BLOG POST(MODULE 2): Tanner Dekock, ARE YOU HYPED?!? How Broadcasters Can Control Flow in the Post-Network Era

 

Trigger Warning: Violence, Fire, and Death

“Have you seen the new Game of Thrones trailer? It was just released, and the new season looks AMAZING! I want to watch it NOW!” Have you ever watched a trailer for a television show that made you want to watch it immediately? Have you ever fallen victim to hype? Hype is the generation of interest and excitement through the use of promotion. It is also a tool at the disposal of broadcasters that be used to help the broadcaster maintain control over flow in the era of post-network television. The newest Game of Thrones trailer is a perfect example of an action-packed promotion that builds anticipation for highly followed series.

Raymond Williams describes flow as the order in which television programs, which he considers to be events, are consumed. In chapter four of Television, “Programming, Distribution, and Flow”, Williams mentions that the true program is the “sequence or set of alternative sequences of these and other similar events.” While during the network era this flow was a sequence determined by the broadcaster, In the post-network era with the advent of home recording and on-demand television, alternative sequences mentioned by Williams have become more prevalent. Amanda Lotz notes in chapter one, “Understanding Television in the Beginning of the Post-Network Era”, of her work The Television Will Be Revolutionized that “the continuous infiltration of control devices into television use has greatly disrupted the flow as […] being determined by someone other than the individual viewer”, decentralized the control of flow and giving more control of flow to the audience.

The user-governed flow of the post-network era presents a challenge to broadcasters, who wants audiences to follow their vision of flow. In order for broadcasters to persuade audiences to follow the flow that the broadcasters want, broadcasters need tools to influence audiences in the post-network era. This where hype comes in. But how does hype help broadcasters?

Most broadcasters, including HBO, have a specific goal in mind: having as many viewers watch the series live as possible, especially the series premier. In order to ensure that this happens, the broadcaster tries to generate hype for the series. Broadcasters can sustain potential viewer interest through the use of a successful multi-media marketing campaign between seasons. This includes the use of magazine articles, promotional images distributed through print and the internet, and trailers. In fact, these hype generating promotions are ultimately a part of the intended flow of the series because they guide audience members to experience the anticipation that the broadcasters want them to feel.

The newest Game of Thrones trailer is a hype volcano. Almost every scene featured in the trailer is only a few seconds long, but contains action, important characters, or prominent imagery. Because of theses qualities, each scene becomes a short, but intense tease for the viewer at the upcoming season, giving glimpse to battles and plot developments long awaited by loyal fans, and also a broad overview that showcases the series’s acclaim to newcomers of the series. Either way, the scenes in the trailer instill a sense of excitement and anticipation in the viewer, which is exactly how the broadcaster wants the viewer to feel.

The timing of the trailer is also critical. With the next season less than month away, this newest trailer leaves a sense wanting fresh in the minds of the audience members which the broadcaster hopes will tide them over until the next season starts. The timing of the trailers release in comparison to other Game of Thrones trailers is also important. With the release of the other trailers in March and May, it can be seen that the amount of promotion increases as the series premier approaches. This has the intended affect of gradually increasing hype so that the hype peaks at the series premier. The timing of trailers is an crucial part of how broadcasters maintain flow and generate hype while the series is off air.

The most important part of the trailer comes at the end: #winterishere. Discussion between audience members become the series airs is the most important part of generating hype and maintaining flow. The trailer and its corresponding hashtag have already been retweeted and shared by thousands of people on Twitter and Facebook. Fan discussion on social media increases interest exponentially. Furthermore, it is no mistake that this trailer was posted to Youtube, in addition to being aired on HBO, as it is a way of reaching a much broader, modern audience. Additionally, fan analyses and breakdowns of the trailer are being posted this moment to Youtube, Reddit threads, Tumblr posts, and countless fan discussion boards. Ironically, the viewers are doing the broadcasters work for them, by fueling the hype that the broadcasters need for their vision of the series’s flow. However, the broadcaster is not totally in control, because there is still criticism and feedback from the viewers that the broadcasters must deal with accordingly. With use of hype, the development of vision can be a collaborative effort between the audience and the broadcaster, as opposed to the audience driven flow determination so common in the post-network era.

