My project took a 1964 family movie, Mary Poppins, and twisted it into a trailer for a horror film. The process of remixing genres has taught me a lot about how each genre sticks to a specific kind of template in order to generate their tone. Additionally, I developed great respect for editors, as they hold a large portion of the responsibility for how a piece of media will be understood. Finally, it was most fascinating to explore how material can be manipulated to convey a meaning drastically different from its intended use.
While this project has been a lighthearted play on bending genres in unexpected ways, it brings about the serious cause that Brett Gaylor discusses in his movie Rip!: A Remix Manifesto. He reads his manifesto as: 1. Culture always builds on the past 2. The past always tries to control the future 3. Our future is becoming less free 4. To build free societies you must limit the control of the past. His argument is that culture builds off the progress made by culture before it, and when that ability to do so is inhibited, the past puts a limit on the progress of the future. He warns of the dangers to creativity and the development of culture that come from copyright laws today, and advocates for the free flow of media. In the case of my project, the movie I used to remake into a horror trailer was copyrighted and not available for legal remixing, an example of the past controlling the future. While the production of my video may seem like a silly pastime for entertainment, the concept of exploring genre could be an essential practice for those going into filmmaking and editing, and the laws surrounding the rights to most movies would not allow for this.
According to Herman Gray, the 1980s changed the discourse for blackness in America, one that stigmatized African Americans, creating negative stereotypes for black skin. Gray says that blackness became synonymous with irresponsibility, menace to society, criminality, instability, drug usage, and teen pregnancies, the antithesis to normative whiteness. In response to the negative images on blackness, The Cosby Show worked to oppose negative negotiations of blackness by presenting a well-to-do family that viewers of all backgrounds could relate to. When The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air debuts in 1990, we are presented with two black male main characters: Carlton who is similar to the characters shown on the Cosby’s, meaning that he is the representative of the upper-class black identity ( assimilation), and Will, who serves as the representation of authentic (inner-city) blackness (separate but equal). The relationship between these two black characters, is a great example of assimilation and separate but equal being portrayed throughout the show because it shows the cultural difference between a upper-class life and a inner-city life. The clip below is from the episode mistaken identity where Will and Carlton are arrested after being mistaken as carjackers.
The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air is a sitcom about a young kid from West Philadelphia who gets in trouble with the law one day while playing basketball. His mother wants to get him out of Philadelphia so she decides to send him to his aunt and uncles house. They live in Bel Air. Los Angeles. This neighborhood and very rich and it is suburban as it gets. Will is coming from a ghetto neighborhood and he is being placed into a nice and rich neighborhood. The show’s theme song is important because Will Smith raps about the situation that causes the move to Bel-Air. Analyzing these lyrics, I notice that Will is setting up viewers for a show that will deal with differences, and learning how to adjust in an unfamiliar setting. Also, Will is confused that his mom would send him to a “uppity” and “bourgeois” household, and wonders how he will adjust in this new environment. The last line, “I hope they’re prepared for the Prince of Bel-Air,” sets the tone for the series, as it reveals that Will’s arrival will have a significant impact on everyone in the Banks’ household.
In the first episode of the series Will does not know what to think of his new home. He is amazed by how lavish and big the estate is. This is a new experience for him because he has the luxury of using the house butler and living in a luxurious home. Uncle Phil and Aunt Vivian have three kids Carlton, Hilary, and Ashley. All of these kids are spoiled because that is how they were raised. Will is the complete opposite. Their personalities and habits usually clash throughout the series because Will was raised differently than the other three children.
The family depicted in this show is apart of the “High Class”. This is very unusual for a black family to be this wealthy. This is an example of assimilation . The assimilation trope means that blackness, or cultural distinction, is virtually invisible. The black individual is blended into the majority white group. It hides and distorts how most African-Americans live. In some Black family sitcoms, they are being portrayed as being wealthy. The Banks family is integrated into the show without any traces of social struggle or tension. The clip below shows the beginning of the “Pilot Episode”. Will is greeted by the Banks’ black British butler, Geoffrey, who is dressed in a tailored black tuxedo and well-polished black shoes. Also, it is evident that Uncle Phil is unhappy with the way Will has presented himself, and he is quick to critique Will’s dress and language. This is an example of assimilation because their is no indication of how the Banks family became rich. Also, Uncle Phil and Geoffrey are both judgmental of Will and their personalities clash.
The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air, while similar to The Cosby Show in its interpretation of an upper-class African-American family, differs mainly because of the character of Will Smith, whose welcoming into the household challenged the Banks’ black wealthy identity and also challenges assimilation. This class division creates separation between blacks from the inner-city and blacks that have had the opportunity to climb the socio-economic ladder. Will brings his inner-city background into his new black wealthy family which creates a ” separate but equal” approach. Separate but equal means that the character maintains his or her cultural characteristics but is represented in similar or equal ways. The below is a perfect example of this, Will has been forced by Uncle Phil to interview to get into Princeton but he doesn’t let that stop him from being Will from West Philadelphia, he “swags out” his school uniform, wears a ball cap backwards, and is very informal with the interviewer in a situation where most people wouldn’t be. But that is what makes Fresh Prince so unique it sheds light on cultural differences instead of trying to hide them which is how blackness was portrayed on TV in the 1980’s according to Herman Grey.
