Intimate distractions: Fleabag’s manipulations of audience attention

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review

Abstract

Phoebe Waller-Bridge’s series Fleabag (BBC/Amazon Prime, 2016-‘19) has been praised for its revitalization of direct address. Whereas this device is often used to foster intimacy between character and audience, I argue that Fleabag problematizes this. I examine the nature of Fleabag’s address through the lens of habits of constant connectivity in online attention economies in conjunction with gendered norms of self-representation on social media, and their impact on the nature and modes of human attention. Through a textual and cinematic analysis with attention to editing, camera, mode of address, and acting, I claim that Fleabag’s attention-seeking performance enforces an intimacy that is gradually revealed to serve as a distraction, and that this is reinforced by the show’s entire aesthetic. By foregrounding these issues, and through its aesthetic of distraction, Fleabag investigates the relational implications of multi-tasking lives and probes the boundaries of contemporary attention.

Original languageEnglish
Number of pages13
JournalContinuum
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 19 Mar 2021

Keywords

  • Attention
  • distraction
  • self-representation
  • social media
  • television series

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