Archive | April 2013

From King Arthur to Avengers

The once simplistic experience of sitting down, watching a film, and leaving the cinema with a solid grasp on the particular plot is now becoming a thing of the past. The expectations of the average consumer have been heightened, and audience members crave a definite sense of engagement, executed through the concept of Transmedia.

Transmedia is the process whereby ‘integral elements of a fiction get dispersed systematically across multiple delivery channels’ (Jenkins, 2007). Elizabeth Evans, a lecturer in Film and Television Studies at the University of Nottingham, uses King Arthur as an illustration of the historical legacy of transmedia. Prior to the rapid technological advances of the past 20 years, the narrative of King Arthur has been told for generations through oral story-telling, paintings, books, plays, television, film and even places (eg. Tintagel, Cornwall, which is said to be the birthplace of King Arthur). Point being, transmedia is not necessarily a new notion, but is one that has simply become a more concrete narrative idea in more recent times (most likely because of the ease of collaboration, all thanks to Mr Technology!).

Transmedia means many things for its audience, but to sum it all up, we’ll use the word engagement. Implementing numerous formats to portray different segments of a narrative means that there are multiple points of entry. Unlike a movie, there is no finite end, and similarly, no definite beginning; there is instead openness. Stories are not tied to the channels delivering them to the audience (Mitew, 2013).

TransmediaFranchise

Let us look at Marvel, perhaps one of the most lucrative players in the transmedia game. TV Professor, Michael Niederman, concludes, “Marvel did a fabulous job. DC not so much” when referring to both organisation’s utilisation of transmedia. Marvel can be deemed successors as they established an entire outlet for collaboration of multiple media forms – they created a Marvel Cinematic Universe. This is a film franchise that encompasses not only a number of interwoven films, but exploits itself in comic books, short films and a television series. It has constructed the entire Marvel narrative that will only ever be complete when each piece is connected, as illustrated above. Niederman continues to elaborate: “It’s the fact that they said, ‘We’re going to create this universe, then we’re going to populate it with these pieces, that we’re clearly building toward this moment where we’re going to bring these pieces together.’”

It’s no wonder everybody fell madly in love with The Avengers – the ultimate compositional moment. The Avengers was a long-awaited project that integrated all those previously mentioned components into one, but why was it that transmedia made for a positive consumer experience? Engagement. The more points of entry available to the audience, the broader the demographic will be, which will in turn widen their market. More imperatively, the more points of entry, the more engagement the consumer can have with the content. Not only do the companies’ bank accounts scream ‘hooray!’ but so do we. Transmedia allows the audience to interact with content at their own pace – media is expositional, and is therefore, in a sense, untouchable, but transmedia is experiential. It places some of the power back into the audience’s hands – now that’s why everybody loves it so much!

For further reference, please see below:

What A Ride!

WHATARIDE

Well ladies and gentlemen, we’ve come to the part of the show where you sit back, relax, and enjoy the cheesy photo montage complimented by that slow, tear-jerking music – that’s right, it’s time to reflect upon our past 6 weeks together.

Okay, so maybe there will be no nostalgic flashback moments, but feel a little sense of honour as I’ve put on my special sentimental hat for this one.

Not to be cliché, but this journey of learning, blogging and cognitive challenges has been a bit of a rollercoaster!

Blogging.

Six weeks ago I was feeling pretty enthusiastic about the whole blogging process – to be frank I thought it’d be a walk in the park! Turns out thinking autonomously can be a real struggle, and I am thankful for my independent nature that actually enjoyed the challenge a little. It’s surprisingly been a really refreshing process; sitting down, looking through the weeks work and digging at it to see what spin I could take on it. It’s really evoked the process of metacognition – a term first introduced to me in year 11 English, one that I swore I’d never use again. Blogging has enabled me to think about thinking (which is essentially what metacognition is). It has forced me to be vastly more aware of my thought processes and has helped me to develop my own voice, and I count it a miracle for this to have occurred! There’s generally so much nonsense involving food and funny cat videos flooding my brain that I find it hard to reach clarity. Having an outlet, such as blogging, acts like a vacuum! It just sucks out all the rubbish to leave space for the goodies – Kudos to you Mr Blog!

Learning.

Throughout the past six weeks I’ve also gained a heap of intellectual knowledge! I almost feel expertise on the subject matter of media – okay, so maybe that’s a bit elaborate to say so soon? Nonetheless I’ve discovered the role media plays in our own personal lives and in society, and how each individual acts as not only a consumer, but a producer of content as well. One topic that struck a chord in me was that of Media Ownership. It almost frightened me to think that the content delivered to us is controlled, shaped, and sometimes manipulated by giant media conglomerates with mostly their own agenda at interest.

