Number 61 (2016)

The Impact of the Internet and Social Media on US-American Culture and Society

Edited by Hans-Jürgen Grabbe


On September 30, 2015, the American Studies Journal published its Occasional Paper No. 10, entitled “Rape as Spectator Sport and Creepshot Entertainment: Social Media and the Valorization of Lack of Consent.” The author, Kelly Oliver, is the W. Alton Jones Professor of Philosophy at Vanderbilt University. Drawing attention to recent cases of rape on American college campuses, she shows how cell phones and social media have been used to prolong the humiliation of the victims, giving rise to a culture of voyeurism that no longer hides its contempt for women.

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Rape as Spectator Sport and Creepshot Entertainment: Social Media and the Valorization of Lack of Consent

Lack of consent is valorized within popular culture to the point that sexual assault has become a spectator sport and creepshot entertainment on social media. Indeed, the valorization of nonconsensual sex has reached the extreme where sex with unconscious girls, especially accompanied by photographs as trophies, has become a goal of some boys and men.

In this context, see Kelly Oliver’s most recent contribution: “There Is No Such Thing as ‘Nonconsensual Sex.’ It’s Violence,” The New York Times 21 Nov. 2016.

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The Internet as Spectator Disclosure: Consent, Community, and Responsibility in Patricia Lockwood’s Viral Poem “Rape Joke”

In “Rape as Spectator Sport and Creepshot Entertainment: Social Media and the Valorization of Lack of Consent,” the American philosopher Kelly Oliver provides a compelling and chilling analysis of the use and impact of social media by perpetrators of or bystanders to sexual assault. Patricia Lockwood’s 2013 long-form narrative poem, “Rape Joke,” which was published online and went viral on social media, offers a complement to Oliver’s analysis by presenting an Internet account of sexual assault from the survivor’s perspective. “Rape Joke,” through its content and form, raises questions to which we must philosophically and socially respond.

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From Sunday School to #SundayFunday: Social Media and the Semi-Public Performance of the Weekend

The paper focuses on the role of internet technologies in the mediation of weekend activities in social networks, arguing that internet technologies facilitate and shape the social activities once occupied by more traditional institutions, namely religious communities. It compares three contemporary weekend events that have serve as identity-constructing performances in ways that religious communities have in the past. The three events are social drinking, exercise/fitness, and Sunday brunch.

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Empathic Cyberactivism: The Potential of Hyperconnected Social Media Networks and Empathic Virtual Reality for Feminism

The rise of misogyny on social networks feels both devastating and endless. Whether one believes that misogyny has risen to a new level, or that it has simply become more visible through the internet, one thing is clear: with the ubiquity and accessibility of “immortal” online information, harassment and discrimination, shared via hyperconnected social media networks, can be taken to a new, much more visible level.

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Standing By Police Violence: On the Constitution of the Ideal Citizen as Sousveiller

Individual citizens and social movement organizations document police with video, both serendipitously and deliberately. This documentation is characterized as an intervention, one that not only promises to alter events, but to fulfill civic responsibilities. Simply, video recording police makes one an active citizen, rather than a passive bystander. For instance, at Occupy Wall Street, video recording was a primary and normalized response by protesters when police used coercive force against other protesters. Their use of video streaming apps to live-broadcast such events—while chanting “The whole world is watching!”—shows how protesters framed watching as an intercession.

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Words Left Unspoken: The External Forces Shaping Online Discourse

This article examines how various aspects of US politics and culture may define the boundaries of transnational online discourse. The argument presented focuses on two general categories by which these dynamics may emerge, namely systemic and agential factors. Systemic limitations include language, codes and protocols, algorithms, and parameters set by media specific terms of services. Agential factors are tied to specific sets of political and economic interests, legal frameworks or cultural norms, as well as individual forms of human agency involved in content moderation.

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