Archive for the ‘Convergence Culture’ Category

In the past, one would use the home as a sanctuary, a place of privacy. It used to be considered a place where you could test the social boundaries in a safe place where no prying eyes would see. You could swear, burp, fart, get drunk and swear and it would be no body’s business because, well, you were in the privacy of your own home.

With the growing popularity of amateur culture and converging medias, the internet has allowed us to achieve different levels of “fame” through blogging and now, through youtube (which has introduced the visual side of communication on the internet). This form of media communication on the internet has done something special as it allowed us to have access to the “screen” (which is considered to be the highest alter upon which we can worship – media-wise) and be in complete control of it. This is especially true because our activity in amateur videography is important because it is taking place during a time that is being focused almost entirely on the silver screen. In order to understand why we are so in love with seeing ourselves on youtube, though, we have to get a better understanding of the old media version’s use.

Home movies are filmed “simple situations”. They often had a staged feeling to them because of the economics, technology and conditions of what was being shot. The audiences were obviously highly localized and the content was supposed to be comparable to a “slice” of everyday life. Although this last metaphor is true, these films were still often stereotypical. These movies are special because they are said to be, as stated by Dr. Strangelove, “the closest to the scene”. They have a documentary feel and the aesthetics of these types of films have been used in other forms of media, (i.e. The Kids in the Hall opening credits).

Home movies today today aren’t as positive as they used to be. The role of filmmaker has switched from the parent to the child, and now parents are the victims of these new films. Examples of these films today would be videos containing a drunk parent, a sibling getting in trouble or freaking out, a parent freaking out or doing something that would be considered obscure in society, but the parent thinks they are safe as they are in their home. The parent not being in control of what is being seen gives these movies a completely different feel, and this feel is breaking social rules.

Not only are the rules being broken, but no consequences are happening after these breaches of privacy! Norm violations are happening domestically, and the idea of what happens at home stays at home is being erased from our society. This is happening because teenagers are getting ahold of the camera, and are videotaping parts of family-life that are supposed to be private; these videos are becoming normative.

In the “butt-rape girl” video, a brother records his sister getting in trouble for making a potentially dangerous choice to go out and meet someone she found over the internet. The boy interrupts in the middle of his mother’s lecture and starts teasing his sister while she is freaking out and breaking down. Instead of stepping in and intervening, the mother started laughing, even though it was quite obvious that the boy’s intentions were to exploit his sister over the internet. The boy received no consequence, but his sister’s consequence for the video will be permanent/lifelong. Although it may be humorous for us an audience to think about, I highly doubt that this girl is happy with the fact that if her identity is found out, she will forever be known as “butt rape girl”.

Youtube is, again, destroying people’s identity thhttps://pabloandgillian.wordpress.com/wp-admin/media-upload.php?post_id=151&TB_iframe=true&width=640&height=475rough exposing them at their most vulnerable, when their at home under the assumption that they are away from public eyes. They are breaking interpersonal trust through these rule breaking videos and behaviour.

Here are some examples:

My Mom Drunk – 34, 220 views

Man on Myspace!! (raped in the butt) – 50, 074 views

Greatest Freakout Ever – 20, 900, 895 views

– Gillian Holloway


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On the outside I am a 21 year old Commnications student at the University of Ottawa as well as a part-time Barista. I work long hours and am always grumpy. I have tattoos so that must mean that I listen to punk or loud music.  I put a lot of effort into my outfits and always dress obscurely, which demonstrates my love for fashion, right? Wrong…. or at least in the world wide web it is.

On my blog/in World of Warcraft/on my v-log I am a multitalented, food critic/rogue-zombie-wizard/a comedian-fashion critic, sharing my opinion and my face with the world. Don’t be fooled by my exterior, this is my real identity.

In all seriousness, identies formed on the internet can be the most extravagant things. As said in class “Internet could provide new values, something we desperately need,” and so far this is true through its rapidly innovating culture.  Culture is something that provides us with scripts, but is not an “iron cage” that says that the scripts provided must be followed exclusively. It pulls things from different aspects around us and creates characteristics that make each culture distinct.  Culture also provides choices, it forces us to choose how we want to represent ourselves. Commercial media = the main provider of these scripts, and therefore produce our identity.

