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Letter from Los Angeles - The Anxiety of Influencers, By Barrett Swanson | Harper’s Magazine:

Not to sound like an English professor or anything, but as a professor of English, I can’t help thinking of Walter Benjamin’s “The Work of Art in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction.” Benjamin suggests that fascistic governments aim to maintain the status quo by providing citizens with the means to express themselves aesthetically without reforming their lives materially. Thus the aforementioned government that Brandon thinks TikTokers have scared shitless actually, as Benjamin writes, “sees its salvation in granting expression to the masses—but on no account granting them rights.” More to the point, any countercultural voltage these influencers purport to possess gets nullified by the fact that they have clear incentives not to talk about controversial matters, lest they get dropped by their brands. “I don’t talk about politics at all,” Brandon says. “It’s like there’s always another opinion. It’s always better to be neutral. I feel like everybody avoids politics on social media. Besides that, though, everyone feels like they have a voice.”

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