Slice of life in a live and wired masquerade: playful prosumption as identity work and performance in an identity college Bilibili

Chen, Zhen Troy (2020) Slice of life in a live and wired masquerade: playful prosumption as identity work and performance in an identity college Bilibili. Global Media and China, 5 (3). pp. 319-337. ISSN 2059-4364

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This article investigates Chinese urban youth’s mediated ‘slice of life’ and playful encounters as part of their identity construction and performance work on Bilibili, one of China’s most influential video-sharing social media sites mediating anime, comics, games and novels. Using a mix-method approach of digital ethnography, participant observation, interviews and data visualisation, this article examines fans’ hermeneutic practices through anime, comic, game and novel prosumption, exemplified by danmaku: ‘bullet screen’, barrage-like comments overlaid on videos. This article argues that Bilibili works as an ‘identity college’ for fans to perform various roles and explore their hybrid identities in a social-hermeneutic engagement process. In particular, the function of anonymous danmaku comments will be closely analysed as it offers a quasi-real-time engagement experience for fans and helps shape fans’ social self. Following a symbolic interactionist tradition, Mead’s ‘generalised other’ and Goffman’s dramaturgical theory are contextualised in the Chinese socio-cultural milieu where fans’ identity performance is regarded as masquerade. Departing from the moral panic rhetoric that Generation Z is ‘amused to death’, becoming ‘infantile and animalised’, or even enslaved by their desires and capable only of ‘cold intimacies’, the findings of this explorative study present a more complex understanding of Chinese youth’s identity work through participatory social media use and networked fandom.

Item Type: Article
Keywords: Anime; comics; games and novels; Bilibili; danmaku; human becomings; identity performance; Otaku; social and transitional self; social media; symbolic interactionism; youth culture
Schools/Departments: University of Nottingham Ningbo China > Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences > School of International Communications
Identification Number:
Depositing User: Wu, Cocoa
Date Deposited: 12 Oct 2020 03:34
Last Modified: 12 Oct 2020 03:34

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