Rituals about the Skin: Comments on pimple popping videos

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Pimple popping videos on YouTube draw a large number of views and comments. Using Critical Thematic Analysis, this paper analyses comments on the videos to understand why these films are so compelling for some viewers. Building on the insights of skin studies, I argue that the satisfaction that viewers experience is linked to (1) the nature of disgust (involving both aversion and fascination); (2) the visual close up framing of the videos (that produces a skin scape distinct from an identifiable person); (3) the nature of skin as a permeable boundary (such that acne is both inside and outside) and (4) the framing of extractions as a medical procedures (involving authority and ritual). Dirt is usually matter out of place, but in these films the waste matter that is pus and sebum is given a space of its own.
Original languageEnglish
JournalSocial Semiotics
Early online date6 Oct 2020
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 6 Oct 2020

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