Sunday, May 7, 2017

"Quality TV" and the body

Oh! Speaking of WestWorld!

Here's the thesis of my TV professor back in South Africa. I spoke about it a little bit in class. It links back to all the discussions that we've had about how an HBO show needs to have violence, rape and boobs. So. Enjoy.

She has other great papers, but I for the life of me can't figure out how USC libraries works... so.

Dr. Alexia Smit (UCT

Movie Finales?

So I watched the final episode of WestWorld last night... I know, I'm super lame.

Although it was all very interesting, I couldn't help but consider that the episode was a full HOUR AN A HALF! A full-length movie.

This made me consider the possibility of some kind of blend between television and film in which television would serve to set up films. If that makes sense?

I know there is some semblance of that with television shows going on to be adapted for the big screen, but those narratives are often unlinked and non-canonical. What if all the TV we watched was homework in preparation for the next big blockbuster (the finale of the series)? Studios would theoretically be happy because it fulfills their long coveted IP conditions. Plus, the increased budget and communal experience (of going to the movies) could bump up the experience a little bit... Not to mention us TV writers could get some of that film money.

I dunno. Maybe I'm crazy

Saturday, May 6, 2017

I don't see race

I really enjoyed this, particularly regarding our discussions about the "post-racial, colorblind utopia" in which we are all so lucky to exist.

Tuesday, May 2, 2017

Rose Gold: The Colour Palette of Milenial Materialism

This may be tangential, but I found this article on Sarah Cwyer's new exhibition really fascinating in relation to what we have been discussing particularly re. materialism/ commercialism + post-feminism;

“What is the right way to talk about something? Do people understand more if you communicate with things bought and sold?”

“Several male artists I know have told me I am having a moment,” the female voice says in the film, “as if the moment will pass soon. Rose Gold is having a moment too.” Commercial trends extend to artists and artworks, to social movements and political causes. But where does the wildfire of a trend stop, and what’s left after it burns out? Is there any lasting power? The final line of the film lets this question hang: “Is the Rose Gold iPhone a totem?” the male voice muses. “Maybe you won’t even remember it at all.”

Saturday, April 29, 2017

Core Post - TV, Ethnicity + Race

One question has been brought up after reading articles about TV, Ethnicity and Race is is the complexity of Asian American portrayal in television programming postracial? The complexity of Asian American portrayals in television programming therefore certainly appears to reflect a continuum of stereotypes and representations that ranges from negative stereotypes to positive representations of Asian Americans as heroic characters. This definitely reflects a postracial construct of the Asian American as presented by Turner and Nilsen, though Esposito would object that any instance of negative Asian American portrayal represents the continuation of white supremacist ideology in television programming. The scholarship on Asian American representations certainly seems to consist almost entirely of negative portrayals while completely neglecting positive portrayals that can be easily discerned by viewing prime-time television on cable or broadcast, where Asian Americans are portrayed positively as heroes even if they are rarely the primary focus of the narrative. For example, In “Matchmakers and Cultural Compatibility: Arranged Marriage, South Asians, and Racial Narratives on American Television,” Shilpa Dave exclusively focuses on those representations of traditional Indian cultural practices to arrive at a conclusion that American television 13 programming constructs an Other of Indians as different from Euro-Americans (Dave). 

However, this analysis fails to identify the numerous physicians, engineers, computer scientists, and other positive portrayals of Indians that are easily observed through a causal purview of American television on prime-time and streaming content. One of the interesting themes that emerges in the literature on Asian American representations in television is that even positive portrayals are demeaned by theorists as model minority or depictions of the Other. Dave conducts this type of approach as she claims that depictions of South Indians as physicians confirms a stereotype of South Indians as affluent and therefore objects of resentment by white middle- and working-class Americans (Dave). This criticism means that only a narrow representation of Asian Americans could satisfy theorists such as Acham, Dave, Esposito, and others. This representation would depict an Asian American of working-class or immigrant status who faces racial oppression from whites. 

