Tag Archives: User-Penetrated Content: Fan Video in the Age of Convergence

Crisis Management

There is no such thing as bad press, right? So if fans “celebrate, critique and de-or-reconstruct” (126) mass media texts of their choice, is that really a bad thing? Wait, wait, WAIT! Do they even have the right to do all these things? The post-network era and the accessibility of tools used for text creation have caused publicity to be a double-edged sword for the media industry. Why? Because the creator of the product is not in control of its publicity.

Yes, these fans are just everyday folk who are a just a little too savvy at Final Cut Pro and iMovie (negative language intentional for sarcastic effects), but we have seen too often how a homemade video of something as silly as a child saying “blood” over and over again can spread across the Web like a plague. In today’s world, these videos have the potential to be just as influential as Bono or Angelina Jolie. They too can adopt a celebrity, or almost cultish, status.

At the same time, if you are a producer and the viral video on your show has over a million hits on youtube, then that’s free advertising. But the people making these iterations of existing texts aren’t commissioned by the industry. In a sense, they are in competition with the industry’s hired writers and creative boards. They are unpaid labor. They are even taking someone else’s work to make their own? Where I’m from, that’s called stealing. On the other hand, the industry is also scoping out websites and adapting what you and me are making for their own commercial purposes. So the former is a sort of Robin Hood-esque thievery and the latter is what a socialist’s brief looks like.

So now who is the consumer and who is the producer? How can anyone maintain a distinction? I’m thinking of the olden days when the industry held screenwriting contests not only to control the mass scripts fans mailed in, but also to utilize the creativity that was sitting right in their mailboxes. Surely, this is being done with Batttle Star Galactica and other medias. Producers are posting clips and sound bits on their website and asking fans to create their own texts. This extends to other industries as well, Nine Inch Nails did the same on their website for their music. However, these efforts have not quelled fan ambition. Can this creativity even be put to rest? Do we buy off youtube, the largest and most recognized platform for remixes? That’s just wrong in all realms of internet morality. Youtube was made to be a exhibitionist website where users show and tell what they want to, as long as it’s in the confines of the website. Do we ban newspaper op-ed’s then too? How do we put a “tax” on intellectual property? (This is artistic socialism!)