teleontheinternet

Showcase Post #2 Transmedia and the Webisode

I’m a huge fan of “stealing” my television from the internet, its convenient, it’s add free, and I can stop/pause/rewind to watch again later, make TV snacks and pretend to do my homework. In saying that, I’ve never seen one of these so called webisodes in my life, which Max Dawson’s article encouraged me to believe were enjoyably efficient, and everything the youtube generation looks for in their viewing pleasure in a neat little package. This is a lie.

After some investigating I discovered several of the shows I like and am familiar with have their own little web spin off’s, there’s Jersey Sox for when I’m feeling trashy, Fang in there bro (which lost me after 15 seconds) and Skins minisodes. Great, it’s like Cadbury fun size chocolate bars, cheaper to produce, easy to digest, and none of the guilt that comes with the full size product.

With several small flaws for the television community, mostly centred around the legal ramifications of transposing television content to digital media, and shamelessly exploiting their script writers, it has one massive flaw for me: I am not entertained!

According to an industry journalist these digital shorts represent one of the prominent futures in our viewing experience, we can catch extra glimpses of our favourite characters, buy the Grey’s anatomy starter pack off iTunes and catch up on seven seasons worth of plot points in under five minutes, that promise to be “a marvel of efficiency” not a waste of our time.

I had my reservations, but I sat down with an open mind to watch little tanned sock puppets, and Nick buy drugs for some kind of anal recreational debauchery anyway. Jersey Sox was vaguely amusing in an only half watching kind of way, but Skins, well, I don’t really know what to say. Thanks a bunch, that’s eight minutes of my life I can never get back.

Dawson tells me that “clips from Saturday Night Live and Family Guy consistently rank amongst the most watched videos, in many cases outperforming full length episodes of the same programs” (‘Televisions Aesthetic of efficiency’ pg 3) on the commercial content aggregation website Hulu.

After my foray into the world of webisodes I can honestly say I have no idea why that is, and I doubt it has anything thing to do with the legality of pilfering a full length episode, we the youtube generation don’t have a digital conscience.

What we do enjoy however are transmedia trends, an app to go with a game that goes with a film that goes with a book etc. and webisodes are involved in creating the same kind of hyperdiegesis, extending the story world of the actual program into “a vast and detailed narrative space ,” (pg 2 Lecture Notes Matt Hills). Transmedia can potentially offer the audience more information about their favourite characters, and in the case of the skins webisode an insight into an avererage day in the skins world. In short, for the fan who feels an emotional attachment to the characters or is just overly obsessed with the program it can enrich their viewing experience by providing more material to fuel their interaction with the program.

What it does not seem to do however is extend the actual story contained within the program, nor assert or resolve anything within it’s 8 minutes. It’s a completely different format to the original program, a tease in that it looks and sounds the same, but provides non of the satisfaction of plot, forcing the audience to tune in later for some real satisfaction.

It looks like a marketing ploy designed to encourage more people to watch the show, and Diane Robina from Camcast holds much the same opinion on the subject, stating in her article ‘What’s a webisode worth?’, “From a brand perspective…once you get them there you can figure out how to make money”. Kate Taylor from The Globe and Mail says in her article ‘In the expanding TV universe, webisodes look for a foothold’, that “the way to win an audience-and a share of ad revenues from sites such as YouTube-is to move some of the values of TV drama onto the we, using fully realized scripts and well-known actors to cut through the noise” what she fails to mention however is that most webisodes don’t function like that.

Material from the actual program is recycled and cut for these digital shorts in such quantities as to qualify it ‘promotional purposes’. It effectively equates to networks not being required to pay their writers anything for use of their material in the webisode, and if these small slices of television are in fact the future of the medium then it’s a bleak one for the people who crafted the dialogue, character, and story world of the shows we have come to love, not to mention obviously lacking some of the important qualities of TV drama we have come to associate with specific programs.

