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Three Questions To ‘Ponder’

Posted in Uncategorized with tags on November 7, 2010 by Adam Broome
  1. How useful is the notion of genre for explaining the full range of modern media texts?
  2. Which types of cultural production appear to be the most generic and why? Which appear to be the least generic and why? How do these reflections tie into the work you are doing on your optional modules?
  3. Does the notion of genre aid our understanding of newer forms of cultural production such as online production? Does Adorno’s thesis still hold true given the ‘democratic’ nature of the internet?

Responses:

1. I think genre is still relevant to cinema, as there are modern trends within cinema (such as superhero movies) which follow conventions to target audiences if. If genre was not relevant, ‘trends’ and ‘fashions’ would not exist. However, user-generated content do not have audiences. ‘Charlie Bit My Finger’ was put up on Youtube because the maker thought it was cute and decided to share it with the world. No profit was intending to be made from it. No audience needed to be targeted. Thus, genre is less relevant to such viral videos.

A lot of user generated content appeals to the masses. Genre is relevant in mainly targeting select groups of audiences. Unless a media artefact is created with the sole design of targeting an audience (for promotional purposes, profit or otherwise), genre is not so important. A lot of user generated content is put up because people have access to the internet, and nothing else. Equals Three reviews viral adverts, and can appeal to anyone above a certain age. Jon LaJoie also has a general audience above a certain age. The Annoying Orange doesn’t really target anyone in particular either – they’re just there for the taking. They all have comedy elements however – very little user generated content is serious (probably because of the low production values – comedy is cheap providing you have wit). The lack of serious production could affect why genre is lacking in these artefacts.

2.

The types of cultural production that are most reliant on genre are the ones that involve the most capital. Cinemas rely heavily on genre to target audiences, as do television shows and dramas. Video games also target specific niche markets of gamers, depending on the content. Music has it’s own genres. But again, the artefacts without target audiences are the ones least reliant on genre. Genre can be used via props, or via conventions. Props and conventions cost money to construct, which is why official broadcasters use genres more than user generated content does.

In terms of Formats, genre is important for highlighting target audiences for your show. We are creating quiz shows, that have a general audience, and that is reliant on humour, much in the same way as youtube viral videos. When targeting general audiences, comedy is always a good thing to use, as it’s cheap. It’s interesting to know that most quiz shows originated on the radio, and usually involved comedy and wit of some sort, because that’s cheap to make (which is desirable on pilot runs with no guarantee of success). Effectively, user-generated content will be at that level for a long time, cheap, cheerful, and reliant on humour.

The interesting part will happen when user-generated content starts becoming a viable source of income. As the money in that area of the industry goes up, so will production values. When things such as props can be afforded in user-generated media, genre will start to become more relevant. This ties in wth my prediction of an outbreak of ‘pirate media’, that will possibly occur within the next ten years. If user-generated media goes ‘professional’ (as it has already started doing), official broadcasters will have serious problems in the upcoming decades.

3.

As aforementioned, genre will not help us to understand online productions, unless they are designed to target audiences, or do that with which the idea of genre is imposed. Theodor Adorno mentioned the idea of the ‘authentic’, which is quite relevant to this topic.

Some may say that user-generated online media are nowadays more authentic than that of official broadcasters and publishers. Films and TV series are all about ‘representation’ through the media channels, with purposes to inform, or entertain. Formats and genres are used to allow audiences to identify with the material, but in using these, ‘authenticity’ is lost – the artefacts take a certain stance on a topic, or portray a certain point of view.

Online videos are uploaded perhaps to entertain, or perhaps to inform. ‘Two O Clock Reviews’ is a series in which people are interviewed at 2:00am, having just watched the late night premiers of the latest films. Those artefacts are to inform. The Escapist reviews games, and thus has a target audience there, but is not particularly part of any genre. As mentioned above, comedy and the purpose of entertainment always seems to be the driving force behind what gets uploaded to the internet. Battle At Kruger is not particularly comedic in nature, but it is entertaining.

One thing that is differentiating the authentic with the mainstream, besides production values, are timelines. Very little user-generated content lasts beyond fifteen minutes, whether it be reviews, films, or shows. Roughly six minutes is the average I deduce. This suggests that internet entertainment is more relevant to office hours than TV is. During the day, in lunch breaks, people tune in to their favourite internet shows, but by night, they want something ore substantial, and this tune in to the BBC or ITV. It is only a matter of time before the internet starts making better shows – people from all over the world need to get organised to make shows that rival those of the BBC, but I’m sure they’re out there.

Thus, to conclude, we can say that genre does not apply to online media yet. Online media holds a variety of things, from the controversial to the innocent. They may all be to entertain, but they are not aimed at any particular audience, and thus do not need to fit into a genre. This can account for the really random things one might find on the internet. Perhaps eventually people will start making big bucks by creating formats online. PERHAPS my prediction of Pirate TV and Pirate Radio through ‘pirate satellites’ on the internet will come true. The internet opens everyone up to all and sundry, and where there is cash to be made, people will do it. Genre is crucial to identifying target audiences, so once money is thrown into the mix, maybe one day genre will be more relevant to online medias.

