Category Archives: Reading Response

Rettberg: Chpts 6&7

After reading Rettberg’s chapter on types of blogs and the way in which advertisements and monetized incentives can affect blog content, I tried to think about how this applied to the blog that I read the most, /Film.  The blog is one where readers can get fresh info on new films that are in production or in theaters, as well as links to content such as trailers or behind-the-scenes video/images.

The first thing that came to mind after reading Rettberg, and specifically the story about the Walmart bloggers who were sponsored to drive across America by Walmart, was an instance on /Film when the unclear line was addressed.  I wanted to read a film review of a certain film that was soon to be released, but all I got was a story and an apology.  Apparently the writer who had been assigned to go to the press screening of the film ended up getting flown out to some fancy hotel, a free trip to some local attraction, and other certain perks to reviewing the film.  While he made it clear that very often in the film critic profession studios work very hard to make sure critics are happy when reviewing their films, the blogger had decided that his trip had been to extravagant and that to review the film would be unfair and impartial.  He apologized to readers who were hungry for info on the film.

While I was one of the people disappointed not to read about the movie, I respected the choice.  We are living in a culture now, and have seen this in class, where the rules are changing.  The golden rules of journalism don’t necessarily apply to web and sometimes it is unclear what is appropriate/professional when it comes to blogging and online journalism.  I think that rules are being formed, and that many are getting it right.  I just think the fact that this gray area was addressed in the blog shows that the writer was aware of the implications of what he writes and was attempting to maintain the rules that we need.

CW’s Mobile Strategy… (what is it?!)

The article about CW’s mobile marketing strategy blew my mind.  Not entirely because I think it’s kind of silly to be sending texts simultaneously as they appear on the screen, but more because it very much seemed to me like these executives had NO idea what they were talking about, what they were actually doing, or why they were doing it.  I will also add that I found the 50+ year old executive saying things like “WTF is jus the way we talk to each other, so let’s talk to the audience like that too” totally creepy.  Making huge decisions about the way your company will advertise its product based on a study in St. Louis where teens texted each other while in the same room?!  That just seems so crazy and not realistic.  I don’t want this post to be a bunch of generic comments with me calling them “crazy” so I will attempt to do some better analysis now…

I think that this article represents this still very young and transitional period that broadcasters and advertisers are in with the coming of digital media.  Much like the still occurring shakiness around Hulu and Hulu-like sites with the best ways to advertise and/or get subscribers, this mobile universe is another way in which media is expanding its reach to an extent that big executives like Mr. Haskins are trying to wrap their heads around.

I suppose that while my gut reaction to this article was to think that their methods are crazy and could not possibly work, my guess would be that they have invested a lot of money in researching and implementing this marketing strategy and the typically large corporations would not do that unless they thought it would work.  I guess time will tell, and we will have to see what fails and what sticks when the dust settles (but how long will that take?).

Jenkins: The Future of TV?

Jenkins’ article about the future of TV made me feel like I was supposed to be panicking about the uncertainty around the television medium.  Shows are on the internet, alternate reality games exist, DVR’s, Youtube, and Jay Leno Quotes… OH NO!

Okay, so maybe this is an exaggeration, but I still thought it was interesting how huge Jenkins made this shift of transmedia seem.  Are we even using televisions anymore? he asks.  I think that yes we are still using televisions and that yes the medium still exists even if we are taking it in in different ways, maybe everything is just a little more amplified.  Here is what I mean:

When thinking of classic television, the characteristics that I think of are “appointment watching” where people would rush to the TV set to watch their favorite shows at specific times.  While things like Tivo and Hulu have changed that practice, I think the emergence of social networks have helped to maintain the shared viewing experience that used to come from forced scheduling.  People watching Lost live so that they can tweet about it, or community screenings on second life are examples of this.  Another “classic television practice I think of is the TV guide.  While practically no one (except my mother) still reads TV guide, which used to be one of the highest read magazines, there are infinitely more sources for television watchers to read about shows, what is going to air, interviews with actors etc.  While the actual magazine is gone the ideas and practices have just expanded significantly with the freedom of the TV set.  Finally, I think of the idea of people having their favorite shows and forming practices around watching those shows.  Now more than ever uber-fans still have their favorite programs and have tons of practices (i.e. blogging, vidding, convention-ing etc) to go along with those favorites of theirs.

