PhD Communication – Spanish Ministry of Science Fellow
“There is a multiplicity of purposes, needs, and contexts that frame viewers’ roles, interpretive resources, and modes of reception. Let us not dismiss and diminish those who do not fit with our field’s current dominant tendencies”
The Fourth Wall and ‘The Wall’: GoT’s Reception in Argentina, Spain, and Germany, 2021, p. 15.
“Aside from corporate interests, the most insightful elements of reception processes must lie by users, audiences, and fans themselves and the uses and benefits they draw from them”
The Fourth Wall and ‘The Wall’: GoT’s Reception in Argentina, Spain and Germany, 2021, p. 5
García-Rapp, F. (2022)“Teaching and Learning Popular Media Cultures: Fostering enquiry journeys within the messy world of human social life”, Dialogue: The Interdisciplinary Journal of Popular Culture and Pedagogy, 9 (1), online
García-Rapp, F. (2022) “The fourth wall and ‘The Wall’: GoT’s reception in Argentina, Spain, and Germany”,Television and New Media, 23 (3), pp. 293-311
García-Rapp, F. (2021) “From the books to the screens, to the memes and beyond: Fans’ notions of Game of Thrones as an adaptation”, International Journal of Media and Cultural Politics, 17 (3), pp. 217-237.
García-Rapp, F. (2019)“Trivial and Normative? Online Fieldwork within YouTube’s Beauty Community”, Journal of Contemporary Ethnography, 48 (5), pp. 619-644
García-Rapp, F. (2018) “My Friend Bubz: Building Intimacy on YouTube’s Beauty Community”, In: Andreassen, R., Petersen, M., Harrison, K., Raun, T., “Mediated intimacies. Connectivities, relationalities and proximities“, pp. 282-295, Routledge, London
García-Rapp, F. (2017) “Come join and let’s BOND”: Authenticity and Legitimacy Building on YouTube’s Beauty community,Journal of Media Practice, 18 (2-3), pp. 120-137
García-Rapp, F. and Roca-Cuberes, C. (2017) “Being an online celebrity – Norms and expectations of YouTube’s beauty community”, First Monday, 22 (7), July Issue 2017
García-Rapp, F. (2016) “Popularity Markers on YouTube’s Attention Economy: The Case of Bubzbeauty”,Celebrity Studies, 8 (2), pp. 228-245
García-Rapp, F. (2016) “The Digital Media Phenomenon of YouTube Beauty Gurus: The Case of Bubzbeauty”,International Journal of Web Based Communities, 12 (4), pp. 360-375
Based on broader digital ethnographic research performed on YouTube, the article aims at framing issues of online popularity development through the examination of videos and user comments. To explore the phenomenon of beauty gurus, I analyse a purposeful sample of 80 videos from the channel Bubzbeauty and introduce an emerged typology of two video categories: tutorials and vlogs. Findings suggest that the strengthening of the guru’s role as a popular online personality is the result of two spheres of influence. The commercial side consists of YouTube as a business platform and is best represented by her tutorials. The community sphere, sustained by the power of affective ties with her audience, is represented by her vlogs. I argue that her market value as a renowned guru is built through her know-how expressed in straightforward tutorials. Conversely, her social value as an interesting, trustworthy personality is fostered by intimate vlogs.
This article focuses on attention and popularity development on YouTube’s beauty community. I conceptualise the role of views and subscriptions as popularity markers, based on a broader ethnographic examination of 22 months of immersed fieldwork on the platform. I consider the case of Bubz, a British-Chinese beauty guru, through a purposeful sample of 80 videos. An emerged content typology is introduced, presenting four distinctive video categories: content-oriented, market-oriented, motivational, and relational. Drawing from concepts as ‘attention economy’ and ‘metrics of popularity’ (Burgess and Green, 2009a, 2009b), I explore content characteristics and affordances for the creation and maintenance of viewers’ attention. I argue that the guru’s uploads lead to two types of audiences –casual viewers and loyal subscribers. Vlogs renew attention and help maintain the interest first generated by tutorials, leading to treasured subscribers –an essential commodity within YouTube’s highly competitive environment.
