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Ratchet Digital Practice

Presentation at Northwestern University 4/4/2016

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Ratchet Digital Practice

  1. 1. Libidinal Digital Practice Ratchetry as African American Online Interiority André Brock Communication Studies University of Michigan 1
  2. 2. “Trap Queen” #2 on Billboard Hot 100 10 weeks in Billboard Hot 100 top ten 2
  3. 3. When Ratchet Met Nancy Fetty Wap – one eyed rapper Trap Queen – a respectful ode to Black women supporting their partners engaged in criminal enterprises; #2 on Billboard Hot 100 (25 weeks in top 10) The Trap – typically a location where drugs are sold Nancy Reagan –wife of Ronald Reagan, whose anti- drug incarceration laws she complemented with an ineffectual anti-drug promotional campaign targeting children 3
  4. 4. ‘Appropriate’ Digital Practice 4
  5. 5. Technoculture Dinerstein Marcuse 5
  6. 6. Digital Respectability ‘Appropriate’ digital practice involves information use and interface design which must be efficient and productive; the information transmitted should be devoid of – or rather in alignment with - a political economic opinion, as well as being easily digestible to audiences and users of a particular culture. 6
  7. 7. Mobile ain’t appropriate 7
  8. 8. Digital Libidinal Economy 8
  9. 9. Libidinal Economy Leotard Saxton 9
  10. 10. Respectability and Ratchetry 10
  11. 11. Ratchetry as Libidinal Economy • Libidinal, rather than political economy (Lyotard 1969; Wilderson 2010) • “where sections of the psychic and social apparatus which must only be affirmed separately or successively, are affirmed at the same time” • Ratchetry as pathos • the broad range of feelings, yearning (erotic and otherwise) once deemed necessarily private (Morgan 2015) 11
  12. 12. “Respectable anger calls lawyers; ratchet anger calls goons. Respectable anger throws barbs; ratchet anger throws bottles. S.G. Benjamin, 2014 If you want to feel humor too exquisite and subtle for translation, sit invisibly among a gang of Negro workers. The white world has its gibes and cruel caricatures; it has its loud guffaws; but to the black world alone belongs the delicious chuckle W.E.B. DuBois, 1940 12
  13. 13. Ratchet Term linking Black bodies - often female and/or queer - with “hood” or deviant behavior (Warner 2015; Bradley 2013a and 2013b) Performance of agentive deviance from external and internal social order Ratchetry is unapologetic and hyperpersonal 13
  14. 14. Deviance as (online) Praxis Politics of (Black) deviance Deviance: “breaking the assumed agreed upon norms of socially acceptable behavior” “the groups [black youth] who are believed to be lacking moral judgment, as measured by adherence to dominant norms and values, are often construed as deficient citizens whose deviant behaviors threaten not only their own progress but that of the nation” - Cohen (2010) Democracy Remixed 14
  15. 15. 15
  16. 16. Ratchet Digital Practice 16
  17. 17. Black Twitter The interpellation of Twitter by Black discursive practice Discursive ritualistic format/content of drama and catharsis map closely to the Black cultural practice of signifyin' Hashtags and trending topics made visible a ‘public’ 17
  18. 18. C. Fowlkes, 2015 Our society has taught us, unfortunately, that loudness equals ratchet behavior instead of joy (black girls laughing in the hallways) or anger (blacks fighting each other in videos) 18
  19. 19. BlackPlanet.com 19
  20. 20. 20 NOT Ratchet.
  21. 21. Digital Cultural Practice Digital Social Media – one eyed rapper Cultural Commonplace – a respectful ode to Black women supporting their partners engaged in criminal enterprises; #2 on Billboard Hot 100 (25 weeks in top 10) Signifyin’ Discourse – typically a location where drugs are sold Political and Libidinal Content – wife of Ronald Reagan, whose anti-drug incarceration laws she complemented with an ineffectual anti-drug promotional campaign targeting children 21
  22. 22. Black Online Interiority = Ratchet Digital Practice = Black Technoculture 22
  23. 23. Thank you!! André Brock E: brocka@umich.edu Web: distributedblackness.net The Twitters: @docdre 23

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