Were I white or male or of a higher class, it is possible that I could leverage the adage that all press is good press. The negative effects of microcelebrity are transformed into positive attention when made legible through bodies and identities more closely aligned to the assumed “natural” embodiment of rationality, intelligence and ability. That is to say that the difference between a black woman muckraking with an academic library card can be read differently than muckraking by white elite graduate students at new media outlets like Jacobin or in the public rendering of Evgeny Morozov. The social locations of these persons conforms to the natural embodiment of intellectual critique that affords them a legitimacy rooted in academic legitimacy even when they are not yet or still academics. But, as the literature on social isolation of black women in academic communities attests, there is a conceptual framework for legitimate intelligence that situates gender x race as negatively correlated with expertise. To extend this conceptual causal chain to the digital context, microcelebrity would interact with gender x race x expertise in ways that mediates the assumed value of attention in an attention economy. Put simply, all press is good press for academic microcelebrities if their social locations conform to racist sexist norms of who should be expert. For black women who do not conform to normative expectations of “expert”, microcelebrity is potentially negative.

Tressie McMillan Cottam, “Who the Fuck Do You Think You Are?: Academic Engagement, Microcelebrity, and Digital Sociology from the Far Left of the Matrix of Domination”