But now-a-days it is obvious that we have a new form of prouction: amateur mode. This new mode is quite influential, as given that it is just as accessible and often more relatable than the mainstream media, it is also creating culture and therefore shaping our identities.  Some examples of this would be:

  • Jackass, many videos recreating the stupid events taking place in the shows have been made in the past, and even sometimes considered a part of someone’s personality.  For a while, there were kids who actually wanted to do things, like stand in a port-a-potty and have it pushed over with them inside for a living.
  • Phil DeFranco: people all over the internet are copying his style of blogging, but he might not necessarily be the original of his kind.
  • J & J’s wedding dance: this sort of wedding entrance is being mimicked all over the world, and is an extremely popular video on youtube now. Even the popular show “The Office” copied it and used a dance sequence into a wedding ceremony in the show.

People now know Phil DeFranco based on his constructed identity, and some people copy him and incorporate his style into their lives. Others will be doing “wedding dances” for years to come, but youtube isn’t the only form of building an identity.

For our group project, we have been considering focusing on identity on the internet, although it is a broad topic some of the aspects we were considering looking at were:

  • The types of identity and where they are formed: social networking sites like facebook vs. youtube.  Youtube is pretty exposing of the subject in the video, but facebook can be controlled. How do people share their information on facebook? How personal is it? Is it too MUCH information? Why do they share this much information? How much of it is true?
  • World of Warcraft: as stated in class, Dr. Strangelove joked (but he could have been serious), about pretending to be a 16 year old girl as he plays his games. How much honesty is behind each of these characters? Do people take their characters seriously in real life? Why do they choose to play this game that costs so much money, and is so time consuming?
  • Branching outward: Look at celebrities of today. Lady Gaga and Spencer and Heidi from the Hills. Who are these people and why do they deserve the attention they get? There is no logical response, but they are famous for something (although I am a fan of both the Hills and Lady Gaga, I recognize that they are entirely overhyped). What do they do? Heidi and Spencer (or Speidi as they’re more commonly known) are famous for being on a reality show that gets less than 5million viewers a season and Lady Gaga writes mediocre songs but seems to have a large cult follwing and she only emerged in the past year. Either way, these people are famous for doing their jobs, living up to their media-created, superficial identities.
  • Celebrity blogs: although we all read them (or at least most of us do), celebrity bloggers are becoming more and more popular. People like Perez Hilton and Harvey Levin of TMZ are becoming famous because of these blogs, but are not significant otherwise. Why do we like them so much? Yes, they give us gossip on the rich and famous, but other than that what are their identities? Who are they and why do we view them as so credible?

Although this is a very vague idea of what could be talked about in our group project, there is still lots of information that can back up each of these points, as well as opinions and even firsthand ethnographic/interpersonal research. This project will be a very interesting piece to work on, for sure.

– Gillian Holloway

Lady Gaga, pop star and media darling. This girl features the words "Pop Culture" on a pair of light up sunglasses in one of her music videos, but she was obviously not always this obscure. Hopefully more research will offer information on her real identity.

Spencer and Heidi put on bunny ears for easter. Considering this is not something most regular people would consider doing, why do Heidi and Spencer feel the need to?

Although they work for seperate celebrity blogs, Havey Levin and Perez Hilton are pictured here, together. Could this be because they are sharing an inside joke based on the fabrication of their identities as well as their needless stardom?

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In Convergence Culture, Jenkins talks about the Spoiling community and how it’s grown in popularity over the years.  In one of the more interesting parts of the chapters he talks about this community as a form of collective intelligence.  He quotes Pierre Levy and then goes on more about the subject, and explaining his quote by saying “collective intelligence refers to this ability of virtual communities to leverage the combined expertise of their members. What we cannot know or do on our own, we may now be able to do collectively. And this organization of audiences into what Levy calls knowledge communities allows them to exert a greater aggregate power in their negotiations with media producers. The emergent knowledge culture will never fully escape the influence of commodity culture, any more than commodity culture can totally function outside the constraints of the nation-state.” (Convergence Culture, page 27).

He goes on to say that “New forms of community are emerging, however: these new communities are defined through voluntary, temporary, and tactical affiliations, reaffirmed through common intellectual enterprises and emotional investments. Members may shift from one group to another as their interests and needs change, and they may belong to more than one community at the same time. These communities, however, are held together through the mutial production and reciprocal exchange of knowledge.  As Levy writes, such groups ‘make available to the collective intellect of all the pertinent knowledge available to it at a given moment.’ More importantly, they serve as sites for ‘collective discussion, negotiation, development,’ and they prod the individual memebers to seek out new information for the common good: ‘Unanswered questions will create tension… indicating regions where invention and innovation are required.’ ” (page 27)

