Respond to one of the two prompts below. Your initial post should be about 200 words and directly respond to the prompt. Each initial post must make at least one reference to a reading, including the page number. Note that the 200-word limit is intended to keep your responses concise and focused on the topic. Verbosity will not be rewarded.
1. Analyze a media text of your choice using textual analysis, audience studies, or political economy.
2. When have you consumed a transmedia extension or storytelling? Across what media?
This Week: Media Matters + Convergence
Through the materials and assignments this week, you’ll be able to:
appreciate the need for media literacy requiring cultural knowledge.
recognize that all media are constructions representing a point-of-view.
value media consumption as a productive act of interpretation.
reflect on media as an everyday practice.
distinguish technological convergence from content convergence.
examine the forms and purposes of transmedia extensions.
Campbell, Richard, et al., “Cultural Approaches to Media Research.” (see in uploaded files)
Mikos, Lothar. “Television Drama and Transmedia Storytelling in an Era of Convergence.” (see in uploaded files)
Media Matters Video Supplement
“Good Ideas Deserve to be Found: A (Slightly) Life-Changing Story” (2022)
Meta is Facebook and Instagram’s parent company, and this music video-style ad extols the utopian effects of its apps. It starts off with pretty familiar claims about “infinite possibilities” and its benefits on personal fulfillment and actualization. Soon enough, however, it moves into claims I personally hadn’t seen in a social media ad before, especially how it helps foster, “A world where personalized ads help good ideas get found.” Wild. Of course, most representations of Meta’s data-sharing practices are decidedly less celebratory (https://www.washingtonpost.com/technology/2022/05/23/racine-zuckerberg-privacy/). Meanwhile, this Apple ad (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NOXK4EVFmJY) presents a different–but still utopian–claim about the internet: that it was bad (because of invasive data surveillance), but now it’s getting better (due to Apple’s iPhone data protection options).
“Welcome to the Internet” (2021)
Maybe you’ve already heard this Bo Burnham song. When considering a dystopian representation of the internet, I thought of supplying a clip from a documentary (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uaaC57tcci0), news segment (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xvmeizvQILc), or piece of fiction (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=R32qWdOWrTo). Instead, I settled on Burnham’s depiction of the internet as “everything all of the time.” What specific complaints does he make of the internet, and what are its harms? Where do you agree? Where do you disagree? The whole Netflix special from which the song derives (Inside) is worth watching for his acerbic take on the internet, social media, influencer practices, and mediated communication. Is it dystopian cynicism or earned critique?
“What Are We Afraid Of? Societal Fears Reflected in Film” (2016)
Now You See It’s video essay adopts the mirror perspective of media (note the “reflected” in its title). Focusing primarily on monster, zombie, and supernatural movies, the video argues that expensive film productions must represent the public interest (in this instance, public fears) in order to recoup their tremendous budgets. While informative, note that discussions of mediamaker agency are absent from this video. Are mediamakers really relegated to merely reflecting larger social concerns?
“Murder Show” (2021)
This SNL sketch deals with the “true crime” genre (AKA a “murder show”). The humor derives from the seeming contradiction between its conventionally gristly plots and the banality of its consumption amongst the genre’s fans (here presented (https://www.theguardian.com/lifeandstyle/2019/aug/20/rachel-monroe-savage-appetites-true-crime-book-interview) as women (https://www.nytimes.com/2019/07/16/books/review/kate-tuttle-true-crime-women.html). We’ll talk about genre next week, so now I want you to focus how this representation connects to media and everyday life–what media we prefer and how and when we use it as part of our everyday pleasures, routines, and experiences. What’s your “murder show” equivalent? Do you have a favorite genre, type of media, or media practice you use relax and unwind? Why? Want to watch another reasonably funny SNL sketch? This one (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=v8jHMyNBMYU) on TikTok explores similar territory as it lampoons many of the app’s most popular genres/video forms while depicting the circumstances of its consumption (here as procrastination/wasting time).
Convergence Video Supplement
“David Lynch on iPhone” (2007)
Not all mediamakers are equally enthusiastic about the possibilities of content convergence. Acclaimed writer/director David Lynch included the following short on the DVD release of his experimental film Inland Empire. He obviously wasn’t excited about the then-burgeoning new practice of watching movies and TV on your phone.
“Episode 1: The Books Don’t Balance” (2006)
Remember when I talked about how transmedia storytelling can manifest as internet video shorts (AKA “web series” AKA “webisodes”) featuring members of the supporting cast? Here’s an early example—the first in a series of ten chapters. The Office: The Accountants dropped weekly on NBC’s website over the summer of 2006 (between seasons of its parent show).
“Star Wars: Galactic Starcruiser Tells A New Story” (2022)
Okay, so in the lecture I mentioned that Galaxy’s Edge, the Disney Star Wars land, was in continuity and tells a story that takes place between the last two films in the latest trilogy. I recorded the lecture in January 2020 and, well, that turned out not to be the case. Why? Baby Yoda. Baby Yoda (yes, I know he’s actually named Grogu) and merchandise in his likeness are all over Galaxy’s Edge. The problem: the story of Baby Yoda as told in The Mandalorian takes place decades earlier than the narrative depicted in Galaxy’s Edge. Disney, however, will try this immersive, interactive form of transmedia storytelling again via an (expensive) hotel stay. Indeed, as the video claims, the experience allows guests to “actually shape the events of the story” and features an interaction between Kylo Ren and Rey, who “meet up again for probably the first and maybe the only time between those two films.” Heck, there’s even a comic prequel–what must be the world’s first transmedia tie-in to a hotel.
“Baby Yoda BUT With Subtitles” (2020)
And here he is, Baby Yoda. Watch at least some of this unauthorized transmedia extension. It’s worth noting that the video is massively popular (as is Baby Yoda content in many manifestations). As of my writing this, people have viewed this first video 28 million times and there are (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Gy0n_U6sXDE) three (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IZkxBwoPTds) more (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rV_qtvKu-uM) (so far). What does this mean? Millions of people–millions are interested in seeking out, consuming, and sharing Baby Yoda content, including that which is made by content creators outside the authority of Disney/Lucasfilm.