Discussion Questions:

  1. How effective is promotional marketing in generating hype and determining the flow of a television series?
  2. How could new technologies, such as Virtual Reality and Augmented Reality affect flow of future television programs, if at all?
  3. When a series ends, does the flow of the series stop?

Your thoughts, criticisms, and comments, are much appreciated below

Relevant Readings:

  1. Raymond Williams, Television, Chapter 4, “Programming, Distribution, and Flow”
  2. Amanda Lotz, The Television Will Be Revolutionized, Chapter 1 “Understanding Television at the Beginning of the Post-Network Era”

 

BLOG POST(Module 2): AKSHAYA JEGRAJ, Altering Marketing, Programming, and Flow due to the advent of streaming subscriptions

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tCmGiiinH1M

Recently, Netflix came out with a trailer aimed at fans of two of their popular shows, Black Mirror and Orange is the New Black. This trailer combined elements of both shows, by transplanting the characters in Orange is the New Black into the universe of Black Mirror. While this marketing campaign may have been to promote one show to fans of the other due to the similarity in their themes, specifically women’s rights and LGBTQ representation, it also demonstrated the ways in which broadcasting and marketing has changed dramatically in the post-network era.

With the advent of Netflix and other streaming subscriptions, audiences have access to hundreds of different shows and movies on demand for a fixed price, leading to an increase in “cultural interlopers”. In Chapter 1 “Understanding Television at the Beginning of the Post-Network Era” of Amanda Lotz’ The Television Will Be Revolutionized, Lotz writes “subscriptions to channels might better facilitate interloping”. This allows for viewers to experience breadth instead of depth.

With the rise in these streaming subscriptions, we see the essentially the opposite of transmedia storytelling theory put forth by Henry Jenkins. Jenkins in Chapter 3 of Convergence Culture, “Searching for the Origami Unicorn” describes transmedia storytelling as “a story that unfolds across multiple media platforms, with each text making a distinctive and valuable contribution to the whole.” While trans media storytelling employs different forms of media playing to their strong suits to tell a story too large to fit in one medium, streaming subscriptions join together many different stories in a single medium that they can tangentially connect to create a universe, one that pulls together shows that they deem similar or targeting the same audience in the channel. They are creating the universe of Netflix.

Additionally, broadcasters appear to care less about the order in which content is viewed but rather that a certain group of products are viewed. This can be seen most clearly in the way Black Mirror, one of the most popular shows on Netflix, is created. Each episode, while meant to be watched in order is a self contained unit that is understandable even without watching the rest of the show.

More and more, different shows are employing this technique of having a large overplayed story that is very simple with each individual episode focusing on a single incident or event that allows a new point of entry for the audience. We can see this in shows such as Law and Order, Bones, Grey’s Anatomy, How to Get Away With Murder, and Orange is the New Black, just to name a few that are specifically on Netflix.

Producers are taking advantage of these newer technologies to create massive libraries of content in which they use commercials, and visual and auditory cues to subtly control the flow of television. In Chapter 4 of Raymond Williams Television, “Programming, Distribution, and Flow”, Williams describes “the work of programming to be the serial assembly of units,” and the flow to be “the sequences of viewing that were planned.” In the past, broadcasters had complete control over flow and the addition of commercials and other interruptions was carefully planned. Now, the user tailors his or her experience, the combination commercials that streaming services use, the visual cues that direct users to similar shows (grouping shows together or recommending similar shows), the auditory cues (using the same music or similar soundtracks for different shows) all draw the viewer into this sequence that can be loosely defined as flow. Flow has become a negotiation between the broadcasters/producers and viewers.