I agree that we may not be using the TV tube any more, but the practices of television are still alive more than ever

DJ Spooky

Both of the assigned activities from DJ Spooky had a common characteristic for me.  His article and his interactive audio/visual remix machine were two things that I thought were probably kind of cool, probably had an interesting message, but both I did not fully understand and was put-off by how confusing and alternative they were.  I am sure that with a careful analysis or maybe somebody flat out telling me the significance of either/both I would find them very cool and interesting, however I was kind of hoping for something more to the point.

This made me think about some of the other stuff we have looked at in class.  Remix videos with images flashing at me at rapid speeds, “Supernatural” vidding, and meta on top of meta articles/blogs.  I was thinking that sometimes I (and maybe other curious internet users out there) ever get bogged down by the way in which these auteurs get too complicated when presenting their argument.  If your remix vid that is trying to describe the significance of remix vids is so complicated and confusing that i don’t get it or don’t want anything to do with remix vidding, doesn’t that kind of defeat the purpose.

With DJ Spooky’s poetic academic analysis I would have much rather enjoyed a brief straight forward description of what he was talking about and then a sample of is image-heavy poetry.  When he combines both into one it makes me not care about either.

Rettberg: Chpt. 1&2

When starting Rettberg’s book about blogging I could not help but be bored and unimpressed with the descriptions of what a blog is and what the different types of blogs are.  Then came the very long description of the history of the printed word.  Once again I was pretty bored.  Then I had the realization that this shift from printed word to online text is a very significant one.  Looking back at the history of the printed word made me think of the significance that it might be on its way out.  I also realized that the reason I was so bored with the first chapter about blogging is because I am more or less fluent in the language of blogging.  This is not something that has always been the case.

I started to think about children growing up today who are learning how to blog, video post, listen to podcasts etc. at a time when I was simply learning how to read and write with good grammar.  It dawned on me that we really are in a different generation where the word “literacy” means and entirely different thing.  I understand that this realization is kind of a ‘DUH!’ realization but nonetheless it blew (a small part of) my mind to think about it.

This was the most interesting takeaway I got from Rettberg’s first two chapters, although it did make me feel kind of old and uncool that I had to read a description of what blogging is and how it works instead of being fully immersed in the cool new culture of already being completely literate in the language of online writing.

Rowlett: A thesis about what?

In the Epilogue of Rowlett’s article “They’re Letting You Write Your Thesis About That?” she says “Perhaps this is all a folly… Do metaphors of the organic incorrectly a connectness (this isn’t a real word) to human processes?”  After reading her work about how fan-fiction operates like a human stomach all I can respond with is: YES!  I did not think that the metaphor was at all necessary and personally I do not think that it applies and that it makes her whole argument/description very confusing.

What I would have enjoyed was a nice summary of what the different types of “fanfics” were, how they operate in online culture, and perhaps some examples.  These are things that she kind of includes in the article but all of that interesting stuff is hidden amongst a sea of stomach metaphors.  This was such a problem for me that I finished the reading without really understanding the point of it.  I now know that Xena online culture exists.  I know that there are fans of different genres of “fanfic.”  I know that there are fans on top of fans.  But that is all I really know.

I hate to be mean about someone’s thesis, but her actual thesis better be much more clear and interesting than this little description otherwise she probably got a D on it.

Felschow: Supernatural fans

As someone who has only ever dabbled in the art of cult fandom, I found it fascinating how in depth Felschow went in analyzing the fan culture of Supernatural.  To be perfectly honest (and maybe a little judgmental), I could not help but feel that this person who was clearly a big Supernatural fan was using long-winded, academic sounding, and source heavy writing to justify and legitimize her fandom.  I am fully aware that there is valid reason to investigate the cultural practices of cult fandom, I just am always filled with a little bit of hesitation when an actual fan writes about the amazing power that fans have and try to pass it as impartial academic analysis.

All that said, after watching the two episodes of Supernatural for our screening most of the references that I picked up on about fandom were seeming to make fun of fans.  Felschow made me think about the other side of the coin which is the way in which the references make nods or empower the fans.  After reading this article rethinking about the episodes I think that there definitely are elements of empowerment in addition to the jesting, the only problem is how do you do both without inevitably upsetting a large group of your fans?