Depictions that present working-class or immigrant Asians as overcoming the odds to achieve success would be criticized as the model minority stereotype or favoring the end of affirmative action policies. Depictions of Asian Americans of higher socioeconomic status would face criticism for also promoting the model minority stereotype or presenting them as the Other, objects of resentment by lower class whites. Indeed, the literature shows different conceptualizations of the model minority stereotype. The most common usage of the term conveys the stereotype as negative for one or more reasons. For some scholars, the model minority stereotype is negative because it overlooks problems of Asian Americans related to injustice and inequality as a result of white dominance. For other scholars, the model minority stereotype is negative because it presents Asian 14 Americans as the Other, different from whites even though this difference relates to positive attributes. Lastly, some scholars, such as Megan Reynolds (see discussion below), refer to positive stereotypes that can be defined as the model minority stereotype. There appears to be a lack of clarity in the scholarship about what, exactly, the model minority stereotype is in terms of moral connotations.

Thursday, April 27, 2017

The "Anti-Pepsi Ad"...?

Tuesday, April 25, 2017

Trump boasts of highest TV ratings since ‘the World Trade Center came down’

Speak No Evil: Mass Media Control in Contemporary China



I wanted to share Neta Alexander's fantastic article on buffering (linked below). I think it's very relevant to our discussion of televisual Web platforms because, as she notes, buffering is a ubiquitous experience that doesn't get much attention. While it is often imagined to be an anomalous glitch, Alexander draws out attention to how the dread of seeing that spinning circle, and our obsessive refreshing of a page, produces a temporal disjunction that is actually fundamental to the phenomenology of web viewing and contradicts the techno-utopian promise that "waiting is over."

BRUJOS Artist Statement

This is from the BRUJOS Artist Statement (posted online):

BRUJOS addresses the current the landscape of television: Gay men and people of color are more apparent than ever in mainstream television. Sitcoms like “Blackish” and “Fresh Off The Boat” depict families of color attaining the American dream. Programs such as “Looking” and “Modern Family” feature middle and upper class white gay men searching for love or functioning as an all-American family. While these shows are representational achievements, they are not revolutionary ones.

In these cases, ethnic, racial and sexual minorities are portrayed in ways that support dominant culture, narratives, values and relationality. Commercial television studios and networks preoccupied with “scale” and “big data” seldom produce aesthetically or politically challenging work to secure mass viewership. This only further marginalizes non-normative people who’s lives, realities, and stories do not fit within their depictions and who devise new ways of being under the pressures of inequality that are never affirmed.

For the creators of Brujos, there is not much to be gained by larger strives in mainstream representation (I personally would not wholesale dismiss such endeavors for mainstream representation). They articulate a strong link between neoliberal incorporation of “diversity” for profit and the solidification of the same norms—just dressing up dominant culture in new clothes. Do we think that commercial television will always "seldom product aesthetically or politically challenging work?" Will this type of cultural work mostly be found in peripheral formats (increasingly more common in the post-TV world).

Side note: as a PhD student interested in cultural/queer/performance studies, I will now be binging this show through finals!

Core Post 5 - The Handmaid's Tale Marketing

It was very interesting reading the texts during the weekend of the LA Times Book Fair at USC, where Hulu’s new show The Handmaid’s Tale was being marketed, due to Margaret Atwood’s panel.

In order to maximise the digital show’s physical presence on campus, Hulu hired around thirty actresses to dress up in costume, and walk silently in-sync with one another amongst the book fair. Those brave enough to approach these silent women were handed stick on tattoos which stated “Don’t Let the Bastards Grind You Down” - in Latin, no less ( "nolite te bastardes carborundorum”).

In her essay “Television Outside the Box”, Lotz writes about a “sort of quintessential marketing phenomenon” which “begs the question of whether film studies can continue to talk productively about texts, aesthetics, ideology, and identity in new media… without also talking about the industrial landscape and marketing practices that animate and fuel new media development on a wide scale”. This immersive marketing for The Handmaid’s Tale at the Los Angeles book fair illustrated a venture into this wider media interactive landscape -- these Latin clues act like a secret code, but it excites fans and non-fans alike, who can share photos or Tweet about what the see, as both the confusion and excitement for the series builds.

