YouTube maven Mamrie Hart has over 300,000 subscribers on two different channels. Her career started on her channel “You Deserve a Drink” where she makes cocktails and incorporates a drinking game every time she makes a celebrity pun. Her satirical and witty personality and success on that channel allowed her to launch “Mametown”. On this channel and, in particular, her video “Ten Dollar Haul, Yall” she displays her cultural capital as a smart, crafty comedienne who finds value, appreciation, and ironic sophistication in items from a dollar store. She remixes Peterson and Kern’s notion of cultural capital as the ability to aesthetically evaluate cultural objects on their own terms. She treats the dollar store as its own environment for exploration and adventurous consumption. She looks for value and unique qualities within the dollar store items to bring out their “usefulness” and expression for individuality and resourceful spending.

Before even exploring what she bought at the dollar store, she divulges that she is “rocking a hoodie, long johns, and a Biggie-Smalls shirt” and that her audience does not even know how “street” she is. She is already playing on the irony that she is wearing a shirt, from Forever 21, with a Hip-Hop legend on it. This juxtaposition and Mamrie’s acknowledgement of it allows her to convince the audience that she does not take herself too seriously, yet also that she appreciates the oddity and eclecticism of style. The first item from her haul is a pack of Googly Eyes, which is “so much fun, for $1.29”. She encourages the viewers to treat themselves, as spending more than a dollar at the dollar store would be worth it. Splurging for the nice Googly Eyes not only shows Mamrie’s appreciation for a valued product, but also how it is an opportunity to use the product for a greater variety of uses (crafts, as eyes when you want to nap in class). Other items in the haul include a cat play glove that is Christmas themed, a light up sword that won’t turn on, and a party popper. She also hauls a wind-up chicken toy that exposes the geographic based lifestyle of the dollar store. Mamrie explains, “You know you live in Brooklyn when your wind up chickens are hipsters.” She goes on to question the chicken as to whether it is late to its job as a coffee shop barista, whether it is going to a passion pit concert, or whether it likes the show Girls. With this list of hypotheticals, albeit directed at a toy chicken, Mamrie demonstrates her understanding of the hipster lifestyle, while simultaneously distancing herself from it as she talks about the lifestyle in jest with a sarcastic tone.

She posted a second Ten Dollar Haul video, specifically directed at getting ready for a “Hawt Date”. This video is obviously gendered, as her first two haul items are a cosmetic kit and a southern belle hat. She explores the cosmetic kit as a consumption object that gives the woman the power to be “super pretty” but also prepare for heartache. In referencing the tiny pack of tissues included, “These are great in case you get stood up.” The versatility she finds within this dollar store cosmetic kit allows Mamrie to reveal her appreciation of consumption conceptions of beauty but also rejecting them by sarcastically mocking the packaging and presentation of the kit. Mamrie demonstrates how consumers construct their lifestyles not just through purchases but through the ways we consume. She explains how the southern belle hat allows the opportunity to “transform yourself into Julia Sugarbaker from Designing Women.” Constructing her own narrative, Mamrie consumes the hat in a particular way and embodies her consumption by knowing how to manipulate the dollar store purchases into fashionable, playful commodities. The rest of this “Hawt Date” video has Mamrie hauling a picture frame to give as a gift on a date (even using the photo already in the frame), a romantic movie (The Great Rupert) to “give yourself the chance to snuggle in,” and a bok choy bath stopper in which “nothing says ‘we about to do it’ like a dark leafy green”. Mamrie Hart establishes her brand on YouTube as an atypical beauty vlogger. She is not going to deliver conventional lifestyle tips or popular culture endorsements. Rather, she uses pop culture as a reference point in her sarcastic and witty cocktail and haul videos. She plays on established lifestyles and repurposes the expected conventions of consumption to create unique haul videos. These videos help to distinguish her YouTube brand as one with distinctive tastes, skills (the ability to find deals and steals at a dollar store), knowledges (the cultural knowledge she exhibits and her acuteness to consumption practices/groups), and practices that elevate her to Holt’s understanding of a high cultural capital producer and consumer.

Advertisements