Video: Xuenan Cao on ‘Bullet Screens (Danmu)’

Xuenan Cao introduces the article ‘Bullet Screens (Danmu): Texting, Online Streaming, and the Spectacle of Social Inequality on Chinese Social Networks’


For theorists interested in screen cultures and the digital economy, looking beyond Facebook and YouTube prompts a more refined conceptualization of participation and monetization on social networks. This paper examines YY as representative of Chinese platforms that monetize spectacles of social inequality. I first discuss why these financially successful platforms have eluded the attention of media and cultural critics, and then explain how these social network platforms blend subversive texting with streaming through a format called ‘bullet screen’. This format collapses social inequality into a spectacle of money flowing and vanishing on screen. This investigation contributes to the theoretical discussion of mixed-semiotics, reorients several Marxian neologisms and explains what texting means on screen in both semiotic and economic terms.

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