MAPACA

Mid-Atlantic Popular &
American Culture Association

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SKAM: Shame in the Internet Era

Abstract: 

SKAM is a Norwegian web series created by Julie Andem that hit the Internet in 2015 with no promotion or prelude. Given its abrupt start, it’s almost hard to believe the extraordinary popularity the series has enjoyed since its inception, with millions of viewers worldwide and 6 spinoff series in various countries, including one set in Austin, Texas. In a world oversaturated with more glossy, high-budget teen dramas than ever before, SKAM is a refreshingly honest look at teenage life. This is in large part due to the efforts the show makes towards realism through the aesthetics of the production, the irregular release of clips from the show, and the role technology plays in the lives of its main characters. Because it places so much emphasis on believability, it is easier to sympathize and identify with the challenges each character faces, and for the show to have an impact on the lives of real teenagers. For instance, in a season two story arc, one character stands up to a sexual harasser, protecting herself both safely and effectively against his abuse. These episodes capture the fear and shame that often go hand in hand with cases of sexual assault, while still assuring girls in similar situations that they are not alone in their experiences, nor are they helpless. Rather than giving into scenes of gratuitous violence for the sake of entertainment, it strikes a careful and deliberate balance between realism and entertainment. This same balance is used to address many other issues during the show’s four season run, such as coming out, eating disorders, religious intolerance, mental illness, and more. Unlike so many popular teen dramas today, SKAM’s advantage is that it favors authenticity over pure intrigue, which is why it has been so successful in the age of the internet.

Presentation type: 
Paper
Scheduled on: 
Friday, November 9, 11:00 am to 12:15 pm

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