@UncleBlazer

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When thinking of a celebrity Twitter profile to analyze, the very first person that popped into my head was Blake Anderson (Workaholics anyone)?! If you haven’t seen the show on Comedy Central, his character is a party animal with a crappy nine-to-five job as a telemarketer. Obviously, he is a comedian and the show is a comedy but what’s even more interesting is that through his Twitter profile, he conveys himself as extremely similar to his character on the show.  Honestly, it’s hard to understand what he is ever tweeting about and when I do, his tweets always make me laugh because of some funny photo attached.  One must wonder, is he really a crazy stoner in real life or is this a performance he is putting on for the Twitterverse? Why would he put on this performance for Twitter?

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In his article, “Social Network Profiles as Taste Performances,” Hugo Liu categorizes performances on social network sites as conveying prestige, differentiation, theatrical persona, or authenticity (Liu 263). After really going through his profile, most of his tweets would fall under the “theatrical persona” category, at first glance at least.  For example, he tweets things such as, “STUPD IDIOT” or “Going thru airport security smellin like Budweiser.” This is playing up his party boy persona and it seems as though he purposely abbreviates or omits letters to make things more funny as if he was actually speaking out loud.  Also, you can take a look at his Twitter background, which is a photo of himself looking pretty intoxicated, which plays up his image even more. He portrays himself as very clearly “over-the-top” in his overall opinions and behaviors. The fact that he is a comedian invites one to assume that this is an online performance he is putting on for his fans and those that watch his show (even though it seems like he is no stranger to the party scene in real life).  Even his username, @uncleblazer, is a reference to a nickname given to him on the show.

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Yet, after digging a little deeper, his profile actually does reveal a little authenticity; he tweets occasionally on a more serious note to his girlfriend or about upcoming events.  With a little further research, his friends on the show are actually his friends in real life; all use their real names and the show is shot at the house they all actually shared in California. This case is definitely a blurred line between theatrical persona and authenticity because it very hard to classify him according to only one of Liu’s categories, as is the case with most Twitter profiles.

In her article, “I’m a Lot More Interesting Than a Friendster Profile,” Alice Marwick goes into the complexity of self presentation on social networks and how this presentation is greatly influenced by the “sites’ commercial purposes rather than user needs” (Marwick 3).  Additionally, she argues that social networking sites, “limit the user’s ability to change based on its audience” (Marwick 13).  According to her research, Blake’s Twitter would be an example of an “Authentic Ironic” profile, one in which he is himself yet he uses extreme sarcasm to play up a persona.  It’s difficult to understand the way in which a celebrity uses Twitter because they are aware that they are being followed by hundreds of thousands of people.  People want to see tweets from Blake Anderson that sound like they’re coming from the Blake Anderson from Workaholics. It seems that Blake is playing up a certain side of himself that his audience is looking for.  Of course he is keeping much of his private life private while tweeting more about surface level, funny, weird things he experiences.

This calls into question, the “context collapse” that occurs on Twitter, especially for celebrities.  They are a brand that their audience wants to see more of, as oppose to a person who may not have so many followers and isn’t under a microscope with every tweet.  In their article, “I Tweet Honestly, I Tweet Passionately: Twitter Users, Context Collapse, and the Imagined Audience,” Alice Marwick and danah boyd discuss how Twitter basically flattens an audience into one.  Blake Anderson is not only tweeting to his friends and family, but to thousands of people he has never met before, who expect him to act a certain way.  It would almost be impossible for him to even try to separate his audiences unless he made his Twitter account private; though, if he were to do that, he would not be able to market himself to his fans as he does now.

Blake Anderson is giving his fans exactly what they want by portraying himself to be the same person as his character on the show. He is building up his own name and brand as well as promoting himself (which I see nothing wrong with). Whether he truly is the same as his character is something only his close friends and family would actually know. Regardless, he utilizing Twitter to the best of his abilities and in the meantime promoting himself as an actor and comedian.

Workaholics Power Medicine Video Clip

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One comment

  1. I think you chose a really interesting celebrity persona to analyze here, particularly because of (as you brought up) the similarities between the celebrity’s character and (what seems to be) his Twitter personality. Performance is such an integral part of our lives, especially in social media, and the ambiguity of what is personal or public to Anderson makes me wonder exactly what parts of his feed are based on performance and what parts aren’t (if any at all). You made a good point about branding and how celebrities often maintain a certain persona to keep up with the brand, but when you said that some really significant aspects of his life paralleled with his character’s (such as his friends and their names), it made me wonder whether this apparent “performance” was also just an authentic part of his real personality as well. Maybe the persona he maintains now is a results of the way he’s adapted his personal life to his work in comedy. He’s a really interesting example of celebrity performance overall, and the authenticity-theatricality paradox that he displays seems to highlight the difficulty in being simultaneously self-aware and trying to cater to ideal audiences in social media.

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