Chapter in anthology Routledge Studies in European Communication Research and Education (ECREA) García-Rapp, F., (2018) “My Friend Bubz: Building Intimacy on YouTube’s Beauty Community”, In: Andreassen, R., Petersen, M., Harrison, K., Raun, T., “Mediated intimacies. Connectivities, relationalities and proximities“, pp. 282-295, Routledge, London.Book. Author’s postprint
Drawing from a multi-year ethnographic study of YouTube’s beauty community, I examine the case of Bubz, a British Chinese beauty guru. The article considers her vlogs and tutorials characteristics and distinctive affordances for establishing and sustaining emotional ties with her audience. In addition, the value of her celebrity position as well as the uses of her content for the purposes of inspiration, creativity, and identity work are thematized. I interpret her videos in view of what I term scale of intimacy, highlighting the relevance of her connection-seeking vlogs for the development of online intimacy. Findings are based on a purposeful sample of 20 videos and 3.000 user comments.
García-Rapp, F. and Roca-Cuberes, C. (2017) “Being an online celebrity – Norms and expectations of YouTube’s beauty community”, First Monday, 22 (7), July Issue 2017, open access (CC-BY NC SA) http://dx.doi.org/10.5210/fm.v22i17.7788
This article is based on 22 months of online fieldwork examining YouTube’s beauty community, specifically the beauty guru Bubz, her uploaded content, and user comments. We aim to conceptualize central community-specific dynamics and practices, particularly those related to self-presentation and identity-management and their affordances for legitimized online popularity. We explain how the guru’s successful online persona is based on a performative blend of relatable, down-to-earth values paired with a more aspirational and worthy of emulation side. Being an “ordinary-user-turned-famous” is seemingly an advantage given the high relevance of authenticity when judging online celebrities. However, her inherent ordinariness also increases expectations of trustworthiness and honesty, precisely because she is, and continues to perform daily, a regular user.
Contrary to the fifteen minutes of fame of online memes and viral videos in the volatile and competitive environment of YouTube, successful beauty gurus achieve sustained popularity, enjoy from long-lasting viewer engagement and inhabit legitimized celebrity positions. This article is based on a multi-year ethnographic examination of YouTube’s beauty community, focusing on the popular British-Chinese beauty guru Bubz, her channel Bubzbeauty, and the community of viewers formed around her content. Parting from the question of what legitimates Bubz in her influential role, I conceptualize community-specific norms that guide practices, particularly those related to self-presentation and identity-management and their implications for everyday celebrity practice. Merited fame involves certain requirements that need to be consistently demonstrated. The importance of first demonstrating expertise and effort, and then consistently following the community rules of self-presentation and engagement with brands and viewers without ‘selling out’ is at the heart of the values of YouTube’s beauty community.
Diagram – Fame Cycle and Content Uses – Bubzbeauty
In this article, I discuss methodological understandings around qualitative research and online ethnographic practice to bring forward a reflexive account on the particularities of doing fieldwork on YouTube. I draw from a multi-year ethnographic examination of YouTube’s beauty community that sought to understand online popularity framed by local norms and practices and shed light into the local significance of knowledge, expertise, and self-development (García-Rapp 2016, 2017; García-Rapp and Roca-Cuberes 2017). I argue for an epistemological perspective that acknowledges the diversity of viable, conceivable fieldwork experiences while distancing from prescriptive modes of argumentation. I propose seeing fieldwork in and through its richness and predicaments, persistently naturalistic while interpretive. I approach online popularity, fandom, and even YouTube itself from a perspective that tolerates ambivalence, contradictions, and embraces the complexity of social worlds and human interaction.
