ASA Lecture Series: Lisa Nakamura

The Queen of Myspace: Tila Tequila and the Birth of the Social Media Inattention Economy.
Mar 20, 2024, 4:30 pm6:30 pm


Event Description

Tila Tequila was not the first person to build a network around herself, but her elision from the history of social media implies that it was empty space because she, a queer woman of color, was the first to occupy it. 

In 2007, the dawn of the social media era, queer Vietnamese-American refugee Tila Tequila was the most popular person on the most popular website in the world: Myspace. She was both the first social media star and thus the first to experience what Taylor Lorenz describes as “the terrifying damage that the firehose of social media attention can inflict on a person,” and a woman of color whose wayward life was conditioned and influenced by U.S. militarism and its racialized misogyny, setting a precedent for a massive industry. In this talk I argue that her role and value as a queer woman of color content creator and subsequent erasure and ostracism from the history of digital innovation was not anomalous, but rather symptomatic. Social media enjoins users to adopt the position of a person with limited, revocable, and non-transparent rights, a position familiar to the refugee and a structural and legal move that licensed the misogynist and racist Internet that was to come.”