Not to be a cynic, but I’ve learnt that the media is the perfect tool to brainwash a society, so as active consumers, we have to be vigilant. It seems I’m not the only one to think so:

Media has the power to brainwash - http://25.media.tumblr.com/08b4964fc1648cd2745ad32a34dda67c/tumblr_mglsrmVVfe1rphiy1o1_500.jpg

Media has the power to brainwash (image found here)

Now, have no fear, I’m not completely sceptical, and do still have a little bit of faith left in the media. I know it’s not all doom and gloom, but through the past month I have developed a greater understanding over who controls the media, and how we can combat such attempts at mind control – one major conclusion being that we are allowed to challenge the media! We have the right to amplify our voice, and sometimes sitting back and just accepting the facts is good for nobody.

To recap: It’s been a ball having a legitimate excuse to shout my opinions wide and far, and have greatly appreciated the entire experience. Although it has been a rollercoaster, it’s been pretty darn good, and lucky for you guys, I’m a super avid fan of rollercoasters!

This is Lyd, signing off (for now anyway).

Night legends!

Magic Man

MAGICMAN

The mediated public sphere is a concept that – to be brutally honest – I could not be bothered to even comprehend. Thank goodness for that large slice of curiosity in me, as it pushed me to do a little research. It led me to this explanation, which was conveniently related to blogging:

“Blogging reverses a trend that had become increasingly worrying in an era dominated by mass media, namely the erosion of what the cultural critic Jurgen Habermas called ‘the public sphere‘–an area where citizens gather to generate opinions and attitudes that affirm or challenge the actions of the state.” (Naughton, 2009)

So, the public sphere essentially acts as a chat room that flourishes off of internal discussion about what’s going on in society. Now to throw the word mediated into the mix. The Mediated Public Sphere refers to a place where issues of the news and media sort can be debated.

Now, I did try with every inch of my teenage brain to figure out a way to relate Ridiculousness – a show that will literally make you roll on the floor laughing (at the expense of others wellbeing and dignity) – to this blog, but, I conceded defeat and thought I’d better go with something a little less… ridiculous. Perhaps Dynamo: Magician Impossible will go down nicely?

If you haven’t already heard of this strange yet intensely addictive fellow, then I shall enlighten you. He calls himself Dynamo, although his real name’s Steven Frayne, and occupies his days as an Illusionist/Magician. From the yonder land of Britain, he has released a number of television series, with his most famed being the latest Magician Impossible. The show clocked in over 1 million viewers with its first episode on Sky Channel, and its viewers have been left astonished worldwide.

This is the kind of show that, if your friends don’t know it, you grab their Smartphone, do some fierce googling and show them a video of any one of his mind-blowing tricks. It has ventured its way into the mediated public sphere over the controversy of whether his tricks are magic or simply sleight of hand. It is hard to believe that walking through glass or on water could be illusion alone, and many have argued that Dynamo is actually a Satanist! Now, whether that’s a bit excessive I really am not sure.

The guy is an absolute nut. He pop’s peoples mobile phones into glass bottles, reads participants minds, changes the name on a credit card to his own and the list just goes on and on – I should mention that he does this all on the streets, right in front of the people. So could this actually be real magic at work? Is the guy possessed by dark underworld powers? Or is it disappointingly staged, and we just play the fools whose jaws fall open when we watch?

Either way, Dynamo’s fan club consists of some of ‘Hollywood’s hottest’, including Will smith who describes his work as “Absolutely stunning” and Chris Martin who mused “The greatest magic I’ve ever seen!”.

Host of This Morning, a British daytime television show, Philip Schofield, had the opportunity of not only meeting Dynamo, but also witnessing a few of his tricks. His conclusion was simple and fitting: “It’s extraordinary, you can’t fake something like that. It’s just incredible.”

You be the judge! Is it real or not?

One thing that is real is that this show has caused mass discussion across the globe and, yeah, I thoroughly enjoy watching it – it’s a bit of an escape from this sometimes morbid place, and I’m a sucker for munching at magic tricks, even if they do find themselves on the public sphere plate.

For further reference, please see below:

Truth, Where Have You Gone?

TRUTHWHEREHAVEYOUGONE

The media is an inescapable and viscous monster, whose claw’s of control feed us selective news, opinions and gossip on whatever they pretty well please. The issue I am going to attempt to attack today is media control. Who the heck owns the media that floods us everyday, and why care?

Who? 6 Companies.

