Twitter users’ responses to the 2013 Paula Deen “N-word” scandal offer a rich site for examining how racial dynamics shape collective performances in digital spaces. Focusing on the tweets inspired by the #PaulasBestDishes hashtag, this article first shows how these vernacular forms of expression playfully engaged with Deen’s image system in order to speak back to the broader cultural discourses around racism in the present day. Second, it examines how the complex racial dynamics in the United States informed not only the content, but also the social context of these tweets, attending specifically to how differential identity served as the social base of this collective digital performance. Ultimately, this article identifies new avenues of inquiry for gaining a greater understanding of the dynamics of digital performance within a cultural context shaped by social difference and ongoing racial tensions.

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