Nick Douglas: Internet Ugly

“Internet Ugly, although not the only core aesthetic of the internet, is the one that best defines the internet against all other media. It is certainly the core aesthetic of memetic internet content. The ugliness of the amateur internet doesn’t destroy its credibility because it’s a byproduct of the medium’s advantages (speed and lack of gatekeepers), and even its visual accidents are prized by its most avid users and creators. As opposed to media like TV or print, where the amateurish is marginalized and audience attention centers on mainstream blockbusters, the internet is built to give outsized attention to the amateurish, the accidental, and the surprise hit. Creators with no traditional skill or talent often become online celebrities for their work, and creators with skill or talent often suppress their abilities or manufacture amateurish conditions to better achieve the Internet Ugly aesthetic. But as we’ll see, such work isn’t simple cooption but a creative choice accepted and celebrated by the online audience – so long as it still retains a certain authenticity.” Nick Douglas, “It’s Supposed to Look Like Shit: The Internet Ugly Aesthetic“, in Journal of Visual Culture, December 16, 2014