Charlie is so ‘English’-like: nationality and the branded celebrity person in the age of YouTube

Charlie is so ‘English’-like: nationality and the branded celebrity person in the age of YouTube

The YouTube celebrity is a novel social phenomenon. YouTube celebrities have implications for the social and cultural study of celebrity more generally, but in order to illustrate the features of vlogging celebrity and its wider dimensions this article focuses upon one case study – Charlie McDonnell and his video ‘How to be English’. The premise of YouTube – ‘Broadcast yourself’ – begs the question ‘but what self?’. The article argues that the YouTube celebrity is able to construct a celebrity persona by appealing to aspects of identity, such as nationality, and using them as a mask(s) to perform with. By situating Charlie’s ‘How to be English’ in the context of establishing celebrity, the article argues that the processes of celebrification and ‘self-branding’ utilise the power of identity myths to help assist the construction of a celebrity persona. Use of masks and myths allows for one to develop various aspects of their persona into personas. One such persona for Charlie is his ‘Englishness’. As the social experience of ‘Broadcasting yourself’ necessarily asks one to turn ordinary aspects of their person into extra-ordinary qualities, Charlie’s use of Englishness allows ‘being English’ to become a mythological device to overcome the problem of ‘self-promotion’.

 

– Daniel Smith.

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