In the text, Jenkins chose to use the spoiling community of Survivor fans as an example of this new trend/phenomenon.  I am not the biggest Survivor fan, and used to make fun of the type of people mentioned in this chapter, until I started watching Gossip Girl.  Although one show is “reality” and the other is fictional, both of these television shows are excruciatingly popular. During Season 1 of Gossip Girl, I promised myself that I would not get myself addicted to the show that was devouring my friends’ Monday nights. During Season 2, though, I got quite sick and watched a few episodes while at home and couch-ridden. I was hooked. Now, I have to follow the show religiously, and I have to discuss it right after. One of my best friends from highschool and I now meet up every Tuesday for coffee just so we can sit and discuss the previous episodes, and pool our knowledge of the book series as well as analysis of each character to try and predict what will happen in future episodes.  It is our “water cooler” conversation whenever we are both on Instant Messenger or when the conversation runs dry during a hang-out. We have become “Spoilers” in person, and sometimes reference site similar to the ones mentioned in the text, only about our TV show. Although I used to make fun of the types of people mentioned, it is only a matter of time before my friend Margot and I take our opinions and predictions online, I am sure (as embarassing as it may be to admit).

In a show about spoiled youth growing up on the Upper East Side of Manhattan, Chuck Bass and Blair Waldorf (featured above) are two of the most popular characters. Although they only recently confirmed their love for each other and decided to be in a relationship this season, (season 3), Margot and I had been predicting their romance since the beginning of season 2. This is just one example of how she and I partake in this sort of community.

– Gillian Holloway

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Given that we have only experienced an introductory lecture on the topics that will be discussed in class, I have decided that it would be a good idea to write about what one of the grandfathers of pop-culture and consumerism would think of this course/pop-culture today.

The quote in the title is one of the most popular statements made by Andy Warhol, said in 1968. 42 years later, does this still ring true? Undoubtedly. Pop-culture today is about as rich in content as Gossip Girl or The Hills (which are, although content and mindless, two of the most popular television shows on the air presently). Although we know that Britney’s most recent meltdown and the fact that *insert obscure indie band here* is not really as original as they may seem and are in reality biting the sounds of, hmm…, let’s say David Bowie, are irrelevant in our everyday lives, we cannot tear our minds away from these useless stories. As for products, we want what the rich have, and obsess over products that are as simple as Pepsi just because we saw Lindsay Lohan drinking one on TMZ the other night.  But is this all new? No, not really.

Today, because of convergence and different mediums being easily accessed by almost anyone, anyone can get their “15 minutes”, and without much effort.  For instance, the text Convergence Culture provides the example of a highschool student who had photoshopped a picture of Bert from Sesame Street with Osama Bin Laden by his side (as well as a few other images), to make the slogan “Bert Is Evil” a household slogan. What he didn’t expect, though was a publisher in Bangladesh to use the same images on anti-american posters, t-shirts and billboards in a rally demonstrating hatred towards our southern neighbors.  The student received nationwide attention, and there was major conflict about who the creators of Sesame Street would take legal action against for the slandering of one of their characters, the student or the anti-America demonstrators.  Regardless, for a few weeks, everyone who watches CNN knew the name Dino Ignacio.

Is Warhol’s prediction coming true? In a sense, yes, as seen with Dino; but at the same time, the vast differences between pop-culture during his time and pop-culture now would have been impossible to predict.  This is because of what Jenkins calls  “convergence culture, where old media and new media collide, where grassroots and corporate media intersect, where the power of the media producer and the media consumer interact in unpredictable ways”.

This convergence culture can be seen in a number of things today, online magazines, radio stations on the television, photoshopped images of larger females moshing turned into parodies of Beatles’ album covers (as seen below, this also got a bit of media attention as there was about 100 different scenes created with her picture without her permission.  See below for an example). It deals with three things in particular as well: media convergence, which is when different forms of media combine and collaborate to achieve a greater result than what they were receiving on their own; participatory culture which explains the relationships the media provider has with the audience in the way that they consume it as no two audience members are the same; and lastly, consumption and collective intelligence which deals with people gaining more knowledge by pooling our resources and combining information and the power that this will allow the media producers to have.  Convergence culture is still relatively new but is growing in popularity and acceptance.

So what would Mr. Warhol think of this new term? Personally, I believe that he would be thrilled. He was already ahead of his time with this concept by combining consumerism and high-art together, converging two things that no one else would have even dreamed of considering. Maybe because of this, he would not be so surprised, but it is easy to say that he is resting easy in his grave when discussing the topic of Pop-Culture.

These pictures graced many message boards with their presence and were once a "hot topic". Everyone knew who "Moshzilla" was. Unfortunately, they are harder to find these days.

– Gillian Holloway

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