  1. Do you feel as if this phenomenon of producing self contained units in a larger story to be only indicative in the shows that I have mentioned or on Netflix or do you see this in other TV shows that are viewed through more traditional means?
  2. What other marketing campaigns have you seen that follow this model of merging together target audiences?
  3. Do you agree that the rise of streaming subscriptions increased the population of ‘cultural interlopers’?

Thoughts and comments welcome below!

Relevant Readings:

Amanda Lotz, The Television Will Be Revolutionized, Chapter 1 “Understanding Television at the Beginning of the Post-Network Era”

Henry Jenkins, Convergence Culture, Chapter 3 “Searching for the Origami Unicorn”

Raymond Williams, Television, Chapter 4, “Programming, Distribution, and Flow”

BLOG POST (Module 2): JACQUELINE COMITER, A Show That Romanticizes Death Achieves Water-cooler Status

Trigger warning: suicide

In Season 1, Episode 11 of Netflix’s 13 Reasons Why, Hannah’s guilt-ridden crush, Clay Jensen, finally listens to his tape, and the show perpetuates its dangerous messages that suicide is an effective revenge tactic and that a series of events—rather than mental illness—leads to suicide.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XkKAFAqZDH4

In Chapter 1, “Understanding Television at the Beginning of the Post-Network Era,” of Amanda D. Lotz’ The Television Will Be Revolutionized, Lotz writes, “Programs that achieve “water-cooler status” earn a certain degree of importance due to their ability to break through the cluttered media space, but this alone does not indicate phenomenal television.” 13 Reasons Why is, without question, a water cooler show, but it is far from phenomenal.

To be sure, 13 Reasons Why deals with what Lotz calls “a struggle percolating below the surface of mainstream discourse,” which is often how these shows attract crowds. The series, after all, recounts thirteen reasons why Hannah Baker, a fictional high school student, chooses to kill herself. Hannah leaves behind audiocassettes for the individuals who she claims are the reasons why she took her own life. The creators of 13 Reasons Why should be lauded for their attempt to examine an important topic and defy boundaries, but their execution missed the mark. It is critical that we talk about suicide, but we need to do it correctly.

My hometown is well known for its spate of teen suicides. During my senior year of high school, my campus community lost four male teenagers to suicide, one of whom was my childhood neighbor. After thinking back to the days before the epidemic, I realized that suicide used to be taboo even in my progressive, California hometown. It took a string of tragic events to transform what was hardly ever discussed into dinner party conservation. I am no stranger to suicide and the gaping hole it leaves in a community. At the same time, I am not a mental health expert; I’m just a junior in college writing a blog post for her Arts and Literature breadth requirement. I do, however, remember the toxic thoughts that consumed me in the months following my neighbor’s death. Just as Clay does in the clip above, I wondered if the deceased’s life would have turned out differently had we remained close. And while I applaud the series’ emphasis on empathy and random acts of kindness (or cruelty), its refusal to frame suicide as a consequence of poor mental health places the burden of responsibility on classmates.

In a later episode, Clay even goes on to say, “I cost a girl her life because I was afraid to love her.” I was appalled to find that the show ignored suicide’s root cause: mental illness.

The season finale also graphically depicts the act of suicide (although I find this clip the most significant, I did not find it appropriate to include it in my blog post). According to the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention, “Risk of additional suicides increases when the story explicitly describes the suicide method, uses dramatic/graphic headlines or images, and repeated/extensive coverage sensationalizes or glamorizes a death.” Harold Kolpewicz, President of the Child Mind Institute explains, “This program is coming into living rooms with attractive kids, who seem cool and with it, and are very witty, and they are giving the message of ‘once you are dead, you can get revenge on the people who were mean to you.’ ” It is not surprising that a 23-year-old man in Peru recently took his own life and left behind audio recordings, that according to the Boston Herald, are eerily reminiscent of those in 13 Reasons Why. Worst of all, the show depicts a romanticized version of suicide in which Hannah’s pain is transient and there is an aura of relaxation, as Hannah peacefully falls asleep in a warm bath. Suicide should not be glorified or fictionalized because it is neither. Those in search of phenomenal television should look elsewhere.

