Viral Violence: Pleasures of Violence

Jaime Garcia Iglesias

Research output: Contribution to conferencePaper


Bugchasing, the fetishization of HIV infection, has been the focus of much academic research (e.g. Dean 2009). Bugchasers contribute abundantly to social media (Twitter, Tumblr, forums, chats, etc.). Their online interactions have been considered by researchers as evidencing an underlying narrative of self-harm, abuse, and sex addiction to the bugchasing groups (e.g. Moskowitz and Roloff 2007). This reading is sustained by frequent visual imagery depicting rough, unprotected sex, non-consensual sex, BDSM and fisting, among others (Lee 2014). However, no research has been conducted in how users themselves consume these materials, interpret them and negotiate their meanings.This paper explores how bugchasers engage with these materials through a lens of fantasy and playfulness (see Dean 2015, Paasonen 2018). The product of twenty in-depth interviews with self-identified bugchasers, this presentation showcases several users’ personal narratives of their use of Twitter and other online sites to consume and create pornographic materials. In particular, I explore how these users critically engage with these materials, their awareness of its constructed character and their views of the commercial and material politics that underlie their interactions online.These personal narratives explicit the potential of ‘fantasy’ as a way of conceptualizing these online engagements with violent materials. In so doing, I complicate simplistic assumptions of mindless consumption and instead propose a model where online violence is produced and consumed in nuanced, fluid and, at times, paradoxical ways. Overall, this paper evidences the value of empirical engagements alongside media analyses to better comprehend the role violence plays in online spaces and its relationship to sexual pleasures.
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusPublished - 7 Mar 2019


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