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Call for Papers:

Flow Volume 27 Special Issue: “TikTok as a Cultural Forum”


Over the past several months, social media platform TikTok has seen an
enormous surge in users and popularity while simultaneously becoming the
focus of concerns over national and digital security risks. While its users
remain skewed to the teenage demographic, the app has disrupted a number of
media industries and sparked cultural controversy. In the music industry,
going viral on TikTok has become a prerequisite for singles hoping to chart
on the Billboard Hot 100 and in television, the app has entered the
streaming wars. Chinese parent company ByteDance named Kevin Mayer,
formerly in charge of streaming at Disney, as CEO of TikTok in June, and
Netflix recently refined its quarterly new subscribers forecast in part due
to what it perceives as
<https://qz.com/1881983/netflix-says-tiktok-is-now-a-major-competitor/>
TikTok’s astounding growth. But TikTok is only the latest new media
application to affect legacy media industries. TikTok’s rise is replicating
changes ushered in to user-generated and professional video content by
platforms like YouTube, Vine, and Snapchat. And as a social networking
platform, TikTok offers a new avenue for grassroots activism, community
formation, and builds seemingly overnight fame for its breakout stars.
However, it also exists within a contested digital space, in which concerns
have been raised over cultural appropriation, privacy, online toxicity, and
racism.


This inaugural issue of Flow’s twenty-seventh volume, “TikTok as a Cultural
Forum,” asks media scholars to consider the rise of TikTok from cultural,
industrial, technological, digital, political, historical, and national
lenses. This special issue raises the question of what makes TikTok unique
in its rapid ascent to cultural ubiquity and aims to assess the cultural
and industrial impacts of TikTok’s rise. How might the proliferation of
TikTok force scholars to rethink the significance of digital identities
through lenses of race, gender, and sexual orientation? In what ways does
the white co-optation of choreography and language by Black creators find
historical precedent in legacies of cultural appropriation, disputes over
authorial credit, and discrepancies in how cultural production and
audiences are valued within the media industries? How might we discuss the
connections between teen and young adult mental health, TikTok community
formation, and social distancing during a global health pandemic? What are
the responsibilities and practices of platforms like TikTok to stand
against being a host of online toxicity, white supremacy, and other
extremist groups in online spaces? How is TikTok activism different from
past forms of online advocacy and community organizing? How and to what
extent are established media brands rethinking digital content strategies
to incorporate or compete against TikTok? Possible topics include, but are
by no means limited to:



   -

   Trailblazing texts, sounds, dances, and figures on TikTok
   -

   Digital identities, influencer branding, celebrity, and
   professionalization
   -

   Authorship, “Sounds,” and Choreography
   -

   TikTok Challenges and Trends
   -

   Race, Gender, and LGBTQ constructs on TikTok
   -

   Algorithms, Filters, and Technology
   -

   TikTok activism, social change, and political communication
   -

   The music industry, artist promotion, and viral singles
   -

   Policy and discourses of digital security in global/national regulation
   of TikTok
   -

   Terms of Service and Copyright on Platforms
   -

   Generational divides
   -

   TikTok and comedy
   -

   Historical comparisons of Tiktok to other media forms


To be considered for this timely issue, please submit a completed short
essay of 1200-1500 words, along with at least three images (.gif or .png)
or embeddable video/audio links. We will be able to embed TikTok videos
into the column, so please feel free to be creative! Send your column,
media files or links, and a short bio, to Maggie Steinhauer and Nathan
Rossi at [log in to unmask] <[log in to unmask]> by Sunday,
September 13th, 2020. The Special Issue will be published at flowjournal.org
<http://www.flowjournal.org/> on Tuesday, October 6, 2020.

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