Saturday, April 8, 2017

Post 5: Convergence, Ritualized Forms and Westworld

Caldwell describes convergent television as something guided by the set of practices of  "ritualized forms (pitching, writing by committee, executive revolving door)." If this is a main focus of convergent television's style, then Westworld is indeed an excellent example for the case. While the show was in creation, The program fits the form not only with the programming president of HBO switching after 33 years during the production and post-production of the show, but also follows the way a lot of convergent television is being made currently; Through "tried-and-proven modes of institutional interaction," (Caldwell 57) Westworld, originally a book by Michael Crichton and then a hit MGM movie in the 1970s, was bought from Warner Brothers (a rare studio buy) to be turned into a television show, re-written by Jonathan Nolan (you could maybe tell by all the flashback/timeline plots of the show), Lisa Joy and Halley Gross.

Westworld conforms to the second half of the effects of Jenkin's understanding of convergent television. It has down the " alarming concentration of the ownership of mainstream commercial media, with a small handful of multinational media conglomerates dominating all sectors of the entertainment industry" (Jenkins 33), but it's production cost and intellectual property control (as well as being behind a paywall/HBO) does not fit the full image of convergent television. Perhaps it is not completely as far from enabling "consumers to archive, annotate, appropriate and recirculate media content in powerful new ways" (Jenkins 33). After re-watching the first episode of Westworld in class, I realized I wanted to re-watch the whole show. But, knowing the end of the semester is drawing near, I decided against it and just went onto reddit. Reddit is where, during and after the show, all fans collected screenshots, theories and what-have-you to delve into what (the fuck) was going on in the show. In the end, a lot of the dominant theories were right, because when you put a million heads together, you're gonna figure out the plot twist that three to four writers wrote. But to see all of the forums and posts people put into understanding this show made me realize that Westworld (though not at all a low production cost show) still adheres to the first "rule" of convergent television: the audience is going to go HAM on it (and that's separate from all the think pieces, which is a whole other thing).

1 comment:

  1. So one of the interesting things about our current mediascape is that if you're binging a show like Westworld after its original airing and all the episodes are available to you, then you might actually become less likely to be a part of the "hive-mind" that you talk about at the end of your post. Part of the impetus to moving into an online fandom is the desire to dissect content when you're waiting for the next installment, right? I've been wondering what this means for fandoms around streaming shows in particular, where all the content is actually available for a given season at once. It seems then I guess you're just doing the same thing for the next season, but it does change the repetitive engagement or temporality a bit right? Anyway this is just an observation as someone that only got to Westworld once the final episode was already out.