Similarly, for those baffled by the presence of these women, all they had to do was look up the hashtag quote on the cards they gave out. A simple commanding symbol which indicates where one may find the answers, again making this marketing more immersive, than didactic. This points towards another of Lotz’ statements, that “technologies involved in the digital transition enabled profound adjustments in how viewers used television and necessitated modifications in many other production processes” (49).

 And it is not alone in its unique "beyond television" marketing -- as noted by an article by Gizmodo; "South by Southwest, the Austin-based tech and entertainment expo, is known for hosting some experimental TV promos. This year, American Gods has a giant buffalo, The Man in the High Castle is opening a Resistance Radio station, Better Call Saul and Twin Peaks opened restaurants for Los Pollos Hermanos and Double R Diner. But none of those compare to the uncanny valley insanity that is whatever’s going on for The Handmaid’s Tale." (

 The Handmaid’s Tale’s marketing is under scrutiny for Elizabeth Moss’s inflammatory comments declaring it “not a feminist” tale. Clearly this is a) untrue, and b) a line she must quip according to higher powers, in order to make the show more appealing to a wider audience. Which takes us back to conversations around “feminism” being a dirty word -- which Atwood herself managed to tactfully navigate without treading on the marketing hopes of the producers, by saying: "I always want to know what people mean by that word. Some people mean it quite negatively, other people mean it very positively, some people mean it in a broad sense, other people mean it in a more specific sense. Therefore, in order to answer the question, you have to ask the person what they mean."

Monday, April 24, 2017

VCR and Post-TV (Core-Post 5)

In Lotz's paper "Television Outside the Box," the VCR was cited as one of the "first technologies to trouble understandings of television" by being a transitionary development between traditional forms of tv, which dictated when you watched a type of content, to what we describe today as Post-TV digital media (52). Not only did VCR's allow people to view film, which at the time was considered more artistically credible, but gave viewers freedom from the bombardment of commercials that traditionally interrupted a story's flow. Reading this paper gave me a sense of nostalgia towards my old VHS tapes but also led me to think about how corporations have evolved advertisements to make them more watchable and how they’ve worked around viewers’ to watch commercial-free content.

Like in early television shows like The Goldbergs, corporations seemed to find ways to embed their advertisements into tv/film-like content, some specifically disguising commercials into VHS-ready plot/character-focused story-telling. With this in mind, McDonald’s straight-to-video series The Wacky Adventures of Ronald McDonald is a perfect example. From 1998-2003, McDonald’s sold VHS tapes in stores and used popular Nickelodeon-esque animation and humor to create brand loyalty in children (in fact they were created by the same creators/musicians from popular Nickelodeon shows). These videos put McDonald’s trademark characters into a world and situations that children could respond to, keeping their interest for longer than a one or two minute commercial. What seems smart about this strategy is that it used a tangible object (a vhs tape) to create the idea that what is essentially an extended commercial can actually be seen as a gift or reward from parent to child. The convergence was from store to TV, creating a new means of increasing revenue in addition to brand awareness. Moving forward to today, these VHS tapes might be obsolete but McDonalds has found new ways to appeal to children in contemporary forms. is an interactive site where children can play games, watch videos, and check out the new toys offered in happy meals. They can do it with more mobility than a VHS tape, which has to go directly into a television, which allows them to interact with McDonalds at anytime they want. The site is essentially an extensive advertisement whose sales-based agenda is more entertaining and less skippable than a commercial.

Core Post 5 - Post-TV

As television shows fight to stay relevant in an increasingly crowded market, the guarantee of audience becomes much less definite. In order to distinguish themselves, shows often resort to the post-TV techniques laid out in Tara McPherson’s article, “Reload: Liveness, Mobility, and the Web,” to varying degrees of success/mockery. For instance, to release the date for the upcoming Game of Thrones season premiere, HBO used a Facebook Live feed that would allow viewers to actively participate in the announcement. However, the somewhat perplexingly bizarre format they chose to deliver this information was, in fact, a melting block of ice, with the date hidden within.

