Sunday, April 9, 2017

Convergence Culture in Homeland

The most recent season of homeland explores a number of issues related to the media and in doing so, ultimately delves into Jenkins' notion of convergence culture, particularly as it relates to notions of national security, government utilization of the media, and political expression of fringe/ minority groups through online networks and other non-broadcast/network forms.

The season begins with someone who will become a central character, Sekou Bah, filming his online web series about where terrorist attacks have occurred in the NYC. His character utilizes online networks to provide a critique of the American government that lies outside of the framework of the mainstream media in that he champions some of these terrorist activities. Ultimately Sekou is arrested on partially falsified charges deemed "enough cause" to suspect him of planning terrorist action. Jenkins writes that the streams of argument regarding media tend to be that "Some fear media is out of control, others that it is too controlled" (34). Sekous storyline illustrates precisely this tension in that the government's perspective is that media is out of control and allowing him to champion something like terrorism on US soil, yet their subsequent arrest and monitoring of his media presence similarly outlines the somewhat excessive control of media.

Sekou's character exemplifies the individual making an attempt at agency through the use of various media formats and communities. Furthermore, Jenkins continues writing, "Imagine a world where there are two kinds of media power: one comes through concentration, where any message gains authority simply by being broadcast on network television; the other comes through collective intelligence where a message gains visibility only if it is deemed relevant to a loose network of diverse publics" (Jenkins 35). Sekou's situation falls into this notion of visibility because his perspective is relevant to diverse publics who are either concerned by terrorism of fall in line with his anti-US govt. thinking.

Additionally, the show moves on to discuss the creation of a large scale media conglomerate whose entire job is to create fake users and control political sentiment expressed in online forums targeting the president. This seems to speak the the aforementioned notion of 'excessive control' in media, even within grassroots forums. Jenkins writes "Grassroots media will reframe those issues [on the national agenda] for different publics and ensure that everyone has a chance to be heard" (35). Interestingly, in the Homeland example, we see these grassroots forms being controlled by a larger power, not unlike the control systems behind the dissemination of broadcast culture. This leads to the question of whether these two separate worlds of collective intelligence and commercial media will remain as separate as Jenkins initially describes them. If the voices being "heard" in grassroots forums are artificial and show a dominant perspective, in many ways they become an even more divisive version of Broadcast commercial culture.

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