English and Philosophy
College of Humanities and Fine Arts
Contemporary meme culture keeps Keanu Reeves’ image at the forefront of our imagination. Numerous Keanu-related memes circulate on the internet, featuring images of him from on and off screen. In this article, we argue that the rise of user-generated content, such as memes and social media, requires us to reconsider how audiences and fans consume, adapt, and circulate Keanu’s stardom. Specifically, we contend that memes and their attending participatory culture make Keanu familiar by placing him in knowable spaces and perpetuating his extraordinary ordinariness. To do so, we examine the 2019 ‘Keanu Reeves Walking in Slow Motion’ video clip from Always by My Maybe and the memes generated by users. First, we explore the purpose of celebrity memes and participatory culture, examining the ways in which Keanu’s image and persona is defined within this culture. Second, using a cross-media analysis, we define the recent meme genre ‘audioshop’, and explore how ‘Keanu Reeves Walking in Slow Motion’ enables audiences to use their prior knowledge of Keanu’s persona to more fully engage with the meme and its possible interpretations. Finally, we discuss how meme culture objectifies and commodifies celebrity, arguing that celebritisation through meme production amplifies Keanu’s persona and cross-media presence.
Nielsen, Danielle and Nititham, Diane Sabenacio, "Celebrity memes, audioshop, and participatory fan culture: a case study on Keanu Reeves memes" (2022). Faculty & Staff Research and Creative Activity. 183.
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