Banet-Weiser (2012, p. 8) says, “building a brand is about building an affective, authentic relationship with a consumer”, a profound exchange of meaning and intention. This strive for genuineness is a standard aspect of human nature, in an accelerated culture of screen, plastic, and CGI. Is an innate drive to repel the fake and embrace the real, a survival instinct? It’s perhaps one of the main reasons I continuously cringed during our screening of Eighth Grade (2018), also why I loved the film. The distinct words and phrases Kayla would say would sometimes seem so rehearsed, so manufactured by the workings of her own teenage mind and the trends fed to her generation, it was overwhelming.
Because that was me about ten years ago. A vessel for popular catchphrases, fashion styles, and products of the moment I’d interact with on the internet, television, or print media. This was the construct of my own persona, and, should personas come across fixed and ‘fictional’, will fail to achieve meaningful producer-audience relationships. An ‘authentic’, seemingly unrestrained brand is not impossible. In fact, we see many YouTubers today praised for their authentic promotion of sense of self. In our audio exercise, everyone we interviewed felt they were being themselves. Each person’s identity was only supplemented by the clothes they wore, the brands they showed off, and not dictated by such things. These are valid ideas when it comes to our experience at VidCon, because every creator is somehow present in the creation and perception of their own online persona and online brand, whether intentional or not.
Eighth Grade 2018, film, A24, United States, directed by Bo Burnham.
Banet-Weiser, S 2012, ‘Introduction: Branding the Authentic’ and ‘Conclusion: The Politics of Ambivalence’ in AuthenticTM: The Politics of Ambivalence in a Brand Culture (NYU Press)