Monday, April 24, 2017

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.

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