Monday, April 13, 2015

Core Response #5: TV & Industry Studies

Industrial context can be so crucial to really understanding a TV series, so it makes a lot of sense industry studies is such a thriving subfield within TV studies right now. As Caldwell writes, “Televisual form in the age of digital simply cannot be accounted for without talking about the institutional forces that spur and manage these forms” (p.46). We’ve already touched a lot on how the network can dictate a lot about a show’s identity - for example when I talked about Gogglebox’s US remake The People’s Couch on Bravo, it makes sense the American viewers fit into a Bravo cast and also watch a lot of Bravo reality TV. Most of us seem to love 30 Rock - and all the tongue in check product placement stuff is great commentary on network TV practices, especially post Writers Strike. I also have this theory that any workplace TV show at some point becomes a metaphor for working in TV. Last week we talked about how V. Mars in binge form can be more satisfying - proving it was once again before its time! Hannibal was also interesting in terms of its placement on NBC - so no strong language or nudity, but a lot of violence. This reminded me of a lot of movies who are sooo violent, but a film like Blue Valentine becomes NC 17 at first because of sexual content, with an emphasis on female pleasure.

 Another element to consider is the convergence era that Jenkins discusses in his 2014 article, providing a cultural studies framework to how technology is effecting the media landscape. When he talks about the two kinds of media power (p.35), he firstly points out “media concentration, where any message gains authority simply by being broadcast on network television.” The second kind “comes through collective intelligence, where a message gains visibility only if it is deemed relevant to a loose network of diverse publics.”” He goes on “Broadcasting will place issues on the national agenda and define core values. Grasroots media will reframe those issues for different publics and ensure that everyone has a chance to be heard. Innovation will occur on the fringes; consolidation in the mainstream.” Jenkins asserts that that is a little too orderly, but it made me think of the response to the Deadline diversity article. If we were in another era, the response wouldn’t have been as immediate. The reaction may not initially make the writer, publication or industry change their mind, but it will at first encourage media professionals to be less bigoted when they consider the implications of the media industry representations on TV. Further on convergence, Jenkins writes it is “both a top-down corporate-driven process and a bottom-up consumer-driven process. Media companies are learning how to accelerate the flow of media content across delivery channels to expand revenue opportunities, broaden markets and reinforce viewer commitments” (37). He believes that “if the old consumers were assumed to be passive, the new consumer os active.” 37 cont’d. I also am a fan of this gentle call,this pretty hilarious and spot on call for HBO to show “dongs.”

 I’m interested in what Caldwell addresses that “an endless ‘ancillary afterlife’ was now a possibility for all show; if not in off-prime time, then in digital form.” (p.47). “ This for me also connects to what we think about quality TV discussions from last week - narrative complexity and aesthetic detail, provided with higher production values, make a viewer want to re-watch an episode for these reasons, the viewer enjoys the look of the show, finding details she didn’t notice the first watch, etc. And of course, we can link film professionals moving to TV as an outcome of fewer mid-range films being made - there’s a third world nature to how films are made now, they are either very low budget indies or very high budget franchise, sequels, etc. Looking forward to talking more about industry studies in class!


  1. Stefania –

    Great questions regarding the various dimensions of industry studies which I am looking forward to discussing tomorrow. The gendered dynamic of how content is industrially regulated is especially curious (I remember us discussing this regarding nudity on Game of Thrones for our 500 presentation) – perhaps raising the question of what kind of consumer/participant (i.e. male, of a certain demographic) a channel like HBO imagines to be subscribing to its network and participating in its show’s fan communities. The call you post presents a humorous challenge to these assumptions around for whose viewing pleasure these shows are generated….

    -Allison Ross

  2. Stefania! This is amazing! It's interesting that my friends were trying to convince me to start watching Game of Thrones and besides being thoroughly bored by the episode we screened in TV theory one of my biggest gripes was that I didn't feel like watching an hour of boobs in my face and getting dongs! As a female viewer I'm not interested in seeing bare breasts, it just doesn't feel like real explicit content considering I have my own pair. Anyway, it was funny because my friends said that GOT had a pretty high BPM (Boobs per minute) ratio while their DPE (Dongs per episode) ratio was quite low, if nonexistent. It's interesting that even with an already polarized ratio (minute vs. episode) GOT can't seem to deliver the goods. Long story short, I have not started watching GOT and probably won't watch it.

  3. sorry that's meant to read get no* dongs!