Maybe I’m just getting old and dull, hankering for the days of the VHS versus this aesthetic of efficiency, but if I’m watching something that claims to be a mini episode of one of my favourite shows, I expect a little more value for my time. Skins delivered what I can only describe as a brief snippet of what was clearly designed to be a component of a much larger narrative sequence, it offered no new insights into the characters (we already know you like drugs kids) and no conventional story construct to speak of, leaving me feeling unsatisfied and mystified over this webisode phenomenon, and able to conclude only that it was designed as an incentive to watch the full length program when it airs on TV, and create another source of revenue as a platform for advertising.

I’m sure these snippets of television have their place, but so far as I can tell it’s nothing more than a marketing ploy by a dying industry to jump on the latest trend before their ship sinks. Maybe I’m just being belligerent and narrow, but if I’m going to tune in to a Skins minisode I need a little somethin’ somethin’ for my time, and frankly if a drug deal by some quirky teenagers and a scummy looking hermit with a lollipop stuck to his shirt is all that they deliver, I’d rather go down to Footscray and watch a deal go down there, get some seriously good dumplings while I’m at it.

References:

Dawson, Max, ‘Television Aesthetics of efficiency’, Viewed 11th October 2012, http://bgock.com/maxdawson/research_files/Ch_10_Dawson_Revised_DUKE.pdf

Lecture notes, Week 4, ‘Transmedia Trends

Taylor, Kate, 2012, ‘in the expanding tv universe, webisodes look for a foothold’ The Globe and Mail, march 9th 2012 http://m.theglobeandmail.com/arts/television/in-the-expanding-tv-universe-webisodes-look-for-a-foothold/article552580/?service=mobile

Showcase Post #1 Narrative Complexity

 Television over the last decade has developed from a basic structure where the majority of the plot is resolved in an individual episode, where a TV show can be enjoyed as a singular entity that requires no prior audience knowledge, to the kind of high brow or quality television typified by HBO, where each individual episode has a distinctly narrative structure, and functions as part of a series. After 1990 television witnessed “the emergence of ‘must see TV’, shows that are not simply part of the traditional flow of television programming, but either through design or audience response, have become essential viewing” according to Mark Jancovich and James Lyons in their novel ‘Quality popular television’.

Growing up without a television I feel as though I’m at a distinct analytical disadvantage here. When my peers were watching the Simpson’s and Home & Away I was reading Narnia and Harry Potter. When the magical box finally appeared in my life I was utterly perplexed by these supposedly great shows my friends where devoted too. I expected them to function like a film or a book with a well developed narrative arc that spanned an entire season, subtle character revelations and slow development of relationships, not the farcical machinations of one dimensional bogan’s in Summer Bay.I prefered to frequent Blockbuster or the library, but then The O.C. came out (don’t judge me) and my entire outlook on television changed. Suddenly television wasn’t so drab and soapie, it became what Kristin Thompson describes in her book ‘Storytelling in cinema and television’, as a “large ensemble cast, a series memory, creation of a new genre through recombination of older ones, self-conciousness, and pronounced tendencies toward the controversial and the realistic”. From being a one dimensional and episodic plot on the small screen which I actively avoided, it became a weekly ritual every Monday for 20 weeks a year.

 

As cinema degenerated into rom coms so sickly sweet and subtle as a brick in the mid 2000′s, my snobbery and I were unable to go to a cinema multiplex without the overwhelming urge to cry in dismay, but television it seems, was there to pick up the slack.  According to Jason Mittel’s article “Many narratively complex programs are among the mediums biggest hits, suggesting that the market for complexity may be more valued on television than in film” and with shows like Game of Thrones, Breaking Bad, The Wire, and Deadwood monopolizing the media format right now, it would seem that television is catering for the audience that mainstream cinema abandoned.

Typical industry logic according to Mittel, asserted that prior to 1990 audiences lacked the consistency for a serialized narrative, but with the decline of three major networks in the U.S, and the financial state of channel 9 in Australia, an opportunity to cash in on a different kind of viewing experience the likes of which The Soprano’s, and Twin Peaks introduced to critical and cult acclaim arose for pay TV networks. It’s no longer economical viable to keep shows in syndication that have previously defined television viewing when such an obvious shift in taste has occurred towards programs comprising narrative complexity.

