A Careful Whisper: Neoliberalism, Roleplay ASMR Videos, and ‘Innocent Intimacy’
This paper works to understand the rhetorical operations at work within the recent and growing phenomenon of roleplay ASMR videos on YouTube. Specifically, using generic criticism, it argues that roleplay ASMR constitutes a rhetorical genre that operates through an ordering principle of ‘innocent intimacy’, made possible by modern technology and facilitated by the isolating and disaggregating influences of neoliberalism. Roleplay ASMR presenters work rhetorically to invoke disarming, comforting, and calming feelings of intimacy that are reminiscent of an idealized childhood experience. Generic criticism is employed on a set of seven videos to substantiate this argument. This paper thereby concludes that the rhetorical action found in roleplay ASMR videos is novel insofar as it represents generic rhetoric supplanting organic dialogical intimacy, something that is only recently been made possible through online media such as YouTube.