HBO’s global success, Game of Thrones (2011-2019), is known for having an active international fan base. In this qualitative interpretive study of the show’s reception in Spain, Germany, and Argentina, I examine themes emerged from interviews with 21 viewers. I interpret their readings on the series together with online and offline engagement practices. Rather than marked cultural contrasts, the study identifies common patterns across nations: varying degrees of analytic and emotional engagement (Chin and Morimoto, 2013) leading to diverse fan subjectivities within their ‘locality’. Theoretically, I draw from Mittell (2012) as well as Jenkins, Ford, Green (2013) to argue how GoT provides an arena for casual viewers and die-hard fans to move on both axes of engagement: drillability and spreadability. To finalize, I reflect on dominant academic discourses that reinforce notions of proper fandom and propose to apply anthropology’s cultural relativism and respect for the emic perspective to acknowledge agency.
García-Rapp, F. (2021) From the books to the screens, to the memes and beyond: Fans’ notions of Game of Thrones as an adaptation, International Journal of Media and Cultural Politics, 17 (3), p. 217-237. Open access (CC-BY) https://doi.org/10.1386/macp_00050_1
Parting from the awareness that not all consumers of U.S. media are located within the geographical and linguistic context of the United States, this paper contributes to media sociology with an approximation to the fandom of transnationally popular texts (Chin and Morimoto, 2013). Empirical findings presented here draw from a broader qualitative study on the reception of the series Game of Thrones (GoT) by 21 viewers from Argentina, Spain, and Germany (García-Rapp, 2021). Here I build on participants’ responses to both the original novels by George R.R. Martin and the series adaptation by HBO as distinctive media texts to explore notions of authorship, adaptation, and cultural legitimacy. Given the polysemic, intertextual quality of contemporary’s memetic culture, I also discuss a case of digital re-appropriation of GoT’s characters within socio-political discourses in Argentina.
García-Rapp, F. (2022) “Teaching and Learning Popular Media Cultures: Fostering enquiry journeys within the messy world of human social life”, Dialogue: The Interdisciplinary Journal of Popular Culture and Pedagogy, 9 (1), online, open access http://journaldialogue.org/category/musings/ Full text
In this theoretical paper, I draw from the interpretive, constructionist epistemology that frames my research practice as social scientist to reflect on the practice of teaching popular media cultures. In contrast to cynical approaches to popular culture, and taking distance from dogmatic assertions, I highlight instead the relevance of user-centered perspectives where entertainment, affect and pleasurable investments are legitimate reasons to engage with popular media texts, including celebrities (García-Rapp, 2017, 2019). In my classroom, we work from and within media anthropology approaches and do empirical work online to interpret meanings. We seek to achieve data-grounded theoretical contributions that present a complex picture of a culture by drawing attention to patterns that imply cultural process (Hammersely and Atkinson, 2007; Fetterman, 2010). When researching and experiencing the messy world of human social life, I believe in fostering inquiry journeys that promote tolerance for ambiguity. Social life is messy and complicated, and we should provide students with tools for them to make up their own minds. We are located in disciplines that are arenas of contestation and discussion and we often agree to disagree. Part of sustaining tolerance for ambiguity is to nurture contributions that extend our understanding of, and commitment to, the multiplicity and plurality of legitimate goals for social science inquiry (Bochner, 2000). This involves foregrounding perspectives that tolerate ambivalences, contradictions, and embrace the complexity of social worlds and human interaction (Tolson, 2010).
García-Rapp, F. and León L. (2023) #MADRES. Parodic Motherhood Discourses on Peruvian TikTok, Visual Communication Quarterly, online first, (forthcoming), author’s original manuscript http://www.florenciagarciarapp.org/wp-content/uploads/2023/03/Authors-original-manuscript-2023-madres-visual.pdf
TikTok’s increasing cultural pervasiveness leading to a myriad of practices and discourses turn the platform into a rich digital fieldsite to interpret local dynamics. Here we analyze visual and textual discourses on (urban) Peruvian TikTok as sociocultural processes to reflect on popular media cultures and contribute to media studies and anthropology. This study examines 80 videos and more than 10.000 user comments around the content of two young male Peruvian digital creators @mikkele and @zagaladas −who upload humorous, parodic clips of themselves re-enacting their mothers− to better understand the articulation of motherhood performances. Filled with intergenerational tensions and gender differences, these videos and their comments are fruitful terrain to explore both legitimized and rejected maternal subjectivities.