Discussion Questions:

Do you agree with the show’s depiction of suicide?

Should shows that have the potential to adversely influence youth be banned?

Are there lessons to be learned even when a show misses the mark?

Will a show centered on “a struggle percolating below the surface of mainstream discourse” always incite a negative response? Can you think of any examples of these sorts of water cooler shows that were well received by the majority of viewers?

Relevant Readings: Amanda D. Lotz, The Television Will Be Revolutionized: Chapter 1, “Understanding Television at the Beginning of the Post-Network Era,” USA Today, “Psychologists Warn ‘13 Reasons Why’ Could Inspire Copycat Suicides,” Boston Herald, “23-year-old Imitates ‘13 Reasons Why’ and Commits Suicide,” and http://afsp.org/wp-content/uploads/2016/01/recommendations.pdf

I welcome your thoughts, comments, and critiques below. Thanks for reading!

SAMPLE BLOG POST for 118AC: Problematic Representations of Asian Americans in Television

For this course, you will be required to post on this section blog. Julia, one of the other fabulous GSIs for this course, generated a sample blog post based on an entry from a previous student’s contribution. To get a get a good grade for your blog post, you will need to include the following elements:  summary of the show/performance, analysis, youtube links, questions, and relevant reading.

See below for a good sample post.

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In of season 7, episode 21 CW’s Supernatural the narrative introduced an Asian American character Kevin Tran (played by Osric Chau).

 

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MyeBUZyDZuE

Unfortunately, the initial introduction of this character is rife with Asian American stereotypes. Littering the walls of Kevin’s room are scholastic awards from elementary school all the way through his high school years. This promotes the “model minority” stereotype of Asian Americans who are positioned as a successful minority in order to put down other minorities such as African Americans.

Another aspect of the “model minority” stereotype is the idea that, as Ono and Pham put it, Asian Americans are “shamefully competitive, [and] desperate to get ahead” alongside a robotic character lacking emotional depth.

tumblr_inline_musmyik7ms1qgp297

Kevin’s computer screen displays this stereotype as it is full of an obsessively detailed scheduled coupled with a timer that controls Kevin’s practicing and studying down to the minute. The lack of emotional depth is portrayed when Kevin expresses a need for a perfect math score and then has no idea what to write for his personal statement

Throughout the early episodes of Kevin’s appearances on Supernatural Kevin’s identity is reduced to an external characteristic; that he’s in “Advanced Placement”. Not only does this singularly define Kevin as an overachieving student, it also indicates the perpetual foreigner stereotype in that Kevin’s English is awkward. Very few, if any, high school students reference Advanced Placement classes as “Advanced Placement”, usually shortening the term to “AP”.

Even Osric Chau admits that this initial portrayal of Kevin is “everything I’ve tried not to be… it’s everything my mom wanted me to be”.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=z93IWLK5YVA

This reduction of character is bemoaned by Ali in his article, “Portrayal of Asian Men in Cinema”, as well as the use of Asian characters as either an emasculated butt-of-the-joke or a martial arts master. Interestingly enough, Osric Chau is actually very proficient and award-winning when it comes to martial arts but Supernatural does not showcase it.

Then comes the later transformation of Kevin Tran, what Osric Chau says is “the character that best represents the [Supernatural] audience and fandom”. Osric claims that Kevin represents the fandom through Kevin’s story: getting thrown into a high-paced, adrenaline-pumping series of events but sticking it out to be better in the end.