The choice to present the premiere date via ice perhaps best evidences McPherson’s assertion about the web surfer’s desire for transformation, as in an “activation of our desire for what’s next” (204). Since the premiere date would remain unknown until the ice literally transformed into a melted state, viewers were encouraged to watch the largely static shot carefully, noting any changes that might provide hints. Similarly, the (illusion of) liveness—as foregrounded by the use of Facebook Live broadcasting—allowed viewers to await this transformation en masse.

Viewers watching the livestream were encouraged to comment on the feed with the words “FIRE” or “DRACARYS” in order to melt the ice block more quickly. These comments were ostensibly tracked with a “fire meter” in the corner of the screen, which showed how close they were to releasing the next burst of flame. The use of the fire meter also seems to clearly indicate an appeal to the web’s desire for volitional mobility by “structuring a mobilized liveness which we come to feel we invoke and impact” (202). Due to the large number of people watching the feed, however, it would have been virtually impossible to correlate one’s own commenting efforts on an actual scale, as the fire meter seemed to refill regardless of individual efforts. Thus the intention to provide volitional mobility was in place, but the actual sense of true volition was not readily apparent.

Finally, the melting ice display also seemed to be designed to appeal to the scan and search practice, which McPherson terms as “a fear of missing the next experience or the next piece of data” (204). Surely, the majority of viewers watching the ice melt were not riveted by the display itself, but simply didn’t want to miss the information and have to rely on secondary sources. However, even with the interactive component, the video stream of melting ice more closely aligned the viewing with the typical TV scan-and-search experience—i.e. not wanting to change the channel—than the typical web experience. In an environment where people are used to being able to click away and search for their own information, a 40-minute, nearly silent livestream contrasted with that ingrained experience, and thus made the announcement hugely vulnerable to criticism and memes.

Game of Thrones season seven premieres July 16.

Core Post 5 - OpenTV

OpenTV is a welcome attempt at disrupting hegemonic media practices by offering a platform for marginalized artists to represent their experiences and communities through artistic endeavors. The common theme running through this week’s articles is that the mentality assumed by the major media conglomerates is that the Internet is a fundamentally commercial medium, so seeing this kind of initiative (undertaken by a younger member of the academy, no less) provides some hope for the Internet’s democratic potential.

With OpenTV taking the initiative to create space for underrepresented identities, it is also interesting to recognize similar attempts by more mainstream media entities – notably Amazon Prime, with Transparent, and Netflix, with Orange is the New Black. What we see here are two very different approaches to representation: one DIY, one professional; one open to numerous artistic modes, one beholden to traditional narrative structures (even as they are modified and disrupted by the streaming model). Ultimately, whatever gains in representation are made by the streaming services are somewhat undercut by the fact that their programming strategies are not fundamentally committed to political acts of representation. As we rightly celebrate the emergence of non-hegemonic narratives in mainstream media and celebrate their industry awards, which in turn allow for greater exposure of these sorely-needed narratives, we should also continually recognize the work that remains to be done, both within these texts and in texts that are not produced. In the final analysis, profit remains the primary motivation here. On the other hand, OpenTV presents its mission openly, even supplying a manifesto:


A beta platform for original series about independent arts and artists

Open to artists who identify as queer, trans, and cis-women and persons of color

Open to diverse communities left out of mainstream film and television production

Open to diverse forms of art, from dance and poetry to stand-up and drag

Open to diverse forms of storytelling from comedy to music video, drama to reality television

Open to diverse strategies for showcasing art and television

Open to promoting work already released online or offline”

And yet, OpenTV does have nearly the reach enjoyed by Netflix and Amazon Prime. As we ruminate on these tensions between corporate TV online and democratic online media, the question of scope and reach seems significant.

It's the Future...

Seeing how many of us LOVE Rick and Morty, apparently a VR game is coming out soon!
Though video games based on TV shows have existed literally since forever, the fact that you can interact with the show's storyline via VR is really really creepy.

