For the Lulz: Anonymous, Aesthetics and Affect

Rodrigo Ferrada Stoehrel, Simon Lindgren

Abstract


The focus of this paper is on different but connected areas of power – relating to things such as economic globalisation, surveillance, censorship/freedom, ‘terrorism’ and/or specific military activity – visually represented through online media, and intentionally produced to inform a wide spectrum of individuals and interest groups about global and local social injustices. Or, more importantly, produced and distributed with the purpose of providing users with possibilities to engage, bodily and emotionally, in diverse ways: may it be through physical antiwar/anti-wall street protests or hacktivist tactics (e.g. DDoS attacks).

We examine a sample of videos, photographs and propaganda posters produced, and digitally distributed (2008-2013), by the fragmented body of activists united globally under the generic name of Anonymous. Analytically, we will draw upon Mouffe’s thoughts on ‘antagonism’ and ‘passion,’ Foucault’s ideas on international citizenship and the (ethical) ‘right to intervene’ (beyond governmentality), together with Sontag’s notion of institutional political inertia and the Deleuzian/Spinozian perspective on affect as a capacity for action. The goal is to analyse the ways in which Anonymous systematically inspire (not only) the radical and social imaginary but also other direct forms of action that have potential societal effects.


Keywords


Anonymous, Aesthetics, Affect, Hacktivism, Hacker Culture, Resistance, Dissent, Passion, Lulz, YouTube, Twitter, Social Media, Popular Culture, Power, Globalisation, Surveillance, Censorship, Freedom, Terrorism, Counter-Hegemony, Counter-Discourse

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