Kevin, after surviving multiple attacks and kidnappings, transforms on the show into a gun-toting, magic-using, demon punching man with a hair cut. The stereotypical aspects of Kevin’s character were thrown away, but was his cultural identity also thrown out?

Discussion Questions:

What are ways to positively portray Asian Americans onscreen without reinforcing the model minority stereotype?

How important is the rate of progress? Is there an “enough for now”?

How harmful is “ethnic/yellow yellowface”?

Are comedic roles (such as those played by Ken Jeong) more harm than good?

Relevant Readings: Ono and Pham, “Threatening Model Minorities” and Ali, “Portrayal of Asian Men in Cinema”

Reply below if you have questions about format/ wordpress/ or the blog assignment.

Welcome to Juan Manuel’s section!

“Ambiente Familiar” Mitrovica Danza Contemporánea (Mexico City) Dirección: Andrea Chirinos Intérpretes: Lilian Coffen, Luis Díaz, Nadia Lartige, Lilian Muller, Andrea Chirinos

Scholars, hi!

Welcome to the space of the nobodies and the forgotten! I’m Juan Manuel. I will be your GSI for summer 2017. As of three weeks ago, I am a fourth-year Ph.D. candidate in performance studies. My work examines choreography and contemporary dance across the United States-Mexico borders.  My current research project gives specific attention to Mexican contemporary choreographers working in cities such as Mexico City, Los Angeles, and San Francisco. I just started my field work this year; that is, I am out and about conducting interviews with choreographers, watching performances, listening to debates about performance theory and aesthetics in Mexico City, and watching a lot of dance films/shows in dark spaces with strangers that I will never know. My future project will examine the role of the dance quebradita in non-traditional, migrant receiving cities such as New Orleans, Salt Lake City, and Omaha. Qubradita was a dance genre popular among working-class migrants in the United States and the rural populations in Mexico.

Nadie-Juan-Sebastian-Mesa-Medellin_LNCIMA20160909_0069_1
Promotional image for the Colombian film for Los Nadie (2016).

For this blog, I am choosing the theme “the nobodies.” I decided to take inspiration from the 2016 film Los Nadie (The Nobodies). The film follows a group of punk youth in the barrios of Medellín, Colombia. They use juggling, friendship, and punk music as a way of life. This story charts my personal interest into the spaces and forms of belonging where the nobodies and the forgotten hang out. I grew up undocumented in Utah. As a working-class Mexican existing outside of the legal bounds of political citizenship and at times below the poverty line, my sense of belonging  was informed by being considered the worst threat to the imaginary of “America.” I consumed television, performances, and music that gave me a sense of belonging to the nobodies and anybody’s: the working-class labor force in and outside of Mexico. I watched telenovelas ( Marimar), listened to Mexican rock/punk (Rebel’dand Mexican banda (El Mexicano), and cried repeatedly while watching films such as Los Olvidados (The Young and the Damned) (1950), West Side Story (1961), and Macario (1960).

Pina Pellicer in a still image from the film Macario (1960).
Pina Pellicer in a still image from the Mexican film Macario (1960).
Anybody's wants to be part of the Jets. West Side Story (1961)
Anybody’s wants to be part of the Jets. West Side Story (1961)
A still image from the performance Amarillo (2009), produced by the Mexico City-based company Linea de Sombra.
A still image from the performance Amarillo (2009), produced by the Mexico City-based company Linea de Sombra. The story follows the many nobodies that try to enter the United States from Mexico.

When I am not watching a performance or writing about a choreographer, I spend my time on Netflix watching the London-based show Chewing Gum. The show is written by and stars Michaela Coel, who plays Tracey, a working-class girl who lives in a municipal housing project. I look forward to working with you as we examine television, social media, and performance. We will work together through this labyrinth of nobodies, anybody’s, and the forgotten to understand how power works through the intersections of gender, race, sexuality, faith, and class.

Promotional image for the series Chewing Gum
Promotional image for the series Chewing Gum

 

Requiem for a Meme