In the context of present celebrity culture, an Internet celebrity, blogebrity, cyberstar, online celebrity, micro-celebrity or Internet personality is someone who has become famous by means of the Internet. The advent of social media has helped people increase their outreach to a global audience.
The Internet allows the masses to wrest control of fame from traditional media, creating micro-celebrities with the click of a mouse
A micro-celebrity is the state of being famous to a niche group of people on a social media platform. Achieving micro-celebrity status involves the use of a self-presentation technique in which the subject views himself or herself as a public persona to be consumed by others. Persons who achieve this status use strategy intimacy to appeal to followers, and they regard their followers as fans.
Internet Icon is an American Idol-like competition between groups to see who can be "the next internet icon" or be able to run their own YouTube channel while sustaining an audience. It premiered on YOMYOMF, and was hosted by Chester See. Notable judges include YouTube celebrity and actor Ryan Higa.
Additionally, there is also a guest judge who appears on the show each elimination episode. The contestants complete challenges at the Los Angeles Center Studios, where the show is also shot.
The competition aired for two seasons before cancellation due to funding issues.
Wanghong ( “网红”), or internet fame in Mandarin, is the Chinese rendition of internet stardom. The term is also used to describe the Chinese digital economy based on influencer marketing in social media. Wanghong has been predominantly used to generate profits via retail or eCommerce, by attracting the attention of celebrities' followers.
According to CBN Data, a commercial data company affiliated with Alibaba, the Internet celebrities economy was set to be worth 58 billion yuan in 2016, more than China's total cinema box office revenue in 2015.
There are two main business models in the Wanghong economy: Social Media Advertising, and Online Retailing.
In the online retailing business model, eCommerce-based Wanghong involves the use of social media platforms to sell self-branded products to potential buyers among followers via Chinese customer to customer C2C websites, such as TaoBao. Celebrities work as their own shops’ models by posting pictures or videos of themselves, wearing the clothes or accessories they sell, or giving distinctive makeup or fashion tips. The celebrities serve as key opinion leaders for their followers, who either aspire to be like them, or look up to them.
Zhang Dayi, one of China's best known Wang Hong, with 4.9 million Sina weibo followers, has her online shop in a TaoBao website, reportedly earning 300 million yuan ($46 million) per year. This is comparable to the $21 million made by Fan Bingbing, a top Chinese actress.
In social media advertising, internet celebrities can be paid to advertise products. When celebrities have garnered sufficient attention and follower-ship, advertising companies approach them to help advertise products, which can then reach a large user base.
Censorship in Chinese media has created an entire social media ecosystem, that has become wildly successful in its own way. For every social media platform in the Western world, there is a Chinese version of it, and the Chinese version can be equally successful. In China, the social media platforms used are different from those used in the West, but the results are the same - the platforms generate revenue. The greatest difference between Chinese Wanghong celebrities and their Western counterparts is that the profits generated by Chinese celebrities can be immense. Unlike YouTube, which takes a 45% of the commission on ads, Weibo, one of the biggest social media platforms of China, is not involved in advertising, which allows internet celebrities to be more independent. Monthly incomes can exceed 10 million RMB ($1.5 million) for those at the top.
Millions of people write online journals or weblogs. In many cases these contributions do not make the writers notable on a large scale, or only for people with the same specialist interest. But if the author has or develops a distinctive personality, the author may rise to fame derived from this, as much as from the content of the writer's blog.
In some cases, people might rise to fame through a single event or video that goes viral. The Internet allows videos, news articles, and jokes to spread very quickly. Depending on the reach of the spread, the content may become considered an "Internet meme" and, thus, any of the people associated may gain exposure for posting really intelligent content. For example, Zach Anner, an Austin, Texas-based comedian, gained worldwide attention after submitting a video to Oprah Winfrey's "Search for the Next TV Star" competition. There is substantial searching online for people.
Internet celebrities have also become a popular phenomenon in China (PRC) with the likes of Sister Furong (Fu Rong Jiejie), who received worldwide notoriety and fame for her unashamed efforts at self-promotion via Internet postings.