It's the future.

Core Post 5: Post-TV and the "User"

This week’s readings explore the entanglement between the televisual and the digital web. The authors note many different attributes intensified or rendered irrelevant during this ongoing moment of technological transformation. In different ways, they all take up Lisa Park’s call that these moments of “chaotic indeterminacy of new technologies” are rich moments for social and cultural analysis precisely because they can reflect existing social and economic structures (134). In this response, I want to focus on the production of the “individual” as it emerges from and is subjected to larger promises of technological freedom and control. It seems that in these moments of “chaotic indeterminacy,” there often is a “lure” toward an optimistic reading of new technology. Lisa Parks and Tara McPherson both caution us against any liberatory reading of what seems to be an increased amount of agency granted during the Post-TV era. Parks reminds us that flexible microcasting—or personalized TV—aligns with the desire to “program” the self, a desire at the heart of US neoliberal logics (Parks 134). Similarly for the WWW, McPherson traces how the “Web constitutes itself in the unfolding of experience” through what she describes as volitional mobility, scan-and-search, and transformation (McPherson 200).

Tara’s phenomenology of the Web was a great method for explicating the dynamic ontology of the Web by beginning on the level of the experiential. As a method, phenomenology interrogates the question of “liveness” by distinguishing between perceived “liveness” (through the screen image) and experienced “liveness.” While reading Tara’s phenomenology of the Web, I was reminded of my previous employment (prior to my PhD program) as a Product Marketer for an online web company. My job as a Product Marketer was to manage a cross-functional team of web designers and developers to optimize the website (which functioned as the outward-facing “packaging” of our subscription software product). We utilized a wide array of software to best understand “user behavior” in order to be more effective product marketers. A simple version of our team’s goal was to help and persuade a new user to navigate from a landing page to ultimately subscribe to our product. In our arsenal were programs such as Optimizely A/B testing software, a program that allow us to segment the site visitors and show them different versions of the same site flow—perhaps with a different leading image, or different call-to-action buttons (Interestingly, part of Optimizely’s success as a testing platform was that the founder developed the technology to help run Obama’s web campaign for the Presidency. A condensed version of Optimizely’s marketing promise was that it could transform user behavior data into real political change in the real world). Another program we would use was CrazyEgg, a “heat-mapping software” that tracked cursor/click/scroll activity on web pages. As Tara describes the movement of the cursor, I was thinking of how the illusion of interactivity promised by the web is also the same vehicle by which new surveillance and behavior software masks itself. In a simplified way, Tara’s phenomenology of the web could also be read as an ideal “user test.” But, perhaps like the Obama campaign example, such data-fication of the individual user can potentially be used for positive political change.

Example of "heat-mapping"

An additional thought to conclude: I’ve been thinking about how this notion of “flow” must be conceptualized differently in the post-TV/digital era. As McPherson notes, debates about “flow” (and segmentation) have been at the core of televisual studies. But when we think of digital platforms, online television is not simply a uni-directional broadcast of content but is also susceptible to the instability of the web in general. Users flow onto sites through traffic channels and can cause a website to “crash” (I think this happened when was overloaded during the Season 5 (?) premiere of Game of Thrones). This is an incomplete thought, but I am interested in how to conceive of “flow” on the Web, when the ontology of the Web is comprised of a dynamic confluence of traffic, flows, and segmentation.

Core Post 4 - Television Outside the Box

Much has been written recently on the collapsing ontologies of television – a topic well covered by Amanda Lotz’s article. And yet, within this increasingly nebulous landscape, there still remain clear markers of division between what we might call “television” and what we might call “cinema.” Following Lotz’s anecdote about how “‘watching television’ became acceptable to those who previously denigrated the device once it could be used to screen the works of master filmmakers” (52), I wish to briefly examine the introduction of the streaming service FilmStruck to elucidate the still tangible distinction between the two forms in the streaming age.