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The ‘Demo-Lition’ Protest March Documentary (+260MC Week 2 Questions)

Posted in University Work (Old) with tags , , , on October 24, 2010 by Adam Broome

I have been planning over the last week to produce a media artefact around the student protest march up ahead, taking place on November 10th in London against proposals to lift the cap on tuition fees. The artefact would be a documentary, interviewing students at Coventry University, and possibly some of the lecturers as well, so each side can voice their thoughts.

For 260MC, this week we have also been set a task similar in vein. This week involved us producing a media artefact which involved doing an off-the-wall style interview, and then contemplate creating something that was more personal to us. Now, although politics have never truly been my forte, I do believe that raising tuition fees to £7.5k a year is a bad thing, and that’s why I am doing the documentary, to report, and also to further understand, the incident. I was doing it for portfolio, and also for me own private interest, but since this module seems to be asking for something of the like, I shall use this future project as a basis for this week’s work.

The interview produced earlier in the week was about the misrepresentation of media students. Coincidentally, this is actually a relevant artefact, as the protest march will be directly linked to how students represent themselves as a collective. It is all in future terms – on the day of the march, anything could really happen. Misrepresentation is clearly the word at the heart of the protest – perhaps students are seen as being alcoholics, and young people who use taxpayer’s money to stay out of work for as long as they can. Incidents such as this didn’t help:

Indeed, from my own experience, drinking seems synonymous with student culture nowadays. When at college, I had the naive notion that university could have been boring, surrounded by intelligent people that made me feel like an idiot, and unintentionally made me feel small. This was not the case, which is perhaps a good thing – I am not the brain of Britain, but I like to think that with 300 UCAS points, I earned my right to have a place at university.

This is where I shall insert a side-argument – are the exams getting easier? GCSE and A-Level results continuously get better with each passing year. I remember feeling quite happy when I heard that my year were the most academically successful thus far. But now, such results are almost expected. Was a B, a B and C at A-Level really a true test of my intelligence? Are people who should not be deemed ‘worthy’ of university being let in? Crucially – are these people the students who have the least amount of money?

I was born on what was effectively a council estate. Little by little, me and my mum eventually managed to migrate to a middle-class suburbia around the corner. Through personal reasons, I came to have a little money to my name. Had I not got that money, could I have come to university? The first thing every MP seems to jump to is the Student Loans Company. It is a business so inundated with applicants that it’s system crumbles almost every year under the strain. I am eligible for ‘maximum everything’ because my household income is so low. Yet, even this year, my halls of residence ask for the money up front, otherwise they deny you accommodation. Money to the tune of £1,500, before the loans have even gone through. Then there’s the trips, and social events. If you really want the best out of the university experience, you need to have some money stored somewhere to fall back on when you need it.

So, why raise tuition fees? To stop the poor students getting in – stereotypically the lesser intelligent of the social ladder? Is it to make the cutbacks, which our PM seems to be promoting – stop students using the SLC so the government doesn’t have the lend so much money to so many people. Is it a case of making the education system look more competent? Being able to say that not just anybody can go to university anymore. Restrict it to the privileged. It has taken many years for the education system to get to where it has, and these proposals will be a backward step – but for better, or for worse?

In relation to the questions, the media certainly represents students in a bad light. We are always in the spotlight for drinking, partying, and generally doing anything except studying. Of course, this is not wholly the case – yet I can testify that there are small truths to the stereotypes. Next week there’ll be a ‘Carnage’ night taking place, one such event which the above student was taking part in. It caused a media storm of outrage, and according to my mum, students were never seen in the same way again. In other words, all respect for us was lost from that point onwards.

Lest not we forget people were paid to go to university not so long ago, until we were accused of ‘dossing’ and abusing the system, at which point they implemented the tuition fees once more. Currently at approximately £3,500 a year on loan, the proposals will add another £4,000 to the sum, increasing debt by double, but reducing the number of students by half. On the surface it seems illogical – in terms of money, half the students paying double the money gives no financial gain to a government that claims the education cuts have been purely economical.

These matters are largely seen through the eyes of the government and the public, which appear to be the two main driving factions behind the media of today. I find that since neither are being directly affected, it seems to make much more sense to interview those who are – the students who may pay more, and the lecturers who may benefit.

I am choosing to do a documentary on this, although much as we have been exploring this week, there are a variety of ways I can conduct my report on the event. I will, as always, make it as interesting as possible. I plan to interview students before the events, and then take footage of the march from within the march itself. ‘Vox Pops’ style footage may be taken during the march with fellow campaigners. This documentary will also serve to tell my story of the event, and what the day actually entailed (including the journey there, and the return journey). Interviews with the public may be beneficial, as would footage of any political speeches. Generally, I’ll take footage of as many different things as I can, and mix them the way that looks right in the editing suite.