Despite the overall decline in television viewing on an actual television, a small but dedicated cult audience enjoyed by the likes of HBO is now a much safer investment, and it doesn’t hurt that their persistent appeal to intellectuals, the likes of whom would not tune in for gauche soap opera’s, has defined HBO as a brand from which we can expect finesse and refinement, earning them a monthly percentage of our income. And it must be working because quality television has prompted an unprecedented surge in fan interaction through online forums and discussion boards. At one point there was even a ‘Viewers for Quality Television’, an American based association who met to discuss exactly that, saying “a quality show is something we anticipate. It focuses more and explores characters; it enlightens, challenges, involves and confronts the viewers, it provokes thoughts”.

For someone who barely watched TV till they were sixteen, I’ve now become one of those people that hungers for the season return of Girls, and feels almost bereft in July when all my favourite programs conclude for the season. It’s a bleak television waste land until February, and I find myself trawling for hours in search of a downloadable version with functional subtitles of whatever’s on at the Nova. I could broaden my tastes to encompass programs a little more sitcom-ish and save myself a lot of pain, but after growing up on Veronica Mars and sitting on the edge of my seat for an entire season watching her discover who killed Lilly Kane, witnessing the steady development of her relationship with Duncan, and enjoying the thrill of the smaller cases my sleuthing hero solved in each episode, anything else just feels cheap.

Where other shows exist as a stand alone episode that doesn’t develop with the kind of narrative satisfaction we have come to so enjoy, HBO has created an entire virtual world for us to live in. The Soprano’s was set up as something of an homage to the prestige of gangster films, and marketed accordingly, setting a standard for HBO productions, which can now claim a plethora of video games, websites, webisodes, and even interactive discussions with a given programs writers and producers and their many fans. They have extended the flow beyond the one way viewing of traditional television by creating a platform for fan involvement, and with shows rich in complex plot and subtle character relationships, they’ve also given us plenty to interact with.

 

References:

Jancovich M., Lyons J. (2003), Quality popular television. Cult TV, the industry and fans, London: British Film Institute.

 Mittel, Jason, Narrative complexity, viewed 11th October 2012, https://docs.google.com/a/student.rmit.edu.au/viewerurl=http://justtv.files.wordpress.com/2010/12/mittell-narrative-complexity.pdf

 Thompson, Kristin, 2003 ‘Storytelling in cinema and television’ , Harvard University Press

Madness

As a general rule I don’t tend to make a habit of sitting through a program that I don’t enjoy, but for the purpose of this exercise I made an exception for the final episode of Mad Men season one. It almost goes without saying my time would have been better spent picking lint out of my belly button, or watching a program like Breaking Bad that doesn’t need to compensate for vacancy of plot or character depth with this increasingly suspicious narrative complexity.

I have come to understand narrative complexity over the course of this semester to be an alternative to the conventional structure of a program, and the lecture notes define it as“Rejecting the need for plot closure within every episode that typifies conventional episodic form, narrative complexity foregrounds ongoing stories across a range of genres”.

It’s a nice idea, and one that I could certainly apply to a handful of shows, but Man Men seemed to me to simply reject the need for plot, period. My limited exposure puts me at a distinct disadvantage to prove this particular point, but within the confines of one episode the only kind of plot resolution I was offered was Pete Campbell scoring his father in laws account for the agency in exchange for knocking up his wife, all against the stunningly put together picture perfect back drop of 1960’s America.

But that stunning set and immaculate costume artistry is pretty much all the episode had going for it, which on the one hand credits its narrative complexity in the consistency of said aesthetics being a distinctly auteurist quality. On the other it would seem to illustrate that all satisfying forms of plot can be foregone provided everyone looks good while they’re smoking amongst vintage fixtures.