Launched late last year, the streaming service FilmStruck, as a joint venture between Turner Classic Movies and the Criterion Collection, establishes itself as a streaming service “for film lovers, by film lovers.” In the crowded landscape of streaming services dominated by Netflix, Hulu, and Amazon Prime, FilmStruck is attempting to draw itself along lines of aesthetic and ontological distinction. While certainly not the first cinematically-minded streaming service (MUBI and Fandor were first), FilmStruck’s brand-name recognition between both TCM and Criterion works to establish itself as a major player in the already crowded streaming landscape. The difference being, of course, that FilmStruck is a service for Films (capital F), and not the continually redefined video content of a Netflix Original.

Clearly, our contemporary media landscape is not quite ready to shed the previous ontological divisions of media forms, even as we edge closer to a type of convergence. The question for me is, does the existence of FilmStruck suggest the continuation of formal division, or is it simply an attempt to stave off the inevitable singularity?

Core Post 3 - Flexible Microcasting

Lisa Parks’ article on gendered and generational audiences has me thinking about BuzzFeed original videos. Her article was written at the historical moment when traditional media conglomerates were enacting their first forays into the new medium while new media conglomerates, like BuzzFeed, had not yet cemented their status as major providers of content.

Today, BuzzFeed provides enormous amounts of digital video content published under the auspices of several different channels: BuzzFeedVideo, BuzzFeedBlue, BuzzFeedViolet, BuzzFeedYellow, etc. Each channel has its own target audience and genre-focus, microbranding itself under the parent brand of BuzzFeed. BuzzFeedYellow, which has recently been rebranded as Boldly, represents an extension of Parks’ consideration of how a gendered and generational audience focus is enacted in a digital space. The Oxygen network’s “insistence on the possibility of intergenerational practice” (147), which Parks describes as a strategy of corporate feminism underlying the project, as well as The Den’s exemplification of “the notion that television culture is ultimately incompatible with cyberculture” (151), have evolved side-by-side in the years since Parks article into a hybrid form, advancing both Oxygen and the Den’s focus on particular audiences, while navigating the slippery format of TV-on-the-Internet or the Internet-on-TV.

Boldly most clearly represents this evolution, while also demonstrating the simultaneous limits of corporate feminism that underwrite the initiative. With programs like Women Try, Cheap Vs. Expensive, and Beauty & Cosmetics, Boldly engenders a programming strategy that engages in notions of traditional femininity and a rhetoric of capitalist consumption. In fact, BuzzFeed’s programing strategies across their multiple channels seem to collapse the capitalist imperative of television with its narrative strategies. Rather than interrupt the flow of narrative information with commercial breaks, BuzzFeed, with their product review videos, turns commercials into the text itself.

Still, I wonder if Parks would find notes of positivity in this BuzzFeed project, despite whatever limitations I have partially gestured toward.

Core Post 5: Post-TV.. and the emergence of VR/AR

Facebook has presented their version of Virtual Reality, Facebook Spaces . A far cry from anything other platforms are doing with this medium, Facebook Spaces allows users to choose cartoon versions of themselves to virtually hang out with other cartoon versions in a 360- real environment. I begin with this introduction to further analyze and ponder the intersection between virtual reality and/or augmented reality with the media of Television. What role will viewers and content creators play when creating a media immersive world?
Amanda Lotz explains in “Television Outside the Box: The Technological Revolution of Television”, how through the emergence of technology and the digital transition “viewers used television and necessitated modifications in many other production processes” (49). With the advent of smartphones, television removed itself from the constrained space of the living room, its spatial beginnings, and through this freedom allowed itself to be digested in other spaces. Taking this further, given the freedom of spaces and emerging technology of Virtual Reality and/or Augmented Reality, where and what will the intersection lie between the televisual world and the real? What are the implications? What can be afforded? What is lost?
Black/Mirror, episode: Fifteen Million Merits