These guys own about 90% of all media content, including the news (both offline and online), radio, cinema and television. It’s scary to think that in 1983 there were 50 companies holding half of the power as these 6.

Just think – 6 companies have the control over the media on more than 3 continents on this planet. YOU are a part of that wider group, and “one way or another these gigantic media corporations are always going to express the ideological viewpoints of their owners” (Michael, 2010)

Why Care?

As much as we’d like to believe we live in a non-bias world, and are shown every angle of what goes on around us, this planet is just not that pleasant. As media consumers we do have the right to hear the entire story, yet corporate giants such as Rupert Murdoch would debate otherwise. Murdoch was a businessman cross entrepreneur famed for his associations with News Corporation, a global media conglomerate.

To avoid boring you, I’ll skip the nitty gritty over this fellow, but in brief Murdoch had vast control over not only the Australian media, but globally as well. He has drawn wide criticism for monopolizing media control and for utilizing it as an outlet to inflict his personal conservative political views – a point that displays the fierce dangers of such constricted control on the media.

Although it seems elaborate to compare the likes of Murdoch to dictators such as Adolf Hitler and Joseph Stalin, the immediate effects and intent are uncannily similar. The common denominator between these three was their pursuit of ultimate control, with, in my personal reflection, Murdoch being the most successful of them all. The reason we should give a damn about who is pulling the strings behind the media scope is because they are pulling the strings on us too! If we do not have access to the utter truth, we will forever be misguided and blinded, and if we are not aware of who does have ownership we are essentially letting them brainwash us.

See no evil, hear no evil, do no evil

See no evil, hear no evil, do no evil

The media giants are taping our mouths shut and are being selective in what they show us. So please fellow bloggers, open your eyes and don’t be afraid to challenge what you hear and see!

For further reference, please see below:

The Colour Card

THECOLOURCARD

So a picture says a thousand words, right?

As true as that timeless statement is, I feel as though the advertisers for Sony should’ve been a little more vigilant with what words this striking advertisement was conveying.

Here we have a commercial for the new PlayStation Portable, with its latest color scheme of white being introduced. I will agree, the white looks classy and could’ve been a great hit, but our friends over at Netherlands Sony advertising had to go play the colour card, didn’t they!

Although the image is simple, and makes a point over the contrasting colours, it unleashed much debate in the public sphere. Rick Callender, president of the San Jose/Silicon Valley NAACP was outraged by the image saying:

“Their attempt to contrast colors clearly created controversy and sparked painful feelings in the global community. Hopefully in the future, Sony will employ a better litmus test to their ad campaigns to determine if they will be sour to the taste of worldwide consumers.”

So what do we have here?

At a single glance of the image we see:

  • A blonde, Caucasian woman violently holding the jaw of a black woman
  • Both women’s eyes are interlocked
  • The clothing of both complements their skin colour
  • The subject’s are laid upon a black background
  • The text of the ad is white

What do we really have here?

Although the elements noted above are what we see immediately, a much deeper message can be drawn from the image when we evaluate those key signs and symbols.

The bright, almost, fluorescent white of the second subject’s hair, clothes and skin juxtaposed against the black background, and the black woman, wearing all black clothing, enforces the idea of a great contrast between the two. The tight, and intimidating grip the white woman has over the black woman complements this contrast, and alludes to a certain power she holds. This inadvertently makes a very bold statement that ‘white trumps black’ – an age-old issue that has sparked controversy since the beginning of time!

The aggressive facial expressions upon the white subject remind me of an animal, with the placement of the hand upon the jaw line suggesting absolute power over the black woman. To be honest, when I first glanced at the image, I almost didn’t see the first woman as she blended very naturally into the background. This is not an unintentional effect. This enforces the notion of the luminance of white, and the secrecy of black, and while the advertisement IS actually trying to convey the competition between black and white, the use of race was an insensitive card to play. I am in fact reminded strongly of the matter of slavery.

Thankfully, Sony got its act together and pulled the plug on the advertisement, with a statement from one of its representatives, which if you are really bothered to read, you can see right here. They, inevitably, underwent a bit of fire for the ad, with people screaming “RACIST!” from left, right and center. I chuckled at Ryan Block’s view on the ordeal:

Because mistake or not, this biz doesn’t fly, Sony, and you’re not helping the perception that you’re an incredibly callous megacorp with little real direction.”

Now, I know that if I were to read one of those Advertising For Dummies guides that it would tell me to target your demographics emotions and the ‘shock tactic’ produces results, but Sony, my dear friend, you’ve gone a little too far on this one – oh and just quietly, being racist won’t bump up your profits.

