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Blog Post #3

November 30, 2017

Audience Power:

On April Fools Day in 1976, a new film opened in New York City to audiences called the “The Rocky Horror Picture Show which was a low-budget film about a conservative suburban family stranded in a haunted house full of cross-dressing transvestites, aliens and a Frankenstein-style mad scientist. The movie got bad reviews and only got a sizable crowd in Los Angeles, bombing everywhere else. 20th Century Fox (the distributor of the film) decided to remove the film from theaters due to pressure as local theater exhibitors complained that only 50 of the available 800 seats were occupied.

What the movie theater owners failed to realize was that small group of 50 people who showed up would repeatedly come to watch the movie over and over. The dedicated core of regular viewers began dressing up as characters in the film, they would scream out the dialogue of the film (which they knew by heart) and a scholarly study found that two thirds of the people waiting in line to see the film had already seen it once. This film became a “cult” phenomenon grossing over $100 million so far. See how powerful an audience is? Had 20th Century Fox ignored the small loyal fan base and just payed attention to the overall audience; this movie would have flopped and they would have missed out on the potential to gross over $100 million.

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There’s been cases where a movie would flop at the box office, but they would make another film due to fan demanding another one and there’s been films that have flopped at the box office but still generate more than production cost once it’s out of the theater. An example is Shawshank Redemption, it flopped at the box office but due to its cult following it made way more money through video rentals when it came out as VHS. Another example is the 1999 film “Fight Club” the 63$ million dollar budget movie flopped at the box office but once it was released to DVD; it started getting a cult following and the film made over $100 million dollars, the perception of the movie went from bad to good.

Fan Culture/Fandom with the rise of the Internet:

Due to digitization, mass computerization and the rise of the internet, the ability for audiences to select, consume, and remix media content has become greater than ever. With social media and new online platforms this gives audiences easier access and new opportunities for audiences to contribute their own creative ideas into media text; with this new trend the distinction between audience and producers is changing. With the internet, it offers offers a place where individuals can actively engage in conversation and share ideas and thoughts and a prime example of that is blogs, forums, Facebook groups. In Chapter 8, Sullivan defines fans as “audiences who are deeply engaged in their favourite media texts. Fans often reinterpret media content and create their own cultural production in response (p.193).” We are all “fans” of something whether it be music, sports, entertainment, politics, brands. Fans are “enthusiasts for a particular television program, film, or other media event who invest a great deal of time and intellectual energy into media text. Fans would collect artifacts related to their favorite texts, sought out social connections with similarly minded individuals and even marked themselves as fans to outsiders.”

I’m a fan of basketball and specifically the Toronto Raptors, I follow many Raptors related forums/groups where I meet other like minded individuals who have the same taste as me; some fans I’ve met have paid ridiculous amounts of money for Raptors souvenir (like game worn jerseys, shoes even headbands) and some have tattoo’s or bumper stickers on their cars which show they are Raptor fans.

Fan culture is important and can’t be ignored by producers because without fans, producers wouldn’t be making any money. An example of fan culture is Comic Con it’s a movie and comic book convention that happens in different cities throughout the years; at Comic Con you see people dressed up whatever they are a fan of (Star Wars, Marvel, DC Comics, video game character related costumes)

Fandom culture has existed throughout time and due to the digital age and the introduction of new technologies in our world fandom culture as evolved/progressed, we can access and consume media at a speed never seen before. These new technologies not only help us consume more media at once but also it allows us to have easy access on topics we care about, along with the ability to share thoughts with others who share those same passions.

