From raped childhood to ruined childhood: Developing an aesthetic of childhood trauma in digital culture from 2001 to 2018
Keywords:Ruined Childhood, The Toast, Cracked, Something Awful, Memes, Nostalgia, Creepypasta, Lost episodes, Hauntology
AbstractThis article examines the development of the Ruined Childhood genre of online comedy from 2001 to the early to mid 2010s. This cross-media genre of internet humour, and horror, hinges on the corruption of American childhood media for the nostalgic, and often white, masculinist coded, adult fan. This subject is explored with the intention of understanding how an aesthetic of exaggerated negative affect is both identified and expressed within a parodic online context, before situating such performances within wider systems of power, commercial identity and nationalism. This is identified as a percussor to later media panics surrounding ‘cancel culture’ and childhood media. The article then explains how an analogue aesthetic of disrupted nostalgia can be analysed and understood through Simon Reynolds and Mark Fisher’s theory of hauntology. Key examples in the explored in the article include the Photoshop contests on Something Awful, Cracked Listicles, and Creepypasta lost episodes.
How to Cite
Lamont, B. R. (2022). From raped childhood to ruined childhood: Developing an aesthetic of childhood trauma in digital culture from 2001 to 2018. First Monday, 27(6). https://doi.org/10.5210/fm.v27i6.11615
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