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Star War Exhibit

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Star Wars Exhibition Madrid by jorgeip

(1) How has technology change the division between folk culture and commercial or mass culture?

In the past, folk culture was appreciated among an intimate audience while mass culture was broadcasted to everyone. The division between the two was often defined by the access to resources or money. For example, a local artist couldn’t afford a huge marketing agency to pack a stadium but could gather locals to come see a show. In contrast, a production house might have a multi-million dollar budget and could afford to gather hundreds of thousands to see a show.

Technology has blurred the lines because the Internet allows people to personalize their experience or culture.  Today, a local artist can reach the same amount of individual as the production house because the person has more power to find work they like.  Technology has also allowed people to publish their creativity to sites viewed by millions without the cost of hiring a marketing agency. Now an artist’s creativity can genuinely gain them celebrity amongst the online community. Like folk culture, technology allows amateurs to explore and share their creations for the fun of it instead of for profit. As a result, commercial culture producers are now faced with an audience that has more power to create their own culture.

(2) How did Japanese media companies work with anime fans?

Japanese production houses did not try to strictly enforce usage rights but encouraged fans to share their ardor for anime. These media companies actively engaged the fan communities and set themselves as a moral standard. Some of the ventures led to the production houses actually hiring fans for their creative staff.  The fans and ingenuity created a demand within our market that couldn’t be ignored and led to the success of the Japanese animation industry in the U.S..  Their fans didn’t threaten Japanese media companies; they embraced their passion and used it to grow the anime community and their wallets.

(3) Jenkins goes on quite a bit about how Lucas and Lucas Arts have tried to deal with fan fiction. What have been the various ways they’ve tried to promote their StarWars franchises without losing control of the IP?

The StarWars franchise attempted to offer a safe place on the StarWars website for fans to share their material and form a community. Unfortunately, some fans had a problem because their work became the franchises intellectual property. The franchise also hosted competitions on partner sites and allowed people submit their own fan films with hopes of recognition from George Lucas himself. Lastly, the franchise actively engaged fan community sites and presented guidelines in which to create content reflecting the movie. In my opinion, the StarWars franchise was very reasonable in their request. Unfortunately, technology enabled some people to make fan films that weren’t PG-13. In the end, the franchise celebrated those fans that stayed true to the stories original intent without losing control over the brand.

Watch the videos and tell me whether you think the fan film helps or hurts the franchise and how. What are the dangers of letting fans make up their own StarWars-based stories?

After watching the Bounty Hunter film, I don’t think this particular fan film hurts Lucas Films in any way. I didn’t get a chance to watch the second portion because it was removed from YouTube due to copyright violations. Short films like Bounty Hunter allow fans to take characters from films and develop a unique storyline. A previous chapter of Convergence Culture sites a similar example in which children use action figures from movies to develop imaginary plots, which later influence a movie’s sequel (Jenkins, 2006). Franchises that observe these fan films can only gain a glimpse into better ways to market to their base.  One of the dangers of fan films like Bounty Hunter is that you have to be a fan to appreciate them. A new consumer may be deterred from seeing a movie if the story seem too complicated.

Reference:

Jenkins, H. (2006). Convergence culture. New York. New York University Press.

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One Comment

  1. Interesting comments. I have a badge on my blog for a service called eventful.com where independent artists can post they’re available to make an appearance and as fans click on the link, then the artist can arrange to make a local appearance once the numbers reach a point where it becomes profitable for them to do it. No PR firm, marketing firm, artist representative, lawyers, etc. to pay off to make an event happen. That’s the power of the Internet working for artists who would have previously been considered “folk artists.”


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