SSP Research Seminar Series - The Internet’s “Transnational” Boyfriend: Digital (Re)presentations of Celebrity Men

We are delighted to welcome Francesca Sobande, University of Cardiff, to present at our next seminar.


This talk explores online (re)presentations of famous men and masculinities, and the surrounding concept of “the internet’s boyfriend”. Drawing on studies of celebrity, masculinities, marketing, and digital culture, I analyse how famous men who are publicly desired and/or admired are (re)presented in digital spheres—memes, videos, articles, and accumulative discourse. Particularly by focusing on (re)presentations of Timothée Chalamet and Idris Elba, I examine how famous men are transnationally remediated in ways that can reinforce, resist, and rupture Anglo-Western normative notions of desirable masculinity. Culturally specific and hybridised ideas, identities, and ideologies that are projected onto such men online reveal the entanglements of issues concerning sexuality, (non)whiteness, exoticisation, nationality, masculinity, celebrity, and global media. Although “the internet’s boyfriend” is not always white, he is often someone who grew up in, identifies with, and is praised within, Western cultures. Overall, this talk considers how and why online (re)presentations of famous men in a transnational media landscape are couched in common narratives which include them being claimed as an (inter)national treasure, attractive to Anglophiles, and (re)presented as eccentric and exoticised Others. 

Speaker biography

Dr. Francesca Sobande is a lecturer in digital media studies and director of the BA Media, Journalism and Culture programme at Cardiff University. She is Communications Co-Chair (with Dr. Naya Jones) of the Race in the Marketplace (RIM) Research Network. Francesca's work focuses on the media experiences of Black women in Britain, digital remix culture, creative work, brand "woke-washing", and the politics of popular culture and power. Her research has been published in a range of international journals including European Journal of Cultural Studies, Marketing Theory, Television & New Media, Consumption Markets & Culture, and Communication, Culture & Critique. She is author of The Digital Lives of Black Women in Britain (Palgrave Macmillan, 2020) and co-editor with Professor Akwugo Emejulu of To Exist is to Resist: Black Feminism in Europe (Pluto Press, 2019). Francesca is also co-author with layla-roxanne hill of Black Oot Here: Black Lives in Scotland (Bloomsbury/Zed Books, forthcoming 2022). 

Event joining details 

This session will be chaired by Dr Kim Allen and you can join us via Zoom using the details below:

Meeting ID: 878 7702 5867
Passcode: n13VR%