Digital Media Lecture: "Gonzo Self-Help: Or, Personal Care in the Era of Platform Capitalism"
Tess McNulty Dartmouth College
Talk abstract:Of all the web’s varieties of quasi-therapeutic content, few have been so pervasive—so widely viewed, shared, and liked across multiple platforms—as “Gonzo Self-Help.” Vloggers and bloggers have flooded platforms with iterations of the popular genre, describing radical experiments in self-care, and bearing titles like “I Adopted a Child For a Day!” and “What I Learned From Giving Up Solid Food.” Collections of highly-viewed YouTube videos and Medium posts, 2019-2021, reveal not only the genre's prominence, but also its significance. Gonzo Self-Help has embodied an essential ethos of platform capitalism, concerning self-care. This ethos, and the genre that expresses it, now serve purposes both liberatory and exploitative.