The male characters held little interest for me, readily conforming to stereotypes of chauvinist workaholics, and the female characters weren’t much better. Betty Draper was perhaps the easiest to empathise with, which I have since learned contradicts a widely held opinion on the web at large that she is in fact the devil.

Her characters impetus appeared in all forms to concern communicating with her husband. She confided in her therapist her fears of his fidelity knowing Don was privy to their conversation, she consoled her friends outward expression of Betty’s own interior monologue, and finally she cried to her young friend over her pain. Despite her fragile demeanour I found her to be the only character who’s actions and desires were congruent and believable, that evolved logically from the events surrounding her.

Mad Men certainly has a reputation for this so called realism that seems to be expressed through total ellipses of plot and open ended events and relationships that never find a resolution, and that might do it for those people who find narrative complexity and hot people wandering aimlessly through sweet sets enough to entertain them for an hour, but please don’t ask me to remain amused in a program that has as much plot direction as a drunk toddler. It’s not high brow, it cannot hold a candle to things like Dexter or Breaking Bad, and putting them in the same category for the sake of this so called narrative complexity is just plain offensive.  

Thanks HBO

Television over the last decade has developed from a basic structure where the majority of the plot is resolved in an individual episode, where a TV show can be enjoyed as a singular entity that requires no prior audience knowledge, to the kind of high brow or quality television typified by HBO, where each individual episode has a distinctly narrative structure, and functions as part of a series.

Growing up without a television I feel as though I’m at a distinct analytical disadvantage here. When my peers were watching the Simpson’s and Home & Away I was reading Narnia and Harry Potter. When the magical box finally appeared in my life I was utterly perplexed by these supposedly great shows my friends where devoted too. I expected them to function like a film or a book with a well developed narrative arc that spanned an entire season, subtle character revelations and slow development of relationships, not the farcical machinations of one dimensional bogan’s in Summer Bay. I preferred to frequent Blockbuster or the library, But then The O.C. came out (don’t judge me) and my entire outlook on television changed.

As cinema degenerated into rom coms so sickly sweet and subtle as a brick in the mid 2000’s, my snobbery and I were unable to go to a cinema multiplex without the overwhelming urge to cry in dismay, but television it seems, was there to pick up the slack.  According to Jason Mittel’s article “Many narratively complex programs are among the mediums biggest hits, suggesting that the market for complexity may be more valued on television than in film” and with shows like Game of Thrones, Breaking Bad, The Wire, and Deadwood monopolizing the media format right now, it would seem that television is catering for the audience that mainstream cinema abandoned.

Typical industry logic according to Mittel, asserted that prior to 1990 audiences lacked the consistency for a serialized narrative, but with the decline of three major networks in the U.S, and the financial state of channel 9 in Australia, an opportunity to cash in on a different kind of viewing experience the likes of which The Soprano’s, and Twin Peaks introduced to critical and cult acclaim arose for pay TV networks. It’s no longer economical viable to keep shows in syndication that have previously defined television viewing when such an obvious shift in taste has occurred towards programs comprising narrative complexity. Despite the overall decline in television viewing on an actual television, a small but dedicated cult audience enjoyed by the likes of HBO is now a much safer investment, and it doesn’t hurt that their persistent appeal to intellectuals, the likes of whom would not tune in for gauche soap opera’s, has defined HBO as a brand from which we can expect finesse and refinement, earning them a monthly percentage of our income.

For someone who barely watched TV till they were sixteen, I’ve now become one of those people that hungers for the season return of Girls, and feels almost bereft in July when all my favorite programs conclude for the season. It’s a bleak television waste land until February, and I find myself trawling for hours in search of a downloadable version with functional subtitles of whatever’s on at the Nova. I could broaden my tastes to encompass programs a little more sitcom-ish and save myself a lot of pain, but after growing up on Veronica Mars and sitting on the edge of my seat for an entire season watching her discover who killed Lilly Kane, witnessing the steady development of her relationship with Duncan, and enjoying the thrill of the smaller cases my sleuthing hero solved in each episode, anything else just feels cheap.

Where other shows exist as a stand alone episode that doesn’t develop with the kind of narrative satisfaction we have come to so enjoy, HBO has created an entire virtual world for us to live in. The Soprano’s was set up as something of an homage to the prestige of gangster films, and marketed accordingly, setting a standard for HBO productions, which can now claim a plethora of video games, websites, webisodes, and even interactive discussions with a given programs writers and producers and their many fans. They have extended the flow beyond the one way viewing of traditional television by creating  a platform for fan involvement, and with shows rich in complex plot and subtle character relationships, they’ve also given us plenty to interact with. 

There’s no accounting for taste

After some extended procrastination where I artfully justified watching Game of Thrones re runs as “study” I forced myself to read Ginia Bellafante’s “review” of the series, and immediately wished I hadn’t. Aside from the fact that her polarized assault on the series does not qualify as a review in any capacity, who does this woman think she is too speak for every other woman alive?!

She describes the show as a “costume-drama sexual hopscotch” and I have to wonder if miss Bellafante actually bothered to watch the series at all. While I concede there’s a fair portion of screen time devoted to nookie in the forest, then a tent, with a fur cloak on, without a fur cloak on etc. it hardly makes up the majority, and while we’re on the subjective of horrendous sweeping generalizations, I can’t think of anyone who would bother to tune in for an hour to watch a show in a genre they didn’t like, following a plot that held no appeal, just to catch thirty seconds of Jason Momoa with his pants down. 

It was certainly amusing to read blogs from the likes of Geek Girl Diva as she slammed Bellafante’s ignorant sexist genre bashing, and her dead-pan reminder that many of us girls (not just the self confessed ‘Geek Girls”) are keen on this show “Not because of the sex, but because of the story, the intrigue, the swordplay and — oh yeah, I forgot — the fact that it’s based on books they’ve read”.

Some of the highest grossing authors on the NY Times best seller list are Sherrilyn Kenyon, J.R.Ward, and (groan) Stephanie Meyer, all female authors who write sexy fantasy fiction, and who are apparently quite popular among the female population of the world. Now what does that tell you about what women want from their entertainment? Aside from the obvious embarrassment for Miss Bellafante in failing to even use the research materials available in her own work place (dropped the ball on that one NY Times) it proves her accusations to be sexist and baseless. Gender and taste are not mutually inclusive concepts, as a girl who loves high heels and princess dresses I resent the inference that I can’t be kickass and wear a tiara.

“If you are nearly anyone else, you will hunger for HBO to get back to the business of languages for which we already have a dictionary.” No miss Bellafante, after that article, all I hunger for is you to take a job in the mail room and leave the journalistic pursuits to women who don’t make sport of pigeon holing their gender on account of their own personal tastes.

 

 

Aussie! Aussie! Aussie! Please God, no…..

Television viewing in Australia is pretty polarized, you switch on the box outside of the news hour and your almost guaranteed to be greeted by the sharp twang of a lilting American voice, or, if your lucky, the whiskey smooth tenor of some sexy Brit (okay, so probably it’s an old fat guy wandering about the moor’s with some other old fat guys) but outside of the periodic reality drama’s and the soul sucking plot lines of neighbors and Home and Away, our screen time is dominated by foreign television industry.

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Here we go you say, rip into another weeks topic why don’t you, tear into capitalist American why don’t you, sadly this is just not to be, much as I enjoy a good mud fight with uncle Sam, I’ve got to hand it to them when it comes to television. If my choices are Home and Away or Modern Family, or Neighbors and Friends, whichever option is not the bad Aussie soap will win, and I hate HATE Friends.

Maybe it’s about cultural imperialism, maybe America is just that cool with their subtle-as-a-brick advertising and ridiculously good looking people clad in said advertising, maybe we’re all being sucked in. Or maybe Australian TV is just not as good at delivering to our living room a poignant comedic experience, with a vaguely insightful plot and relatable characters on a Coca Cola brand platter.

There’s also (as usual) no discounting the internet in this discussion. Our lifestyle and our social status dictates what we like to watch on television, infinitely cooler, tiny versions of ourselves wandering around with friends who are more interesting than our own, doing way better stuff than going to uni and eating baked beans out of a can over the sink at 10 o’clock at night. The relevance of the internet being that we can plug in at any given point and find out what everyone else ate for dinner while we enjoyed our beans, and rank the ‘coolness’ of our own life on a world scale. The internet creates global trends, and a globalized culture, and while this doesn’t discount the locally produced television, it definitely creates a market for programs from places like England and America, who’s film and television industries are basically better funded than our own, and thus capable of producing pretty much whatever the studio exec’s like, to make programs that directly cater to whatever the latest fad happens to be, leaving nations like our own, and dismally funded organizations like Film Victoria (who just yanked five hundred thousand out of their television budget incidentally) in the dust.

To a degree it is perhaps just a symptom of the Americanization of everything from the dominance of the English language across the globe, fashion trends that purport belt’s as dresses, and dirty rap music, in fact, lets just blame it all on rock ‘n’ roll. America does everything with a bigger budget, a badder attitude, less clothes, more swearing, and cooler gadgets than us comparatively poor western TV plebeians, and frankly, it comes down to the fact that watching HBO’s buff studs in fur cloaks have sexual relations in various parts of middle earth is just a hell of a lot more interesting than 30 plus years of Alf Stewart croaking “ya flamin’ Galah” at various inanimate characters.

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A Mini Waste of Time

I’m a huge fan of “stealing” my television from the internet, its convenient, it’s add free, and I can stop/pause/rewind to watch again later, make TV snacks and pretend to do my homework. In saying that, I’ve never seen one of these so called webisodes in my life, which Max Dawson’s article encouraged me to believe were enjoyably efficient, and everything the youtube generation looks for for their viewing pleasure in a neat little package. This is a lie.

After some investigating I discovered several of the shows I like and am familiar with have their own little web spin off’s, there’s Jersey Sox for when I’m feeling trashy, Fang in there bro (which lost me after 15 seconds) and Skins minisodes. Great, it’s like Cadbury fun size chocolate bars, cheaper to produce, easy to digest, and none of the guilt that comes with the full size product.

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With several small flaws for the television community, mostly centred around the legal ramifications of transposing television content to digital media, and shamelessly exploiting their script writers, it has one massive flaw for me: I am not entertained!

According to an industry journalist these digital shorts represent one of the prominent futures in our viewing experience, we can catch extra glimpses of our favourite characters, buy the Grey’s anatomy starter pack off iTunes and catch up on seven seasons worth of plot points in under five minutes, that promise to be “a marvel of efficiency” not a waste of our time.

I had my reservations, but I sat down with an open mind to watch little tanned sock puppets, and Nick by drugs for some kind of anal recreational debauchery anyway. Jersey Sox was vaguely amusing in an only half watching kind of way, but Skins, well, I don’t really know what to say. Thanks a bunch, that’s eight minutes of my life I can never get back.

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Dawson tells me that “clips from Saturday Night Live and The Family Guy consistently rank amongst the most watched videos, in many cases outperforming full length episodes of the same programs” on the commercial content aggregation website Hulu. After my foray into the world of webisodes I can honestly say I have no idea why that is, and I doubt it has anything thing to do with the legality of pilfering a full length episode, we the youtube generation don’t have a digital conscience.

Maybe I’m just getting old and dull, hankering for the days of the VHS versus this aesthetic of efficiency, but if I’m watching something that claims to be a mini episode of one of my favourite shows, I expect a little more value for my time. Skins delivered what I can only describe as a brief snippet of what was clearly designed to be a component of a much larger narrative sequence, it offered no new insights into the characters (we already know you like drugs kids) and no conventional story construct of any kind, leaving me feeling unsatisfied and mystified over this webisode phenomenon, and able to conclude only that it was designed as an incentive to watch the full length program when it airs on TV.

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I’m sure these snippets of television have their place for people who haven’t yet mastered the art of illegal download, but so far as I can tell it’s nothing more than a marketing ploy by a dying industry to jump on the latest trend before their ship sinks. Maybe I’m just being belligerent and narrow, but if I’m going to tune in to a Skins minisode I need a little somethin’ somethin’ for my time, and frankly if a drug deal by some quirky teenagers and a scummy looking hermit with a lollipo stuck to his shirt is all that they deliver, I’d rather go down to Footscray and watch a deal go down there, get some seriously good dumplings too while I’m at it.  

We are NOT the nation when we watch Kochie and Mel

Waking up first thing in the morning is a painful experience. It’s too bright, I’m hungry, the toilet seat is cold, and all I really want is the sweet sweet embrace of a shower and some caffeine, not the saccharine sweetness of Mel and her doe eyed smile while Kochie proclaims how amazing the achievement of some sports person I’ve never heard of is, in a nasal twang that both gives me a headache and makes me loathe to admit I’m Australian anywhere else in the world. No. Nevertheless, and sort of against my will, those two pod people in their nuclear broadcast bubble have penetrated my mornings.

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“The Symbols and narratives of the nation can only resonate if they are admitted to the chamber of the home” according to Nikos Papastergiadis, and thus any national broadcast that resonates and represents a given faction within the country (and lets be honest, Kochie and Mel represent a very narrow family model) can create a sense of unity, “linking the national public into the private lives of it’s citizens, through the creation of both sacred and quotidian moments of national communion” according to Morley. 

I’m half Scottish, a quarter Welsh, an eighth Spanish and an eighth Irish, and none of my parents were born here, where am I represented in Australia’s National family? Where is my Lebanese boss, my Chinese colleague, my Aboriginal mechanic, my half and half Kiwi neighbor? According to Morley’s Interpretation of Lauren Berlant, “through the accident of birth within a particular set of geographical and political boundaries, the individual is transformed into the subject of a collectively held history” and while this may indeed be the case in terms of how we imbue value in a particular set of symbols as relevant to our national identity, it’s a lie to say that it transforms the individual into part of our collective history.

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And It’s not just Kochie and Mel, where are these mixed race people on  The Morning Show? We’re certainly not represented by Kylie Gillies and Larry Edmur, and I don’t see my Muslim friends represented by Dave Hughes, Carrie Bickmore, and Charlie Pickering on the 7PM Project. Mornings with Kerrie Anne, and the plethora of white Australian’s on Channel 9’s The Today Show can similarly take their narrow representation of our national identity and stick it.

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As much as I can appreciate Morley’s Concept of ‘The mediated nation as a symbolic home’ and see how it could contribute to a sense of community and national identity, so long as the shows geared towards creating this sense of national unity are cast to marginalize and ignore the mixed race people of this country, who now make up the majority of our citizens, then it is not the national culture, and will therefore not become a part of our everyday lives. We may be ‘national’ when we vote or watch the news, but we certainly are not the nation when we tune into shows like Kochie and Mel, who’s only representation is of a narrow, upper middle class conservative white Australia.

Regularly scheduled programming will not resume at 6PM…

Television didn’t have to become a broadcast medium, at its post WII inception it was simply convenient, but now it’s a dying format. Conceived as an extension of radio, it never projected the potential for film quality programs, rich with plot and characters, but that seems to be the direction in which our modern audience leans, and the invention of the internet means we have neither the time nor the need to wait for regularly scheduled programming.

A platform for discussion, and discursive in it’s content, with a lack of enforced political allegiance, downloadable television is a slap in the face to it’s capitalist creators, and regularly scheduled programing will choke the life out of television viewing if it does not adapt to give the people what they want. At this stage, what the public want from their television is an experience, if not as personal, then at least more simplistic than the lengths I sometimes find myself going to at 3 in the morning, desperate to watch the next episode of Game Of Thrones (read:Geordie Shore), or Girls, and get assaulted by links that amount to nothing more than false promises and eventual disappointment.

