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2.1 Entertain Me! Who makes your entertainment? Institutions, audiences & participatory culture.

1.    Summarise the main points in the readings noting your agreement and disagreement with the ideas and opinions of the author/speaker.

After reading about blockbusters in Marco Cucco’s  The promise is great: the blockbuster and the Hollywood economy (2009), I came away thinking that the entertainment business is a cut throat business that is out to make the maximum amount of money from the masses. To paraphrase, named after a large-scale bomb used in WWII, blockbusters represent the idea of big productions equalling higher earnings at the box office. (Cucco, 2009).

In the 1950’s, blockbusters included The Ten Commandments, Ben-Hur and Cleopatra, however, it was the 1970’s hit, Jaws, that took a big bite at the process of marketing such big films and influence  the way they are released today. Using  TV as a major marketing tool, blockbusters were advertised using a saturation technique, paradoxically, I thought, as television was also a major competitor. The use of pay TV, home video, broadcasting as secondary markets afforded film companies more expensive projects. (Cited from Thomas Shatz, 2003). Households became “entertainment centers, changing the forms and places of film consumption” (Gomery, 1992).

Blockbusters are generally expensive to make and the two biggest reasons are the special effects used and the highly sought directors and actors. These costs can be more than marketing costs as new technology for special effects needs to be developed to outdo competitors, to outdo even their own studio’s previous films. Special effects are made to be experienced in a cinema thereby ensuring the longevity of this type of movie. More often than not special effects are used by Sci-Fi, action and adventure genres, not so much musicals, westerns or costume films, which works because blockbusters are aimed at a younger audience, who “are the most willing to move outside the home to find entertainment”. (Marich, 2005). Human resources costs count for a majority of expenses due to the fact that a film can be sold on an actor’s “image and reputation” (Cucco, 2009) for example, Superman the Movie with Christopher Reeve was given the green light only after Marlon Brandon accepted the part for Jor-El, Superman’s father.

Today, blockbusters have a bad reputation for not being particularly creative. They seem to remake a lot of concepts or add sequels and prequels. Cucco explains that blockbusters are an internationally commercial product (not artistic) used to cover other studio films that do not do well. So using blockbusters as “tent poles” (King, 2002) they support the economy of an entire studio. These movies can be all special effects and no substance, but if there is a fan base out there, then it makes no difference. With regards to Jenkins’s theory of loyals, then it makes sense that a fan will go see the movie and buy the merchandise despite the reviews.

I’ve also took note that in order for film to be a blockbuster according to Cucco, it has to be “a simple, immediate, easily recognizable identity.” And key features include:

  • simplification of characters and narration
  • close relationship between image and sound
  • give more importance to special effects for spectacularity
  • Image, the contrast between good and bad
  • music, soundtrack
  • sequels, prequels and remakes
  • be open to merchandising (toys, games, clothes)

So, just touching again on the saturation technique, a blockbuster film will be heavily advertised on TV (and on the net, eg YouTube) then be released worldwide on the opening weekend, ensuring maximum exposure and next to no competition… This film is aimed at young target audience that is willing to invest their time and money, particularly if they are loyal to the concept (for example Star Trek), loyal to the actor (Johnny Depp is my personal favourite) or director (Tim Burton has a mass following).

With such wealth of evidence to support that blockbusters are made to take my money, even when I know that they are all special effects and no substance, personally? I can’t wait for the next Pirates of the Caribbean installment!

Cucco, M. (2009). The promise is great: the blockbuster and the Hollywood economy. Media, Culture and Society, 31(2), 215-230

2.    Identify the individuals, organisations and technologies involved in the production, delivery and consumption of the text you chose last week. You may use any source to identify this information, but you must reference your sources.

My chosen text is Bridget Jones’s Diary, written by Helen Fielding, first published in 1996 by Picador, England. It is one of my favourite books to read and I like it so much I also have Bridget Jones: The Edge of Reason, published in 1999. The books were published also by Penguin Group Inc in the USA.

“A big Jane Austen fan, Helen Fielding cheerfully admits she “pillaged her plot” from Pride and Prejudice. She modeled the sequel on Persuasion.” (Penguin Group USA, 2011). Both these authors inspire and entertain me.  Imagine my surprise and delight when a film was made, then a subsequent sequel!

Bridget Jones’s Diary was released by Universal Studios in Australia in 2001. It was directed by Sharon Maguire, produced by Little Bird, Studio Canal and Working Title Films and it starred Renee Zellweger, Colin Firth and Hugh Grant. Bridget Jones: The Edge of Reason was released and produced by Universal Studios in 2004, directed by Beeban Kidron and starred by the same cast.

Information obtained from Penguin Group USA, 2100:

http://us.penguingroup.com/static/rguides/us/bridget_joness_diary.html

and IMDb, 2011:

http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0243155/

http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0317198/

3.    Incorporate any of your reflections, ideas, opinions about issues addressed in lectures, readings and/or tutorial activities.

My Reaction to Vidding

Vidding (2008) a series of short videos about fans making video clips of their favourite shows which includes music.

After watching all the short videos on vidding, I found that I really wanted to do one (or two!) myself and this could actually help me with my remediation project. So after having a look at my own PC, I have indeed found Window Live Movie Maker!

Will now attempt to import pics and add music for Mr Darcy – My remediation project.

I took notes on vidding and found that people generally do it because it makes them feel happy and they really love doing it. It’s way to express their devotion to TV series, movies or books that engage them.  I also found out that vidding have been around since the 70’s using the available technologies like slide projectors; VCR’s and PC’s.