We have easier access to see what athletes, musicians, performers and artists are up to compared to previous generations because we are more connected than ever because of the internet. Many ordinary people who don’t have celebrity status have used online platforms like Vine, YouTube, Facebook, blogs to become internet sensations which is basically like a celebrity; some examples are Rebecca Black (Friday), Danielle Bregoli (Catch me outside) and many more; they all got popular because of the internet (social media, the ability to reach a large audience number). There’s too many internet sensations to name and they are all apart of different subcultures (music, dance, hobbies, internet challenges, genuine reactions, different phenomena’s). John Fiske noted that fandom is “associated with the cultural tastes of subordinated formations of the people, particularly those dis empowered by any combination of gender, age, class, and race” (Sullivan, 2013). Basically, these individuals have a cultural advantage by being from a certain lifestyle and culture which is why they become popular. I’m personally a fan of Nas Daily, he’s a video blogger who travels all over the world and he’d sum up all his adventures in 1 minute. Today he has 2.2 million followers on Facebook, even travel blogging is considered a subculture, it’s just people who video blog their travels and give advice of what to do and not to do at the place they are currently at. Everyday individuals have the ability to share their experience with a broad audience due to online platforms.

Fandom Groups/Nicknames:

A group was presenting in seminar and they touched on fandom culture and subculture and they had this group activity where we match the fandom nicknames to singers, music bands, films, television shows, books, games, sports teams, and celebrities. An example of fandom nicknames would be how Beyonce fans are called “BeyHive”, Harry Potter fans as “Potterheads” and Justin Bieber fans as “Beliebers”; fandom nicknames group fans to subcultures they are into. This is actually a 21st century phenomenon and the reason why is because fans are connected more than ever due to digitization

Whenever we encounter media texts, we are engaged with in a particular moment and space. Two factors come out from when we encounter media texts; how we receive those texts (ex. were we distracted or not while encountering the text) and how we interpret those texts. Media consumption always takes place within a particular physical context. Physical context meaning the atmosphere of where you are (you could be home alone with headphones, or in the living room watching with roommates) and how you interpret those texts depends on the factors (physical context; the atmosphere)

The “The Influences of Sports Viewing Conditions on Enjoyment from Watching Televised Sports: An Analysis of the FIFA World Cup Audiences in Theater vs. Home” article made me think of my experience of watching a game live vs. watching a game via television. When you are at a live game the atmosphere is different vs. the atmosphere of watching a game at home. In a live game; you’re actually there when the crowd is cheering, everyone is wearing jerseys supporting the team and the game experience is different vs watching a game at home; where factors like lighting, other people in your home affect the overall atmosphere which is why watching a game in a movie theatre actually closes the gap of watching a live game vs. on tv (via theater) due to image quality, atmosphere, sound quality. I remember watching a Raptors playoff game at the Brock Lofts (which has a movie theater inside), now I’m not gonna say it was close to watching a live game but it sure was better watching it via television. The screen was huge, the sound quality was amazing (the cheering felt more realistic through the theater sound vs. a television) and the other people in the theater were Raptor fans as well. The atmosphere in a theater felt more better for a live game vs. watching at home, my moms not into basketball nor does she care so she would walk in interrupt me whenever I’m watching a game at home, she’d tell me to turn the sound down, basically interrupt my watching experience whereas in a theater the atmosphere is different, if my mom told me that in a theater she’d probably have the people around me heckling her 😛

 

 

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Blog Post #1; Audiences, Advertising, Donald Trump

October 5, 2017

Joshua Nagenthiram 4959425

Audiences have existed since mankind has existed, back in the era where cavemen existed, they would gather around bonfires as a collective ritual to share stories, celebrate, inform, entertain

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Fast forward to a thousand…. maybe million years later we have Ancient Greek society where the concept of audiences was intertwined with the notion of the public and public spaces they did this with the Greek theater which provided entertainment to the public; this was used to control and appeal to lower social classes in order to gain and retain political process through democratic process. These events were collocated in time and space and that was the concept of audience, but as years passed by the concept changed……

Remember playing broken telephone in kindergarten?

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Where the teacher would have all the kids sitting close to each other and would relay a message to the first person and expect us to pass it on till the end, and every time the original message the teacher said and the end message the last kid receives aren’t the same?