The current Post-TV landscape includes Youtube, a self-uploading, relatively unbiased space for all voices to be broadcast. A red-flag that Virtual Reality and/or Augmented Reality (VR/AR) cultivates is the ‘who’ of the creation? Who is creating these virtual spaces? Currently, a white-male dominated industry, the complication for another medium to be run by white-males is regressive. Any affordance that virtual reality and/or augmented reality will generate will undoubtedly benefit its primary creators, white-males. 
Which brings me back full circle to the first reading of the course, Raymond Williams’ Television: Technology and Cultural Form. According to him, television even with its technological advances, is seen as inferior to cinema (22). But, what Raymond Williams’ couldn’t have foreseen is the emergence of mainstream devices such as the Google Cardboard. Television will have the outlet to become intensely immersive into our real world, in so much, that it will be a part of the landscape. However, I do believe Williams’ take on flow can be applied to the VR/AR. The flow that Williams describes will be so interconnected with our daily life, we won’t be able to distinguish between the real and the digital.

Check out the video below to visualize what a world with AR could look like. 

Core Post 5: Post Television

It’s interesting to read the McPherson article in the context of 2017. The article has a precognitive quality to it regarding the melding of television and the internet (Netflix and Hulu), especially when considering the concepts of the “scan-and-search” phenomenon.

McPherson suggests that the “scan-and-search” phenomenon is essentially the result of FOMO, more specifically the fear out on “the next experience or the next piece of data”. The result of this fear propels us across the internet on an endless clicking rampage. What’s so interest about this is that McPherson suggests that this is the same phenomenon that keeps viewers glued to specific television channels out of fear that they will miss out of hidden treasures exclusive the specific channel on the specific evening. The reason why this is particularly interesting is because we can see how television and the internet have hybridized to solve these fears/anxieties through steaming services such as Netflix, Hulu etc. Television has evolved to stay relevant in the internet age while still propagating the anxieties that keep it relevant. I think that the anxiety has evolved some. It’s not so much the fear of missing out of the episode, but rather the fear of spoilers which has become so prevalent in the internet landscape. Every minute that you don’t catch up on your favorite show, you risk robbing yourself of the surprise, enjoyment and suspense that is in store for you.

Sunday, April 23, 2017

As we move into our post-TV week...

...I thought it would be useful to revisit this (now almost decade-old!) video. This was published at the advent of the original iPhone, which popularized the concept of watching a movie on an infinitely-utilitarian 3.5 inch screen.

Clearly Lynch was having none of it. But it has me thinking, now that we're nearly ten years into the smartphone revolution (iPhone launch: June 29, 2007!), how might we accurately conceptualize the ability to watch video content on our phones? Along what demographic lines might we chart mobile viewing patterns? I almost never watch Netflix on my phone, but I have no problem with watching YouTube clips on it. For me, it's a matter of aesthetics more than anything -- I do not want to be "cheated." But how might these assumptions be questioned or disrupted?

Core Post 4: Week 13: TV + The Globe

I am really inspired by Michael Curtain's article Thinking Globally - From Media Imperialism to Media Capital. In this article, he lists the obstacle and problems that have been caused by media imperialism and domination, which are when theoretically the local media is dominant, it becomes difficult to think globally about media industries of what we know is derived from American contents, and also is difficult to think globally because research keeps circling back to national policy and aesthetics. In this concept and phenomenon, it reminds me the problems of media domination of China, compare to capitalism, Chinese media is sometimes controlled by the government, which means people usually get the news which is filtered. In order for the government to balance the right and wrong for the beneficial reason, people get the news that is beneficial to the government.

Thinking globally does not only apply to news, but also should be applied to culture and historical elements. Therefore, Michael Curtain clearly states in his article that people should extend our perspective beyond Anglo-American media and encourage us to consider the world as a whole. And also shift the perspective and take into account both the general and the particular, both the forest and the trees. To think more broadly instead of just considering local and particular stuff. We should see global media as the sum of their parts, as simply a collection of discreet units. On the other hand, from media imperialism to media capital, we will encounter some challenge which will prevent us from taking action. Because media imperialism emphasizes the self-conscious extension of centralized power, diminishes indigenous production capacity and undermines the expressive potential of national cultures, imposing foreign values of contributing to cultural homogenization worldwide. Furthermore, media imperialism has become the world’s most powerful media corporations were having difficult time imposing their agendas in many parts of the world. On the other hand, globalization of media should be understood as it is part of a larger set of processes that operate translocally, interactively, and dynamically at a variety of levels: economic, institutional, technological, and ideological, it also suggests that the world’s increasingly interconnected media environment is the outcome of messy and complicated interactions across space. We need to think about capitalism as a social process that shapes the spatial contours of media, bearing only contingent or “not necessary” relation to the nation-state.