I think that the difficulty that the Supernatural writers had with fan backlash was due to how in-your-face the references were.  Unlike fan cultures like Lost (which Felschow mentions), were fan participation occurs mostly online or through ARG’s where fans can choose to participate or not participate, the episodes of Supernatural forced fans to take a look at their own fandom.  My guess is that some fans do not like to look that closely in the mirror.

Fuller: Chpt 9 & Conclusion

Fuller concludes her book by discussing the writings of University of Chicago students in the late 1920’s.  Her last chapter analyzes the changing desires of students as they grew older and the way in which they took in cinema.  This concept of learning how to take in a media is one that is important but not necessarily addressed much.  Much of the writing that gets done about a given medium is coming from the point of view of someone who grew up with that medium and is looking back on his/her experiences.  Today media like video games or the internet are ones that generations were born into and know how to use just like they know how to speak a language.  What has been fascinating about learning about the first 20 years of the cinema was that it was a medium that was not inherently learned by the public.

Throughout the first two or three decades of cinema there was a constant “discussion” between the industry and the viewer about what role cinema would play in the United States.  Wether it be content, presentation, or participation it was a language that had to be solidified.  Fuller finishes her book with a conclusion talking about the coming of the talkies.  While I agree with Fuller’s last sentence, that the “discussion” between industry and viewer would continue after the introduction and acceptance of the talkie films, it is my general feeling that the coming of sound film also represents a time when the film industry finally had a good grasp on what they wanted, what the viewers and fans wanted, and the best ways to meet both their needs.

Fuller: Chpts 7&8

After reading Fuller’s two chapters about movie fan magazines, the two themes that I found to be the most noteworthy were the shift of the idea of what a “fan” was, and the importance of consumerism throughout the evolution of culture and the magazines that fostered them.

In examining Motion Picture Story Magazine, Fuller describes a change in content that occurred in the late teen/early 20’s.  The magazine that used to be filled with technical descriptions of filmmaking, behind-the-scenes looks, and large sections dedicated to fan participation started to disappear and were replaced by stories about actors and actresses and even things like “Ladies fads and fancies.”  This shift seems relevant to me because it shows two different types of film fans, the technical, sophisticated, and somewhat pretentious fan versus the simpler, more consumer driven fan.  I think that today both fan still exists.  With the first type of fan being the one who follows film blogs, reads very specific magazines, and participates in group activities related to fandom whether that be online or at festivals/conferences.  The other type of fan is maybe more likely to read gossip magazines about what celebrity lives are like.  What I found interesting about the shift of Motion Picture Story Magazine was that while I know that there is a market for both types of fan (as is made clear by present times) the magazine editors found the latter type of fan to be the one that could make them more money.  This theme of heavy consumerism amongst fans was further illustrated in Fuller’s next chapter about Photoplay magazine and how it ended up being a very influenced by advertising (and vise versa how advertising was affected by the introduction of film fan magazines).

Pattullo: Narative/Spectacle in Hollywood Musicals

Pattullo brings up a very interesting comparison that seems so very relevant to our class discussions about the integration of spectacle and narrative.  While I am no expert on musicals, Gene Kelley, or Busby Berkeley, the works that I have seen from both choreographers and Pattullo’s descriptions were very helpful in visualizing and analyzing Pattullo’s point.

When it comes to the integration of spectacle into the narrative of a film we have already examined how the two started off as very separate concepts that began to work together more and more during the evolution of early cinema.  A common occurrence that we have seen in many of our screenings so far are elements of spectacle and astonishment loosely connected by a narrative.  This is seen when comedic bits or special effects have a spectacle all on their own but are strung together by a narrative.  While I would not simplify the works of Berkeley to such an extreme, this is closer to how I would describe his show-within-a-show, “backstage” musical.  Musical numbers are choreographed and stand on their own, and often times take place on a stage our in a studio.  The audience gets hooked in to the story and a feeling of participation because of their behind-the-scenes point of view.  They then feel more active when the numbers are performed, almost as if the spectacle that is being presented had something to do with them.  This effect is one that could only work in the aggregated style of spectacle and narrative that Berkeley uses.

Gene Kelley on the other hand worked harder to make the spectacle of the musical numbers come about smoothly and organically within the narrative.  This allows the characters to actually further the narrative with their dancing, and to express strong emotion through spectacle.  While this is a very strong approach and one that works well within Hollywood, it does not necessarily have the same audience participation effect.  I am excited to watch “Singing in the Rain!”