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Well that’s how society worked for a long time, through word of mouth. Then words were created and used, literacy become a thing and books started to emerge. The book brought about the first separation between the originator of a message and the message receiver (p.11, Sullivan). The “act of reading” changed the audience experience and audience structure adding a different aspect to it, people were able to read texts in silence to themselves;

Media audiences has evolved with technological advancements like the internet being apart of our everyday life where social media, video streaming, live streaming are used by millions all over the world; you can be apart of an audience being alone in the comfort of your own home. Even when I’m sitting in a 3P18 lecture or seminar, I’m apart of an audience, when I’m on Twitter and Facebook, i’m apart of an audience. When you look at a billboard or a poster, you are apart of an audience. When….I think you get my point now. Even the concept of public sphere has evolved, before it was a table full of people discussing and now you can argue a Facebook chat group can be a modern day public sphere. Even the state of journalism is changing, we are moving from the print industry to the digital industry; it’s forcing journalism to change and adapt now. Now we can get live and updated news within seconds opposed to waiting 9am for the newspaper to be delivered to your front door.

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This is also causing a conflict between social norms and journalism norms because social media is breaking barriers between the journalist and audience now; we can now have access to a journalist’s personal life, have direct contact with him and this is causing conflict because before this wasn’t the case. Another issue is how a journalist’s personal interest and the company’s interest intertwine together. If the perception of the journalist is in a negative light then that will also apply to the company s/he works for. From the Double-Edged Sword article written by Jeyeon Lee; the study showed “the relationship between journalist perception and news perception in the professional dimension. The result indicated that professional-dimension journalist perception was a significant, positive predictor of professional-dimension news perception”. This is why companies have strict guidelines for journalists on how to use social media “that focus on preventing trash-talking and perceived conflicts of interest” because the audience’s perception of a journalist impacts the audience’s perception of the company. This is why you see companies fire media figures when they get involved in a scandal or anything public scandal related; an example is Justine Sacco, who was the senior director of communications at media company IAC she tweeted “Going to Africa. Hope I don’t get AIDS. Just kidding. I’m white!”. She tweeted this while on her way to Africa and turned her phone off, the whole time this spread all over social media and hurt her reputation, she ended up being fired from IAC shortly after because of her comments. Although it had nothing to do with her job, the perception that it gave to the audience forced her employer to let her go.

I find this course and the concept of looking into audiences interesting because it relates to my degree major (Business Communications) and down the line I want to have a career in the marketing field hopefully working for a big advertising agency. The main point of advertising is basically to reach out to an audience and grab their attention in any way, that’s why different styles of marketing exist and even that’s evolved with the concept of audience changing. In class the professor showed a commercial from Molson Canadian Beer. It had a large red fridge in the middle of the street and required people to say “I am Canadian” in different languages. I loved the concept because it engaged the audience who were there at the scene of the fridge as well as the other audience watching the commercial. It portrayed and signified on one of Canada’s biggest strengths, which is diversity and that we are all Canadian.anigif_enhanced-5698-1403542254-29

I liked how Molson Canadian appealed to the entire audience of Canada (every race, ethnicity) all while connecting them all as Canadian. Audience power is important because it’s why companies pay millions to advertise commercials that span from 15 seconds to 30 seconds to grab the attention of a mass audience, the example used in class was the 1984 “Macintosh” commercial by Apple that premiered at the superbowl (which has a large television audience every year). The commercial consisted of all these bland looking guys in a room staring at a TV where a cult leader is talking and then you see this lady wearing white and red  running from police and throwing the hammer at the TV. The commercial ends with the narrator’s saying “Then you see the saying you’ll see why 1984 won’t be like 1984”. The commercial was about introducing the Macintosh but it never mentioned the Macintosh or its specs, but the commercial was a huge hit and garnered interest from various media outlets which expanded to a bigger audience Apple intended to reach out to. I hope in a few years I can be a part of a successful campaign for a advertising agency.