The concept of web celebrity ties into Andy Warhol's quip about 15 minutes of fame. A more recent adaptation of Warhol's quip, possibly prompted by the rise of online social networking, blogging, and similar online phenomena, is the claim that "In the future, everyone will be famous to fifteen people" or, in some renditions, "On the Web, everyone will be famous to fifteen people". This quote, though attributed to David Weinberger, was said to have originated with the Scottish artist Momus.
Social media personalities often function as lifestyle gurus who present a particular lifestyle or attitude to their spectators. In this role they may be crucial influencers / multipliers for trends in the fashion industry, variously also becoming popular ("wikt:fashionista") as fashion bloggers or (unlearned) fashion designers.
Occasionally an Internet celebrity has naively invited fans to meet him/her at a certain place and time, without proper organization, attracting crowds of fans, causing disorderly and even unsafe situations. Alternatively it can be organized in a venue, with security personnel. Magcon is an example of even a group of internet celebrities meeting fans in the latter way.
Examples of cybercelebrities
Ryan Higa, known by his YouTube username "nigahiga", is an American comedian, YouTube personality, and actor. He is known for his comedy videos on YouTube, which have been viewed over 3 billion times. His YouTube channel has over 20 million subscribers, making him the 26th most subscribed YouTuber alongside singer Shakira.
Higa was born in Hilo, Hawaii, on the 6th of June 1990. He is of Japanese descent. In the mid-2006, Higa began making lip-sync videos with a good friend, Sean Fujiyoshi while attending Waiakea High School. They expanded their repertoire to include comedy pieces, with frequent guest appearances by Tim Enos, Ryan Villaruel, Kyle Chun, and Tarynn Nago.
Initial efforts on the YouTube channel was fraught with copyright infringement. On Christmas Eve of 2008, Higa and Fujiyoshi's two most popular videos, How To Be Gangster and How To Be Emo, were removed due to copyright violations. The nigahiga account was also temporarily suspended in January 2009, as more videos with copyrighted content was found, and were required to be removed. Most of the initial lip-sync videos that made Higa famous were all deleted as a result, except for one.
Since then, Higa started composing the music himself. How to be Gangster and How to be Emo were put back on nigahiga's channel in late August 2009, only to be removed a few days later, along with How to be Ninja and How to be Nerd. In Spring 2010, How to be Ninja, How to be Gangster and How to be Emo were made public once more.
By December 2010, nigahiga has become the first YouTube channel to hit 3 million subscribers. According to Higa, the channel name, nigahiga, is the combination of "niga" which means "rant" in Japanese, and "Higa", his last name.
A second channel, HigaTV, was created in 2011. This channel posts videos on behind the scenes action for the main channel, and serves as a vlog for Higa. By 2017, this channel has 4.9 million subscribers.
Higa and Fujiyoshi have put together a production company, The Ryan Higa Production Company, to create videos for the nigahiga channel. Later, a parody K-pop group, Boys generally Asian was created by Higa and his friends.
Logan Alexander Paul (born April 1, 1995) is an American internet personality and actor from Westlake, Ohio. Paul first gained fame through videos shared on former internet video service Vine. He grew up with his younger brother Jake, and began creating internet videos for a YouTube channel called Zoosh when he was 10 years old.
Paul rose to fame as a member on the Internet video sharing service Vine. In February 2014, he had over 3.1 million followers on various social media platforms. By April 2014 he had attained 105,000 Twitter followers, 361,000 Instagram followers, 31,000 likes on his Facebook page and about 150,000 subscribers to his YouTube channel. A YouTube compilation video of his Vine work garnered more than four million views the first week it was posted. In 2015 he was ranked as the 10th most influential figure on Vine, with his six-second videos earning him hundreds of thousands of dollars in advertising revenue.
Paul created his YouTube channel, TheOfficialLoganPaul, to upload comedy sketches and short films. He also has a vlog channel, "Logan Paul Vlogs", where he posts daily from September 12, 2016, to January 1, 2018. His first channel has 4.4 million subscribers, and his vlog channel has 15.7 million followers by January 2018.