For further reference please see below:

  • Sony Pulls Controversial PSP ads – Gamespot
  • Sony Under Fire for “racist” Advertising – Engadget
  • Sony Pulls “Racist” ad Video

Faith in Humanity Restored

I will be the first to admit that watching the 6 o’clock news each day is not something that appears on my list of priorities. It’s an astonishment that I have even a glimmer of insight into trending global affairs, however, with internet platforms – specifically social networks – acting as an open forum for individuals to broadcast their every waking moment, it’s no wonder I am able to stay in the loop. Those annoying friends who bombard your twitter feed can now feel a sense of pride; they’re simply a spanner in the works of Citizen Journalism.

Citizen journalism transforms us from being the once dormant audience (consumers) into being active participants, who both view and create content (prosumers). We are constantly collaborating with an entire network of other average citizens to create a news sphere that stretches beyond the means of traditional journalism. “Citizen journalism is discursive and deliberative, and better resembles a conversation than a lecture” (Gillmor, 2003). It isn’t bound by the constraints of authority or obligation, and so information can be published at a more rapid and personal rate, being delivered to our very own newsfeed or mobile phone at any second.

The BBC have taken the idea of Citizen Journalism and embraced it. They are currently undergoing a process of restructuring to enable full utilization of the content and resources that its average viewer has to share. You see, we are no longer merely being spoon-fed the news, but have an entire buffet of different spoons at our access, and if need be, can throw our own spoon in too!

BBC took note on July 7th 2005, when terrorists bombed a London subway, sending the whole nation into a state of hysteria. Prior to the onslaught of photographs, emails and SMS messages being broadcasted across the web, the explosion was deemed as nothing more than a “power surge”. It wasn’t until the story was taken into the hands of innocent bystanders that the full truth was revealed. Richard Sambrook, a BBC employee speculated, “when major events occur, the public can offer us as much new information as we are able to broadcast to them. From now on, news coverage is a partnership.

However, having the liberty of producing content and unmonitored access to home brewed news has caused the current demographic to become skeptical consumers. Instead of placing the entirety of their trust in the Newspaper, as was done so readily 20 years ago, the people seem to have more trust in those around them. It seems like an odd notion, especially when the giant media conglomerates were once prided in their unquestionable credibility, however this idea of – as lame as it sounds – restoring faith in fellow humanity is almost profound. It seems to me that Citizen Journalism is not only a matter of uploading a picture of a local traffic jam from your smart phone to twitter, but is a far more sincere attempt of regaining the hope and trust found solely in those that surround us… and if it had a cheesy tag line, I believe it would go something like: made by people, for people.

For further reference, please see below:

Aware VS Active

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KONY 2012. We’ve all heard of it, and if you haven’t, maybe go see what’s happening in places other than that rock you’re living under. It was a phase – a whirlpool of hype – that shook the country for little over a month. Everywhere we looked we’d see posters, or statuses, or videos. We really could not escape it. Essentially, the point of it all was to raise awareness over the issues of child soldiers in Africa, and to attempt to stop the ringleader of the whole ordeal, Mr Joseph Kony.

The promotions seemed reasonable, and were greatly emotive. They evoked anger into the hearts of many people. So much so, that people began to stir up and do radical things… like share the YouTube videos, or even like a facebook page here and there. I even heard of a few who were really controversial, who defiantly stuck a number of poster’s up in public arenas. The response to the whole campaign was overwhelming and really heartwarming. A revolution was in our midst!

(Now, I hope you picked up on my sarcasm)

All the shenanigans surrounding the Kony Campaign, personally, drove me up the wall. There is little more frustrating than people feeling as though they are doing the world some good by just clicking a few buttons here and there.

The swift advancement in technologies and social platforms has resulted in an indescribable change in its users. We have learnt to live our entire lives with our eyes locked to the screen. Today’s generation have become complacent in relying so heavily on hiding behind a keyboard and monitor, and although the evolution of technology has allowed us to be 25 times more informed and aware of the global circumstances, we are about 65 times less active*.

So, no, the real issue here is not Kony. What I am worried about is the wearing down of human emotion. With every day that passes that we use a social media platform we become more and more numb to the world around us. We protest that we have grown into participants, fighters for the cause, when really, we are only becoming more shallow, smug and content with what we have, that the only nerve we have is used to share a measly 30 minute video.

Take a look at the following images – they made me chuckle – but truthfully, they couldn’t be more spot on!

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Image

Image

It’s one thing to be aware, but a completely different thing to be active. Choose wisely.

*Figures made up for dramatic effect

For further reference, please see below: