Convergence Culture

Convergence Culture: Where Old and New Media Collide

Henry Jenkins
Copyright Date: 2006
Published by: NYU Press
Pages: 368
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  • Book Info
    Convergence Culture
    Book Description:

    Henry Jenkins at Authors@Google (video)Winner of the 2007 Society for Cinema and Media Studies Katherine Singer Kovacs Book Award2007 Choice Outstanding Academic Title Convergence Culture maps a new territory: where old and new media intersect, where grassroots and corporate media collide, where the power of the media producer and the power of the consumer interact in unpredictable ways.Henry Jenkins, one of America's most respected media analysts, delves beneath the new media hype to uncover the important cultural transformations that are taking place as media converge. He takes us into the secret world of Survivor Spoilers, where avid internet users pool their knowledge to unearth the show's secrets before they are revealed on the air. He introduces us to young Harry Potter fans who are writing their own Hogwarts tales while executives at Warner Brothers struggle for control of their franchise. He shows us how The Matrix has pushed transmedia storytelling to new levels, creating a fictional world where consumers track down bits of the story across multiple media channels.Jenkins argues that struggles over convergence will redefine the face of American popular culture. Industry leaders see opportunities to direct content across many channels to increase revenue and broaden markets. At the same time, consumers envision a liberated public sphere, free of network controls, in a decentralized media environment. Sometimes corporate and grassroots efforts reinforce each other, creating closer, more rewarding relations between media producers and consumers. Sometimes these two forces are at war.Jenkins provides a riveting introduction to the world where every story gets told and every brand gets sold across multiple media platforms. He explains the cultural shift that is occurring as consumers fight for control across disparate channels, changing the way we do business, elect our leaders, and educate our children.

    eISBN: 978-0-8147-4368-3
    Subjects: Sociology

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-vi)
  3. Acknowledgments
    (pp. vii-xii)
  4. Introduction: “Worship at the Altar of Convergence”: A New Paradigm for Understanding Media Change
    (pp. 1-24)

    The story circulated in the fall of 2001: Dino Ignacio, a Filipino-American high school student created a Photoshop collage ofSesame Street’s (1970) Bert interacting with terrorist leader Osama Bin Laden as part of a series of “Bert is Evil” images he posted on his homepage (fig. I.1). Others depicted Bert as a Klansman, cavorting with Adolph Hitler, dressed as the Unabomber, or having sex with Pamela Anderson. It was all in good fun.

    In the wake of September 11, a Bangladesh-based publisher scanned the Web for Bin Laden images to print on anti-American signs, posters, and T-shirts.Sesame Street...

  5. 1 Spoiling Survivor: The Anatomy of a Knowledge Community
    (pp. 25-58)

    Survivor(2004)—the astonishingly popular CBS show that started the reality television trend—does not just pit sixteen strangers against one another. Around each carefully crafted episode emerges another contest—a giant cat and mouse game that is played between the producers and the audience. Every week, the eagerly anticipated results are fodder for water cooler discussions and get reported as news, even on rival networks.Survivoris television for the Internet age—designed to be discussed, dissected, debated, predicted, and critiqued.

    TheSurvivorwinner is one of television’s most tightly guarded secrets. Executive producer Mark Burnett engages in disinformation...

  6. 2 Buying into American Idol: How We Are Being Sold on Reality Television
    (pp. 59-92)

    Who would have predicted that reality television series, such asSurvivor(2000) andAmerican Idol(2002), would turn out to be the first killer application of media convergence—the big new thing that demonstrated the power that lies at the intersection between old and new media? Initial experiments with interactive television in the mid-1990s were largely written off as failures. Most people didn’t want to stop watching television just to buy the clothes one of theFriends(1994) was wearing. Few were interested in trivia quizzes flashing up at the bottom of the screen during sportscasts or James Bond movies....

  7. 3 Searching for the Origami Unicorn: The Matrix and Transmedia Storytelling
    (pp. 93-130)

    In Peter Bagge’s irreverent “Get It?,” one of some twenty-five comic stories commissioned forThe Matrixhomepage, three buddies are exiting a theater where they have just seen the Wachowski brothers’ opus for the first time (fig. 3.1). For two of them,The Matrix(1999) has been a transforming experience:

    “Wow! That was Awesome!”

    The Matrixwas the best movie I’ve seen in ages!”

    The third is perplexed. From the looks on the faces of the prune-faced older couple walking in front of them, his confusion is not unique. “I didn’t understand a word of it!”

    “You mean you were...

  8. 4 Quentin Tarantino’s Star Wars? Grassroots Creativity Meets the Media Industry
    (pp. 131-168)

    Shooting in garages and basement rec rooms, rendering F/X on home computers, and ripping music from CDs and MP3 files, fans have created new versions of theStar Wars(1977) mythology. In the words ofStar Wars or Bustdirector Jason Wishnow, “This is the future of cinema—Star Warsis the catalyst.”¹

    The widespread circulation ofStar Wars–related commodities has placed resources into the hands of a generation of emerging filmmakers in their teens or early twenties. They grew up dressing as Darth Vader for Halloween, sleeping on Princess Leia sheets, battling with plastic light sabers, and playing...

  9. 5 Why Heather Can Write: Media Literacy and the Harry Potter Wars
    (pp. 169-205)

    So far, we have seen that corporate media increasingly recognizes the value, and the threat, posed by fan participation. Media producers and advertisers now speak about “emotional capital” or “lovemarks” to refer to the importance of audience investment and participation in media content. Storytellers now think about storytelling in terms of creating openings for consumer participation. At the same time, consumers are using new media technologies to engage with old media content, seeing the Internet as a vehicle for collective problem solving, public deliberation, and grassroots creativity. Indeed, we have suggested that it is the interplay—and tension—between the...

  10. 6 Photoshop for Democracy: The New Relationship between Politics and Popular Culture
    (pp. 206-239)

    In the spring of 2004, a short video, edited together out of footage from newscasts and Donald Trump’s hit TV show,The Apprentice(2004), was circulating across the Internet. Framed as a mock preview forThe Apprentice, the narrator explains, “George W. Bush is assigned the task of being president. He drives the economy into the ground, uses lies to justify war, spends way over budget, and almost gets away with it until the Donald finds out.” The video cuts to a boardroom, where Trump is demanding to know “who chose this stupid concept” and then firing Dubya. Trump’s disapproving...

  11. Conclusion: Democratizing Television? The Politics of Participation
    (pp. 240-260)

    In August 2005, former Democratic vice president Albert Gore helped to launch a new cable news network, Current. The network’s stated goal was to encourage the active participation of young people as citizen journalists; viewers were intended not simply to consume Current’s programming but also to participate in its production, selection, and distribution. As Gore explained at a press conference in late 2004, “We are about empowering this generation of young people in the 18-to-34 population to engage in a dialogue of democracy and to tell their stories of what’s going on in their lives, in the dominant medium of...

  12. Notes
    (pp. 261-278)
  13. Glossary
    (pp. 279-294)
  14. Index
    (pp. 295-307)
  15. About the Author
    (pp. 308-308)