Paul was at the center of a controversy when he filmed the corpse of a recently deceased Japanese man, in the suicide forest at Aoikigahara, at the foot of the Fuji Mountains. Initially intended to be part three of his "Tokyo Adventures" series, Paul and his group had planned to camp in the woods, but in response to finding the corpse, decided to notify the authorities and cancel their plans. The video gained 6.3 million views within 24 hours of being uploaded.
Paul received flak from celebrities, politicians and fellow YouTube stars for posting the video of the dead man, which they felt was an act of disrespect to the deceased. A petition was started on Change.org to urge YouTube to delete Paul's channel, the largest of which received more than 500,000 signatures as of January 12, 2018.
As a result of the backlash, Paul removed the video from his YouTube channel, following up with a written apology on Twitter on January 1, 2018. On January 2, 2018, a subsequent video apology was released to YouTube in which Paul describes his behavior as a "coping mechanism," asking his fans to stop defending his actions in the process. While acknowledging his actions as irresponsible, he denied that his intention was to mock the victim.
Paul uploaded a video on January 24, looking at suicide prevention, interviewing Golden Gate Bridge jumper Kevin Hines, musical activist Bob Forrest, and National Suicide Prevention Lifeline director Dr. John Draper. The video was well received with a total of 29 million views as of 4 April 2018. He also donated $1 million to suicide prevention agencies.
After a one-month long absence, Logan Paul returned to making videos on YouTube on February 4, 2018.
Accidental internet celebrities
Blake Boston (Scumbag Steve)
Scumbag Steve came to fame back in 2011. The meme centered around the photo of a young man wearing a hat backward and askance. The overlaid text generally centers around unethical behavior regarding drugs, partying, and other hedonistic behaviors.
The original image came from the cover of the album “Ma Gangsta” by the rap group Beantown Mafia. The first known images were posted in a compilation to Reddit in a thread that reached the front page on January 21, 2011 and received 8,607 upvotes prior to being archived. A commenter in the Reddit thread identified the young man in the photo as Blake Boston, also known as “Weezy B.”
Initially, Boston had a very mixed feelings about his fame. The original reaction to his newfound infamy led to people threatening him and his family for no reason. In an interview with Know Your Meme, he said: "People started blowing up [calling] my phone, telling me I was all over the net. At first it went deep. Then I couldn’t help but laugh. People got my name, my phone, my Facebook, started callin’. Callin’ me all kind of racist things, callin’ my girl and my family all hours of the night." He eventually came to terms with his likeness becoming a part of internet lore.
The meme was particularly well received by Reddit’s /r/trees subreddit, leading to creation of many image macros with references to smoking etiquettes and commonly shared experiences under the influence of cannabis. Blake later confirmed his appreciation of the marijuana enthusiast subreddit, /trees.
Tardar Sauce (born April 4, 2012) is an American cat internet celebrity, known for the permanently "grumpy" facial expression, caused by dwarfism and an underbite. She came to prominence when a photograph of her was posted on social news website Reddit by Bryan Bundesen, the brother of her owner Tabatha, in September 2012, and lolcats and parodies created from the photograph by Reddit users went viral. She is the subject of a popular internet meme in which negative, cynical lolcats are made from photographs of her.
Grumpy Cat is born into a litter of four, of an unknown breed. She and her brother Pokey were born to normal parents with "a flat face, bubble eyes, and a short tail" Although she has a constant grumpy look to her, the owners say that the cat is a normal kitty "99% of the time".
Tardar Sauce has her own manager, Ben Lashes, who also represents the Keyboard Cat and Nyan Cat. As a celebrity pet, her interactions with the public is limited. Photo sessions are only once a week, and handling by strangers is limited. At South by Southwest Interactive, Tardar Sauce made limited two-hour appearances each day as Grumpy Cat.
Her fame has brought her media appearances on NBC News's Today, ABC News's Good Morning America, CBS Evening News, Anderson Live, VH1's Big Morning Buzz Live, The Soup and FOX's American Idol. In September 2013, it was announced that Grumpy Cat would become the Official Spokescat of Friskies.
As of 11 April 2018, Grumpy Cat has 2.4 million followers on Instagram.
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