Opening up SCMS 2015 was a panel on Queer Media featuring Concordia’s Brandon Arroyo, alongside NYU’s Bruno Guarana, Indiana U’s Mark Hain, and Curran Nault of University of Texas. Complementing great presentations from an array of media contexts, Arroyo’s insightful “Chris Crocker and the Making of a Transindividual Celebrity” considers LGBT identity issues through an analysis of internet blogger/celebrity Chris Crocker, infamous for the “Leave Britney Alone” viral video that began circulating YouTube a few years ago.
Beginning with the question, “Who is Chris Crocker?” Arroyo’s presentation argued that Crocker constructs an identity that blurs the line between performance, truth, and sincerity. Crocker’s multifaceted identity does not fit within the cohesive social narrative in which LGBT individuals are commonly situated. The internet personality’s creative output generates further questions surrounding Crocker’s ‘true’ identity rather than provide any insights. While one video features Crocker distressed over Britney Spears, others show him articulately develop an argument in less extreme ways. Arroyo provided some further examples, including a video featuring a semi-nude Crocker lip-synching and dancing to a Justin Bieber song. How can we take these disjointed affective states into consideration within contemporary identity politics? Arroyo’s presentation partially answered this question, arguing that Crocker’s constant movement between roles is key to the “transindividual,” for whom individuation is the continual rhythm of becoming.
Brandon Arroyo’s insightful presentation generated productive discussion and was unique in the panel for its consideration of the internet and related platforms. His research allows us to rethink identity politics and helps further situate queer studies within new media contexts. We look forward to seeing further progress!
– words by Ben Browning