Vitafiction and Virality: Celebrities Fictionalizing the Self Online

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Celebrities playing fictionalized versions of themselves in commercials, campaigns, and video spots have become an increasingly viral phenomenon. The George Clooney commercials for Nespresso are circulated and promoted on various media platforms, segments from The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon are released on and shared on YouTube, and some videos are explicitly created to go viral and even published on social media sites. In this article, I draw on recent work in fictionality studies and studies of virality to investigate how the celebrity trend of ‘vitafiction’ possesses a viral potential. In vitafictional performances, the relationship between fiction and reality is thematized through a concurrent surplus of fictionality and biographical details, which invites recipients to negotiate between the celebrity’s performance and the receiver’s media cultural knowledge. Taking vitafictional performances in two online circulated spots as case studies – ‘Bono rides a bike with Jimmy Fallon’, a spot for The Tonight Show starring Jimmy Fallon, and Peter Jackson’s Facebook video post ‘Home Invasion’, a video that thematizes Jackson’s role as director of an episode of Doctor Who – this article demonstrates how the equivocality that is central to the vitafictional performance comprises a force that prompts receivers to circulate the vitafictional message. It is argued that the mediatization of society and the virality that this brings about create new possibilities for the impact of this kind of celebrity self-fashioning.

TidsskriftConvergence: The International Journal of Research into New Media Technologies
Udgave nummer4
Sider (fra-til)912-926
Antal sider15
StatusUdgivet - 1 aug. 2020


  • Vitafiction
  • Fictionality
  • Virality
  • Self-irony


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