It’s Just a Joke! The Payoffs and Perils of Microcelebrity in India

Microcelebrity Around the Globe

ISBN: 978-1-78756-750-4, eISBN: 978-1-78756-749-8

Publication date: 19 November 2018

Abstract

This chapter will consider the workings of microcelebrity in the context of an evolving Indian cyber public. In the contemporary moment, large-scale battles for control over the world’s youngest and increasingly digitally active demographic are in full swing – both by corporations like Facebook through efforts like Free Basics, as well as by ideologues who wish to mold the “idea of India” in certain ways. While digital spaces are often framed as liberating, there are also extremely strong conservative forces that are well established. It is within this context that I would like to examine the recent growth of the Indian online comedic scene whose popularity has increased by leaps and bounds. My particular focus will be the comedy collective of AIB (All India Backchod), who are most prominent on Youtube. This collective has garnered significant popularity through their deployment of viral comedic videos riffing off on various aspects of Indian society and have also made socially aware videos around hot button issues like gay rights and women’s rights. I would like to examine their treatment of gender and sexuality particularly in the context of it being made up primarily of straight men and how that has affected their engagement both with the content of their videos, as well as their ability to leverage their online visibility. I will be using ideas of postcolonial cyberspace as theorized by Nishant Shah (2015) as well as theorists of microcelebrity and the use of humor such as Theresa Senft (2013).

Keywords

Citation

Pande, R. (2018), "It’s Just a Joke! The Payoffs and Perils of Microcelebrity in India", Abidin, C. and Brown, M. (Ed.) Microcelebrity Around the Globe, Emerald Publishing Limited, pp. 145-160. https://doi.org/10.1108/978-1-78756-749-820181014

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Emerald Publishing Limited

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