BCM241

The Specifics: My Ethnographic Research Project

Now it is time to delve into the specifics of how I plan to conduct my ethnographic research. Firstly, I decided to focus on one beauty guru in particular, in order to easily conduct research relating to a specific fandom. I have chosen to focus on Jeffree Star, who isan American internet celebrity, makeup artist, entrepreneur, and musician. He is also the founder and owner of Jeffree Star Cosmetics, of which, he subsequently promotes on YouTube, where he has amassed more than 10 million subscribers and over 1 billion views, as of 2018.

My choice to focus on Jeffree Star was cemented when my best friend invited me to attend an event, ‘Princess Polly Live Ft. Jeffree Star’. This event was an exclusive 90-minute live beauty event, featuring international makeup icon Jeffree Star, with guest appearances by Australia’s biggest YouTube sensations Michael Finch, Sammy Robinson & Cartia Mallan. Hosted by Ash London, the on-stage performance gave beauty lovers an insight into the world of Jeffree Star with an intimate 20-minute Q&A session, along with a live panel discussion and makeup challenge. Tickets were $80 each and 236 ticket holders had the opportunity to meet & greet Jeffree Star.

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Before being invited to the event, I was not a fan of Jeffree star. Not for any particular reason, I simply had not been exposed to his YouTube videos as much as my friends had, however, I still knew who he was and was aware of his makeup brand and the type of content he produced. Thus, I thought attending the event would be a great idea for my ethnographic study.

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I was inspired by a past project in in BCM241 that focused on fandom produced by Kristin Campbell, and as such, decided to use video and audio as my platform to present my findings. When I attended the event, I took my camera along and shot vlog style clips, keeping with the theme of YouTube beauty gurus. I included clips of myself, my friends, other fans, the products and merchandise available to purchase at the event, as well as exclusive clips from the Q&A session with Jeffree Star himself, in which, he discussed his social media success, which I thought would be perfect to include in my video.

Now that I have attended the event and filmed a variety of footage that shows the type of fandom surrounding Jeffree Star, I plan to sit down and film an autoethnography to include in my video. In this autoethnography, I will observe the footage and reflect on what I saw and experienced at the Princess Polly event. I also plan to reflect on my own attitude towards Jeffree Star and the other youtubers and discuss how my views of particular influencers have changed since experiencing them in real life as opposed to online. I will also interview other fans to gauge different perspectives.

Conclusively, I will produce a vlog style video that draws conclusions based on the fandom surrounding Jeffree star, and how it is, he managed to build such a large following, by way of social media. The video will include footage from the event I attended, as well as my own opinions and observations. I will also interview my friends who attended the event who were fans of Jeffree star prior to the event, in order to find out what it is that attracts them to someone who has made a living purely by posting videos on YouTube.

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BCM241

Instappable: The Collaboration Station

Having been an avid Instagram user for a few years now, I remember the days before social media influencers were set for world domination. Now, as I scroll through Instagram of a night time, just before I fall asleep, my feed, stories and dreams are filled with collaborations between brands and influencers promoting clothing, accessories, beauty products and every material object known to man kind.

Shani Grimmond and Lily Brown promote clothing brand Beginning Boutique along with Michael Finch who also promotes tanning solution Bondi Sands. Meanwhile Tammy Hembrow promotes womens sports nutrition brand Women’s Best, photographed holding the product whilst wearing, and, thus, promoting her own activewear label, ‘Saski Collection’. Such collaborations are often times visibly labeled with the caption ‘paid partnership’, confirming that these influencers are, in fact, receiving funds for the  advertisement of these products, but, this is not always the case.

Recently, I have become increasingly interested in fashion, photography and videography and have begun to take what I post on Instagram, amongst other social media applications, a lot more seriously. As such, I noticed when I became a more prominent figure on Instagram and my online presence began to grow, like the social media influencers I follow, I too, began to receive DM’s (Direct Messages) from brands, asking me to collaborate with them.

After the initially feeling ‘oh so famous’, I quickly began to notice each brand that had reached out to me was merely offering a discount on their products, rather than a traditional collaboration, involving an exchange of goods for services. While these brands offer potential increased exposure, inclusive of gaining followers and likes, this is likely never achieved by anyone who agrees to such collaborations, as in reality, these brands are asking you to spend money on their products as well as asking you to give THEM exposure by tagging the brand in your posts allowing your followers, usually in excess of 1000 people, to become familiar with the brand.

These misleading messages make instagram users, like myself, believe that in order to gain exposure, they must collaborate with brands with a larger following than themselves. In my opinion, Instagram has become a breeding ground for con artistry. No longer is the application about self-expression, through means of the uploading of images, it is about gaining popularity, presenting false, unrealistic images of ones life to an audience, and instagram has also turned in to a collaboration station, minus the actual collaboration.

Will this stop me from continuing to use the application, taking photos specifically to post on there? Honestly, probably not.

 

BCM111

Homogenous Happy Meals

“If there is a global village, it speaks American. It wears jeans, drinks Coke, eats at the golden arches, walks on swooshed shoes, plays electric guitars, recognises Mickey Mouse, James Dean, ET, Bart Simpson, R2-D2 and Pamela Anderson.” (Gitlin 2001, p. Media Unlimited)

Americanisation is the process, whereby, Western values upheld in the US, are projected on to countries outside of the world power. A perfect example comes in the form of American fast food giant, McDonalds, which has become one of the most globally recognisable and ubiquitous corporations, in an age of increasing interconnectedness.

While the USA is not the only controlling force in the media world, the predominance of Americanisation has led to increased popularity of brands and commodities, like that of McDonalds, outside of the US. This adoption of American culture can be examined through the concept of Cultural Imperialism.

Cultural Imperialism describes how one civilisation spreads its values and ideas. Imperial domination is maintained, partly, through the dissemination of cultural products, brands and commodities. (O’Shaughnessy 2012, p. 465)

Globalisation, in particular, Cultural Imperialism, has the potential to set in motion, the homogenisation of world cultures, reducing cultural diversity in the process. Through the popularisation and diffusion of a wide range of cultural symbols, inclusive of, but, not limited to, physical objects, ideas, values and customs, the world has become increasingly amalgamated.

In, From Big Mac to Rice Burger – Globalisation: McDonald’s in Japan, Manya Koetse describes how multinational corporations such as McDonalds, are a prime example of the process of globalisation. Discussed, is the widespread popularity of the food chian, referring to the presence of McDonalds in over 118 countries worldwide.

“Whilst McDonald’s initially symbolised American culture (or rather, symbolised how the US was perceived), it has now become part of many countries ‘local’ culture. I would rather refer to this as ‘glocal’; a concept to illustrate the intermingling of the global and the local. McDonald’s has become indigenised by many cultures across the globe.”

Globally, there is an omnipresent tension concerning the loss of cultural diversity and identity, due to the increasing Westernisation of the world. The fear that traditional cultures are being destroyed by the flow of capital, in the form of currency, stock, and commodities, like that of McDonalds, is a popular point of view. In concurrence, many believe that the intrusion of Western culture is increasing the glorification of values such as materialism and consumerism, which are believe to be detrimental to traditional culture and customs.

Thus, there is debate concerning the process of Westernisation, that poses questions as to whether this is a positive or negative occurrence. Is the possibility of interconnectedness and the success of the ‘Global Village’ more important than preserving traditional culture and the heterogenisation of countries around the world? Should we be fighting against Westernisation or embracing it as a form of conglomeration?