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Foxtel got in ahead of the trend in terms of adjusting scheduled programing, forecasting viewer demands, and I appreciate the option to enjoy Kim K’s booty at the click of a remote with my coffee in the morning and my easy mac snack at three AM as much as the next person, but so long as the internet makes it free, and some strange red bearded man tells me about lock in contracts and monthly fees after nearly bashing my door in at 9 AM, I’ll be sticking to my internet enabled TV kleptomania thanks.

Sure live events like the Olympics or that thing they do with the buff studs in short shorts and the pig skin will survive, but for those of us who don’t really identify with sporting events, that’s just another reason to leave the remote exactly where it is. For TV to survive the modern world, It will seriously need to lift it’s game, or be relegated to the kind of popularity radio enjoys, playing in the background of sports bars, or slowly driving you insane over 8 long hours as you ask every single customer if they’d like fries with that.

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The two highest ranking shows on Australian television right now are The Block and Australia’s got Talent, according to my lecture notes. I won’t claim to have superior taste in programs (to your face) but if those are my options, I think I’ll take the sport after all. My Nan and Pa watch the block…while they eat dinner off strange plastic trays and accuse their neighbours of suspicious behaviour, and maybe that’s television’s target audience, but I don’t see ANYONE gathered around the tube counting down the minutes till True Blood, Deadwood, or any other popular or critically acclaimed show, airs in Australia. They’re all to busy on their preferred torrent site or casing links months before the Australian premiere, and by the time HBO’s carrier pigeon has delivered our latest fix, everyone under thirty is up to episode 8 already!

Channel 9 are on the brink of financial ruin, and supposedly illegal sites like pirate bay host paid advertising for publicly listed corporations, so whether it’s pay TV or free to air, if they don’t get with the internet dictated program, they’ll just be fodder for another cheese-ball nostalgic pop song, which everyone will then steal of the internet.

The Past is Another Country

In 2001 my mum bought a large box home from one of her extended shopping trips to Chadstone. So filled with excitement and bubbling expectations, I almost forgot the extra hour I was left to wait outside school for her to get me, those bold black letters stamped on both sides of the package were a technological revelation waiting to happen in my living room!

I grew up in a house of books, and handmade toys and homegrown veggies and playing make believe till I was ten years old when the parental units eventually gave in. Within a matter of weeks I became a deviant, listening at doors, breaking curfews, running home from the bus stop just to steal a few minute with the magical box in the living room. I watched anything, ABC kiddie shows, the news, antiques roadshow, the sopranos, red dwarf, I was greedy for all of it. Then I discovered reality TV with the first influx of the big brother phenomenon, to say I was appalled is an understatement.

This was not any kind of drama I had seen before, It bore no resemblance to the witty, multi faceted characters I had come to associate with the shows my parents watched after my bed time, these people were argumentative, narrow, and insubstantial, and my delight over this television set business dissipated with every one that aired. Now that I’m older I’m also a hypocrite, I secretly watch Jersey Shore and Keeping Up with the Kardashian’s when I think no ones around, but they don’t have any place in a university degree.

Programs like damages, who used one of the most quirky flashback set ups I have seen in order to reveal a story, combined with detailed characters and actors who can produce a performance just as good, sometimes better, than those of their silver screen counterparts, have earned a position on our syllabus.

The invention of moving pictures led to a similar debate at conception, and now courses in film are offered at almost every reputable university across the world. By those same parameters and arguments, is Television not deserving of similar recognition? Those containing an interesting plot, with well conceived characters such as Girls, Game of Thrones,  and The Soprano’s have surely earned their place in a university context.

Television shows have had a certain stigma, being of lesser quality to feature films, but as a relatively unexplored medium that’s been similarly constructed for the better part of it’s existence, analyzing them in a University environment could promote more varied and quality programs.