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An anatomy of a YouTube meme

An anatomy of a YouTube meme Launched in 2005 as a video-sharing website, YouTube has become an emblem of participatory culture. A central feature of this website is the dazzling number of derivative videos, uploaded daily by many thousands. Using the ‘meme’ concept as an analytic tool, this article aims at uncovering the attributes common to ‘memetic videos’ – popular clips that generate extensive user engagement by way of creative derivatives. Drawing on YouTube popularity-measurements and on user-generated playlists, a corpus of 30 prominent memetic videos was assembled. A combined qualitative and quantitative analysis of these videos yielded six common features: focus on ordinary people, flawed masculinity, humor, simplicity, repetitiveness and whimsical content. Each of these attributes marks the video as incomplete or flawed, thereby invoking further creative dialogue. In its concluding section, the article addresses the skyrocketing popularity of mimicking in contemporary digital culture, linking it to economic, social and cultural logics of participation. http://www.deepdyve.com/assets/images/DeepDyve-Logo-lg.png New Media & Society SAGE

An anatomy of a YouTube meme

New Media & Society , Volume 14 (2): 17 – Mar 1, 2012

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References (56)

Publisher
SAGE
Copyright
© SAGE Publications 2011
ISSN
1461-4448
eISSN
1461-7315
DOI
10.1177/1461444811412160
Publisher site
See Article on Publisher Site

Abstract

Launched in 2005 as a video-sharing website, YouTube has become an emblem of participatory culture. A central feature of this website is the dazzling number of derivative videos, uploaded daily by many thousands. Using the ‘meme’ concept as an analytic tool, this article aims at uncovering the attributes common to ‘memetic videos’ – popular clips that generate extensive user engagement by way of creative derivatives. Drawing on YouTube popularity-measurements and on user-generated playlists, a corpus of 30 prominent memetic videos was assembled. A combined qualitative and quantitative analysis of these videos yielded six common features: focus on ordinary people, flawed masculinity, humor, simplicity, repetitiveness and whimsical content. Each of these attributes marks the video as incomplete or flawed, thereby invoking further creative dialogue. In its concluding section, the article addresses the skyrocketing popularity of mimicking in contemporary digital culture, linking it to economic, social and cultural logics of participation.

Journal

New Media & SocietySAGE

Published: Mar 1, 2012

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