Situating genre on YouTube: We rant, we laugh, we conquer?

Emma Gabriele, University of Rhode Island


This body of research seeks to understand iterations of ranting manifest via YouTube video blogs through a rhetorical lens. I employ comparative theory to develop a description of the rant as a recurring typology, equipped with excremental metaphors inspired by Burke’s concept of catharsis. I then differentiate YouTube vlog ranting from ‘live’ ranting by applying Carolyn Miller’s theory of genre as social action. Using Miller’s paradigm, I turn to contemporary research in media studies and humor communication, in order to develop a methodology equipped to analyze YouTube vlog rants as generic texts. I contend that the meaning constructed in YouTube vlogs must be interpreted beyond the oral performance of the rant, and explicate a methodological approach that accounts for editing, camera positioning (confessional-style format), scripting, setting, and any other superfluous additions that exists outside of the diegetic action of the vlog. In the culminating chapter of the exposition, I provide a preliminary application of the method. I also discuss the social implications of comedic vlog rants, and suggest that YouTube vlogging creates a unique subject position for the vlogger; a subject position that enables greater social influence and the potential for celebrity status. I conclude by questioning what role this subject positioning might play in reinforcing or subverting heteronormativity – based on a hypothesis that adherence to hegemonic ideals surrounding gender and sexuality is positively correlated with popularity (and participation in revenue sharing). ^

Subject Area

Communication|Web studies|Rhetoric

Recommended Citation

Emma Gabriele, "Situating genre on YouTube: We rant, we laugh, we conquer?" (2016). Dissertations and Master's Theses (Campus Access). Paper AAI10104378.