Ross: Power to the People? Or to the Industry?

As filmic technology improves and methods of tele-participation grow and evolve, the lines between the industry and the audience shift and blur. It seems, generally speaking, that over time, the people have gained more control in what the industry produces, keeps in the line up, and renews at the end of each season, yet how is it that the “Man” has relinquished so much of his power to us little people in a world controlled by profit? Well, simply put – he hasn’t.

The studio, the network, the industrial machine of digital and HD, they want us THINK we hold the fate of television in our hands, the truth is, as soon as we forge ahead towards viewer independence, they find a new way to market, package, and manipulate our tastes – turning the false security of personal choice into the profitable systematic production of mainstream consumerist drivel. It’s the same thing media does to trends in music, fashion, and other forms of culture, the mainstreaming of the counterculture, and the adaptation of independent desires into hetero-normative profit driven industry.

Yet it remains VERY important to those in charge that we feel important in the production process. Not to use the same old tired examples over and over again but FOX’s response of denial to rumors of Arrested Development’s cancellation in 2005 is a prime example of the industry’s false empathy for the viewer; the show was cancelled 6 months later. In the end, the network will always make the choices that result in profit.

However, that doesn’t mean we’re moving in reverse; the audience has certainly made notable headway in our ability to control the direction of television and filmic content. Increased fan visibility on the internet has lead to better industry measurements of viewership, and the prevalence of multi-media conversational platforms has allowed for constant the constant debate and remixing of preexisting content.

So the networks are listening, yes, but then why are critically acclaimed shows taken off the air? The real indication of viewer power would be a world in which GOOD shows, well written, witty, and unique shows got the chance to grow into their fan bases. Terribly imbalanced advertising funds, strange time slots and lack of network support are only a few of the obstacles facing any show’s chance at success.

There are too many industy factors outside the bound of audience control for the “little people,” the fans, to gain real or substantial input in the televisual process.

Yet this is not to say we are powerless, if our voices are loud enough we may be able to make a dent in what is produced and consumed, how large a dent it is however, depends on if the numbers align with our passion.