What makes a good vid is the song choice, as well as one that has meaning and is entertaining. While a bad vid is one that makes no sense, has no planning and bad cutting. Vids are watched at home, at work, at Uni, cafes with Wi-Fi but mostly at Vidding Conventions with other like minded people.

There is a large vidding community that enjoy learining from others and inspiring others, they make vids because it’s a creative outlet and when a fan has something to say, they can be sure there’s that community willing to listen.

This is participatory culture and fandom at it’s best.

Fanfic

I believe that after reading the terminology of fan fiction and all that it entails, I am becoming more aware that  people who take part in writing to satisfy their hunger for their entertainment are everywhere! So much so that there is a Fannish community and that community is quite broad, and encompasses all devotions. These fans of whatever show, movie or book, whatever genre, write for the love of it. They write fiction that is accessible to other fans and although  the authors of the original text might not endorse fan fiction, the fans persevere particularly if they feel that a loop hole needs to be dealt with or a different point of view is needed as seen through the eyes of minor characters.

Because fan fiction can be a long story or a short story and be whatever genre, it has inspired me to start writing. I understand that I can write in response to other fan fiction; I can make myself a character in my own story and I can make it a romance with a happy ending. If only life was the same way!

http://fanlore.org/wiki/Fanfiction

Lecture: Tama Leaver, The Horrible Future of Entertainment Media

Dr Leaver’s lecture on the ever changing landscape of entertainment media bought to light the way I view my self as a viewer of TV shows and movies. I learned that  in fact, I am a “loyal” (Jenkins 2006 cited in Leaver 2011). I watch several shows almost religiously, and if I miss an episode I must either catch it online or buy the box set! Shows like NCIS, Heroes, and yes even Buffy!

I understood the notion that I’m quite behind the US in regards to some of my favourite shows and have often watched webisodes, and been on US forums to keep up. So the idea of distributing media on a global scale, changing to cater to international fans is something that should be studied closely.

Using Joss Whedon to illustrate his point, Dr Leaver has immediately put me at ease because Whedon is one of my favourite creators of all time. I can relate when Dr Leaver explains a fan base as complete as Whedon’s would come together to support his “Plan”. And in doing so setting new boundaries in the way media is distributed. By producing and releasing the mini series themselves The Whedon camp have bypassed all the pomp and ceremony of the Studio and generations of legal precedents.

Dr Leaver asks if Dr Horrible is a model for new creators and goes on to answer by explaining that not everyone enjoys a transparent relationship with their fan base as the Whedon camp does and that “conversations with fans take time to build…move beyond franchises.” (Dr T Leaver 2011) Producers and creators must be able to have the support of their fans to make a move like this acceptable. I ask myself this question, could a studio get away with giving away the rights to one their movies the way that the Whedons have done with Dr Horrible? I don’t think so.

4.    Identify a text that you consider to be particularly interactive. Note the features that make the text interactive.

After much thought and many ideas (such as Channel 10’s Biggest Loser) I have come up with the best example by my way of thinking! I only hope I’m heading in the right direction and not completely misunderstanding the question. I have chosen The Matrix and more to the point, Enter The Matrix PlayStation 2 game.

Released in 2003, it was simultaneously produced with the sequels The Matrix Reloaded and The Matrix Revolutions. It is among many media used by the Wachowskis to tell the story of the The Matrix which is why I love the concept so much. I have in my possession, all three movies; the Anime DVD as well as the game. There are also two more games, MMORPG The Matrix Online and The Matrix: Path of Neo. There is also comic books and short stories in the franchise.

The game consists of two minor characters’ point of view in similar missions as those in the films, in fact the story is intertwined and even though the plot is not overly influenced by the game, the experience becomes richer to the fan by simply being part of the journey. As one uses the controller, screens which are design to roughly imitate a DOS program appear where one must “hack'” in order to acquire skills, weapons and maps.

“The simple fact is that Enter the Matrix isn’t just a video game set in the film’s universe – it’s a highly integral part of the multimedia Matrix experience that the Wachowskis aimed to create. Not only do events from the game spill into Reloaded’s action, but the film also converges with ETM. If you haven’t seen one or played the other, you’ll never be able to see the full picture. Which makes it a great relief to find that Enter the Matrix is a hugely playable and highly polished title with amazing production values that isn’t so much the game of the movie as it is the game within the movie.” (Sony PlayStation Games, 2011)

This game to me, is what makes the movie most interactive and extremely enjoyable to take part in.

http://au.playstation.com/ps2/games/detail/item34648/Enter-the-Matrix/

 
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Posted by on 03/16/2011 in MED104

 

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Remediation Project

After much thought and a late night brain storm with the help of Jos, I came up with the idea of using Mr Darcy from Bridget Jones’s Diary. As we all know Helen Fielding mentioned loosely basing her novel on Jane Austin’s Pride and Prejudice. Fielding’s novel was then made into a movie and a sequel was also produced.

What really tickles my fancy is that Colin Firth has played Mr Darcy in the BBC Worldwide TV mini-series Pride and Prejudice in 1995 as well as in both Bridget Jones’s Diary and Bridget Jones: The edge of reason, in 2001 and 2004 respectively.

Now to figure out how put the idea together. I thought I might put some images of Colin Firth in the role and then add music, but I’m still not sure how to go about this…

 
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Posted by on 03/14/2011 in MED104

 

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