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So…. 2017 has been an interesting year so far, hasn’t it? The previous host of celebrity apprentice is now President of the United States. He doesn’t really fit the “politician” label, but I guess that’s part of a reason he won. Many major media outlets predicted Hillary Clinton as the favorite and Donald Trump as the underdog

……boy were they wrong! But how did this happen?

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Wouldn’t this be a bad look for the media and somewhat undermine their credibility? They predicted an outcome and were wrong about it. How did the audience react to this? The media has power to  influence audience members perceptions, even if they haven’t researched the particular subject themselves. The agenda-setting theory tells us what to think, and the way we interpret the story allows each individual to come up with there own conclusion about the particular subject. The presidential race is a good example for agenda-setting theory because both left-wing and right-wing media outlets played a huge influence on the audience’s perception of Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton through framing. Framing occurs when journalists or media producers “select some aspects of a perceived reality and make them more salient in a communication text, in such a way as to promote a  particular problem definition, causal interpretation, moral evaluation and/or treatment recommendation” (Entman, 1993, p.52) (p71, Sullivan) . On one side you all you heard about was Hillary’s email scandal, pizzagate, and her health and on the other end you hear about Donald Trump his Russia scandal, hate speech, his association with white supremacists and his personal interests his corporate interests); one side was in favor of Donald Trump while the other side was in favor of Hillary Clinton, whether the accusations were true or not it definitely played a influence on the audience.

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Source credibility, or the degree to which a message receiver perceived the source of the message to be credited, emerged as a major factor in determining whether or not attitude change took place in the receiver (p.40. Sullivan). So how did the media get the presidential election prediction wrong? Maybe the people surveyed weren’t being completely honest? German scholar Elisabeth Neumann’s theory, the Spiral of Silence, claims that individuals naturally fear social isolation and will their own opinions if they are in the minority (p.71); that very well may have been a big factor here. I’ve seen articles of how people got fired from their jobs and ridiculed for showing their support for Trump; that backlash Trump supporters received made other secret supporters keep their opinions to themselves. Also the underdog effect was a factor here where the public shifts its support to a minority position or political candidate which was in this case Donald Trump; added with storylines about Hillary Clinton’s email scandal and her health that started gaining buzz. Another reason why the media got the prediction wrong is the issue of sampling error; they may have not taken into account that the electoral vote which has a major flaw; the winner of the popular vote can still lose which is what happened in this case. According to CNN Hillary “outpaced President-elect Donald Trump by almost 2.9 million votes, with 65,844,954 (48.2%) to his 62,979,879 (46.1%), according to revised and certified final election results from all 50 states and the District of Columbia”; so state overall votes counted more than individual votes here which is a conceptual error.

It’s really hard to pinpoint how Hillary lost but there’s many factors that came into play here and I’m sure the media has taken notice and learned from it. With social media and the internet the margin for error has to be minimal especially for the media who rely on credibility.

Even people who aren’t American are interested in American politics now (such as myself), a major part of it is because of the internet and how everyone has easy access to information. News can travel globally and reach an audience faster than ever. In 2017, everyone has social media; politicians, journalists, celebrities; they are able to use this platform however they feel they need to and they can directly reach an audience now without the need for a medium (the media). Donald Trump has a twitter account and he also has a “POTUS” account; one of them he’s professional and on the other it’s his personal account in which he says his views and opinions on things. I like that social media brings the audience close to the message sender; we can see his thoughts on everything and come to our own conclusions.

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Sources:

Media Audiences Textbook

http://www.cnn.com/2016/12/21/politics/donald-trump-hillary-clinton-popular-vote-final-count/index.html

The Double-Edged Sword: The Effects of Journalists’ Social Media Activities on Audience Perceptions of Journalists and Their News Products by Jayeon Lee

 

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