‘There’s Nothing I Can Do’: Subcultural micro-celebrity, transgressive bodies and the discursive practices on YouTube
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This thesis explores the discursive practices of YouTube vlogger Eugenia Cooney and how she is able to attract large groups of audiences with her controversial content. The reason why her videos are controversial is because she is extremely thin. Lots of people are worried that she has a severe form of anorexia, but Cooney herself claims that she is just naturally this way. Due to her non-normative appearance, I argue that Cooney should be seen as a subcultural microcelebrity that uses the affordances of YouTube and several discursive techniques that allow her to commodify her so-called transgressive body. The findings of this inquiry show that her unique selling point is the mystery of the cause of her transgressive body. She deliberately creates this mystery by using clickbait titles and thumbnails which suggest that she is going to be addressing her physical appearance in her videos. As soon as the video starts, it becomes clear how she doesn’t meet the raised expectations over and over again and how she avoids talking about the real issue, while still implicitly addressing it. Furthermore, this thesis also sheds light on the discussion of the mechanisms and algorithms of the platform YouTube that are promoting and recommending extreme content. By using the right techniques, microcelebrities can actively play with this development and gain commercial and/or social capital.