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Surveillance of citizens, Authenticity, Minority & ethnic groups, Society, Behavior, Aesthetics, Airline security, Video recordings, Conventions; Scholars, Music videos, Reflexivity


This article looks at popular visual media in the context of the larger surveillance society in which it occurs. Bringing into conversation scholarship in feminist media studies, surveillance, performance, and critical race studies, the piece offers another way to explore race in popular media and consider the implications of surveillance. The work examines how principles from contexts of surveillance carry over into contexts not under surveillance. The article explores the vernacularization-the process of making things mundane, everyday, unremarkable-of ideas about authenticity and performing, and the implications when it comes to race issues, which are animated in contexts of surveillance, but exceed these and are apparent in contexts not under surveillance. Through a critical examination of Taylor Swift's video "Shake it off," and Miley Cyrus's video "We Can't Stop," the author argues self-retlexivity marks their performing behavior as distinct from their authentic self, reassuring audiences there is an authentic (white) self under the performance. This authentic self is presented as stable, a core identity most naturally enacted by white bodies, brought into relief by performing otherness.

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Citation / Publisher Attribution

Surveillance & Society, v. 14, issue 2, p. 184-196

Under a Creative Commons license.