One of the notable features of the Corbyn era was the emergence of a range of leading left-wing figures with large online platforms and followings – not least Corbyn himself. These figures often play a critical role in circulating information and building a shared identity and sense of solidarity. At the same time, a ‘left celebrity’ culture raises some important political questions. Could identification with charismatic figures sometimes be a substitute for meaningful political action? How do we avoid identifying people as targets for the right to attack? Is there anything we can learn from how other political movements have responded to the emergence of celebrity figures?
In this session we will discuss the effects of online culture and parasocial relationships on social movements, followed by an digital walking tour through different online spaces to reflect on their political culture.
Paolo is the Director of the Centre for Digital Culture at King’s College, London. He is the author of Tweets and the Streets: Social Media and Contemporary Activism (2012), The Mask and the Flag: Citizenism and Global Protest (2017), and The Digital Party: Political Organization and Online Democracy (2018).
Shannon Strucci is known for her webseries FAKE FRIENDS, her role as a player on the teen superhero body horror podcast Critical Bits, and her role as film correspondent for the podcast Struggle Session. She also edits short comedy/horror films, publishes other video essays and reviews, and panels at conventions to talk about media.