Papi Jiang and Microcelebrity in China: A Multilevel Analysis
The vibrancy of China’s microcelebrity phenomenon contrasts sharply with the scant scholarly attention paid to it. To address this lacuna, this article provides a systematic analysis of Papi Jiang, the most prominent and illustrative example of a Chinese microcelebrity. I argue that Papi’s rise to fame is dependent on a particular digital environment with technological and cultural specificities. By bringing the phenomenon of microcelebrity in China into the spotlight, my work complicates Western-dominated writings that tend to emphasize the performances of microcelebrities as portraying an authentic, intimate, and accessible self. This article also calls for a broader analytical framework for the study of microcelebrity that invokes a multilevel analysis. I argue that microcelebrity could be better understood through combining a microlevel investigation of its performances, a new focus on the active role of digital technologies, and close scrutiny of the broader media ecology and sociocultural contexts in which microcelebrity takes shape.