Core Post 5: Interactivity, boundaries, and education_ India Wilson

Professor McPherson's piece, Reload, caused me to do a fair amount of reflection on my own experiences with 'interactive websites and companies. In particular, I found myself focusing on notions of boundary within these forums and the ways in which commerce has dictated the (in many cases failed) interactive enterprises and better ways they may've been utilized. 

At one point in the article, Mcpherson writes, "The interfaces deployed by MSNBC (and most other commercial Web sites) suggests a sense of liveness and movement even while the very programming which underwrites them works to guide and impede the user’s trajectory. (206). Here McPherson addresses the boundaries built into interactive forums. Sometimes the illusion of control in a situation like the JFK simulation can be even more frustrating than simply watching a guided narrative. I think that may be one of the problems that the interactive world has seen. I often find myself starting to navigate through something, but not being able to open a certain door or look closer at some painting on the wall of the imagined space. How frustrating! Ultimately, as a form of entertainment interactive, as it stands presently fails to follow through on what it promises: control over your viewing experience and virtual world. That said, the same problem often exists within video games, but proves less frustrating because the boundaries and working one's way around them becomes a part of the excitement of the game, particularly if you are working to achieve a goal within a limited amount of time or, for instance, little virtual characters are shooting at you. 

Furthermore, I currently work at the appropriately named DEN institute in the engineering school where I am a camera operator for the lectures that they live stream. Most of my job centers on creating a 'seamless' education experience for distance students who watch the live lectures. My experience there leads me to believe that The type of convergence that Neuman describes could be incredibly valuable in a more widespread educational format, yet that has limited commercial capacity so I doubt that anything similar will emerge at any point soon. Channels like Discovery and National Geographic are currently making great strides in terms of their content, but in many ways moving toward a higher budget cinematic model. I think we would likely be seeing a movement toward interactive if it were seen to be as commercially viable as being able to "click and buy Jennifer Aniston's sweater." I hope one day, someone will find a way to make click and learn a more exciting and accessible form of interactive media... but alas...

Core Post 4: Lotz and Streaming _ India Wilson

Lotz's piece, Television Outside the Box ends with the statement, “We must now think about television as a highly diversified medium; even as “watching television” has continued to signify a set of widely recognizable behaviors, the singularity and coherence of this experience has come to be fleeting” (80). Lotz focuses primarily on technological developments leading up to the DVR and portability on mobile devices. I wonder how Lotz would view recent developments in streaming. At one point he describes the older “holy grail” of television as a sort of movement toward the quality of theatrical viewing. Today with larger budgets, content, named stars, and the ability to even watch television in a theatrical style (i.e. the way we do in class during our screenings), one might posit that television has achieved and, in its portability and the ability to ‘binge watch,’ potentially even surpassed theatrical viewing in many ways.

With streaming, we see a similar increase in the control that Lotz describes, but streaming surpasses the hard-tech innovation of the DVR, in that, streaming services provide mobility and control (in the different devices on which you can view your television and the time that you choose to view), but simultaneously create their own content, often geared toward the ’streaming experience.’ As streaming services like Netflix and Hulu continue to expand their range of viewing opportunities, to include limited series and variations on serialized content, I think the definition of “television” as a highly diversified medium will become even more blurred. With stars like Brad Pitt making feature deals on streaming services, Television comes to now represent a number of things not previously considered under it’s umbrella. One could even potentially see the creation of multiple hour content that the viewer can choose to start and stop at any point or watch continuously: the ultimate binge viewing. Only time will tell.