took photo, but if you want credit/ want me to remove it, just contact me.

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Anonymous Audrey Kitching Hot said...

I think it is just the nature of evolution, the sad thing is that these girls do not even leverage much cash out of their so called fame.

April 10, 2009 at 9:56 PM  

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