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In this essay, I argue that the stories from Columbine and Virginia Tech in the U.S. and Jokela High School in Finland betray a disconcerting dystopia of user-generated content gone wrong at a moment of much Web 2.0 hype. I use their actions and the subsequent reaction as case-study portals into an era of celebrity anarchy and narcissistic youth. I then contextualize these youth shooters within a generational context of purported narcissism—suggesting that their attacks are both premeditated as well as premediated. I conclude by pondering the challenges journalists face in complying with youth shooters' demand for celebrity and the possibility that, in the self-broadcasting world of Web 2.0, their role as gatekeepers may be more confounded than ever.


Copyright 2010 Wiley-Blackwell.

This is a pre-print of an article accepted for publication in Communication, Culture, & Critique (3, 3, 2010). The definitive version is available at

Publication Title

Communication, Culture, & Critique

Published Citation

Serazio, Michael. 2010. Shooting for fame: Spectacular youth, web 2.0 dystopia, and the celebrity anarchy of generation mash-up. Communication, Culture, & Critique 3 (3) 416-434.