From raped childhood to ruined childhood: Developing an aesthetic of childhood trauma in digital culture from 2001 to 2018

Authors

  • Bethany Rose Lamont Central Saint Martins, University of the Arts London

DOI:

https://doi.org/10.5210/fm.v27i6.11615

Keywords:

Ruined Childhood, The Toast, Cracked, Something Awful, Memes, Nostalgia, Creepypasta, Lost episodes, Hauntology

Abstract

This 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.

Author Biography

Bethany Rose Lamont, Central Saint Martins, University of the Arts London

Writer, lecturer and researcher exploring themes of trauma, mental health and popular culture. Her work has previously been published in Galactica Media, Blind Field Journal, Iowa Journal of Cultural Studies as well as in the Palgrave Macmillan volume Discourses of anxiety over childhood and youth across cultures (edited by Liza Tsaliki and Despina Chronaki). She is the editor in chief and founder of the art and literature journal Doll Hospital, and the co-producer of Sad Girl Cinema, a feature length documentary on representations of mental health in film and television.

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Published

2022-06-04

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