Article in:Internet Pragmatics: Online-First Articles
YouTube eating shows and the performance of informality
In this paper, I investigate how the structure of and discursive performance on North American YouTube eating shows contribute to the creation of intimacy and informality. In a typical eating show, the performer eats copious amounts of food while talking to their non-copresent audience, making use of interactional registers to ‘break’ from the solitary setting and to build rapport with their viewers. The material for this study is based on two case studies drawn from a corpus of YouTube eating shows. At the heart of the eating show performances lies the persona of a ‘friend’ of the viewer, diverting from their highly structured and technologically-mediated communicative nature. While the language used on eating shows may thus seem spontaneous and unprompted, the videos are not only planned but also edited. The simultaneous presence of selected unedited moments (i.e., slips of the tongue and other mishaps), however, is evidence of a conscious blending of front- and backstage performance (Goffman 1959; Shulman 2017).
Keywords: (in)formality, performance, Mukbang, eating shows, front- and backstage, language and food, genre
Published online: 12 March 2021
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