Television fans are not complicated creatures. It is no mystery that if people are entertained by something, they tend to engage with it. In the age of the Convergence Era, this phenomenon proves to be true more than ever. After all, entertainment is now as simple as a click of a button—a button that can be anywhere at any time. Suzanna Scott reiterates this point in her article, “Battlestar Galactica: Fans and Ancillary Content,” by exploring the growing relationship between television fans and what she describes as “ancillary content.” According to Scott, ancillary content can be found on a television series’ website in the form of webisodes, webcomics, episodic podcasts, blogs/vlogs, alternate reality games (ARGs), and more (321). For the sake of Scott’s argument, she focuses on a series of episodic podcasts that were recorded by Ronald D. Moore, creator and executive producer of Battlestar Galactica, while it was still on the air. These weekly podcasts helped fill in the missing information between episodes that would otherwise leave viewers to “debate potential answers and scribble in the textual gaps and margins to create and circulate answers of their own.” (321) Not to mention, the podcasts also served as Moore’s way of providing context and justification for narrative decisions.
While these functions may sound beneficial to the Battlestar Galactica fan-base, Scott claims otherwise in her article. Rather than innocently providing entertainment to fans, Scott views the increase of producer and creator podcasts as the television industry’s attempt to “maintain interpretive power.” (321) In other words, she is arguing that ancillary content does not allow for audiences to develop their own fan texts before a show’s creators fill in the narrative gaps and ambiguities for them. This could be viewed as what Scott refers to as “ideological control,” because the producers and creators decide what the “intended” and “preferred” interpretations of the text should be. As a result, Scott claims that this shrinks the amount of creative opportunity available for fans, even if the content is inspirational.
In addition to decreasing creative opportunity, Scott also argues that ancillary content facilitates more of a monologic than dialogic relationship with fans. In other words, while audiences may be able to talk back to their television screen online, the conversation is not a back-and-forth dialogue.
I do not doubt the validity of Scott’s arguments when it comes to the ancillary content associated with Battlestar Galactica. However, it is worth exploring whether or not her claims apply when it comes to a different television series. Considering the vast amount of ancillary content associated with the television show This Is Us, it makes for a worth-while comparison in terms of producer and fan-base relations.
Unlike the science fiction media franchise that is Battlestar Galactica, NBC’s This Is Us is a comedy-drama television series. On September 20, 2016, the day of its premiere, the world was introduced to the Pearson family: Jack, Rebecca, Randall, Kate, and Kevin. Throughout its now three seasons of being on the air, the audience has been through a great deal of experiences with the previously mentioned characters of the show. For starters, the adoption of Randall after his birthfather left him at a fire station, the development of Jack and Rebecca’s relationship, and the realistic hardships that seem inevitable for this Philadelphia family. Unlike most shows, This Is Us does not tell its story in chronological order. Instead, the story is told with the help of multiple flashbacks that depict the Pearson’s past and present experiences. This always makes for entertaining episodes that play out the life of a family that may be unique but, nonetheless, manages to be relatable to each of its 10.3 million viewers (Jefferson n.pag.).
Of the 10.3 million viewers that tune in to watch This Is Us every week, 105k of them are subscribed to the “This Is Us: Aftershow” on YouTube. Much like Battlestar Galactica’s producer-made podcast, the Aftershow is hosted by Executive Producer, Isaac Aptaker, and Co-Producer, Kay Oyegun. However, being hosted by producers is not the only similarity between the two podcast-like creations. Both offer commentary, context, and predictions from the producers episodically. An example of this dialogue can be viewed in the video below, titled “Aftershow: Season 3 Episode 18 – This Is Us.”
Just below the video, notable fan-comments can be found:
All of the comments above have one thing in common: fans are trying to fill in the gaps of the storyline and they are making predictions for future episodes. However, according to Scott’s study of Battlestar Galactica’s ancillary content, the ability for fans to make these kinds of comments is difficult because a show’s creators fill in the narrative gaps and ambiguities for them. While this might apply to fans of Battlestar Galactica, it appears that the This Is Us producers leave room for mystery, even when utilizing ancillary content. Ultimately, this seems to leave the fans feeling satisfied, especially when looking at some of the other comments left below the video:
In addition to subscribing to the Aftershow, fans have the liberty to follow This Is Us on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. From the looks of it, many fans act on this opportunity, with 3.9 million followers on Facebook, 412k followers on Twitter, and 1.3 million followers on Instagram.
Needless to say, this further suggests that This Is Us has an incredibly strong fan-base across all platforms. While this could and should be viewed as the television industry’s way of furthering their agenda to keep creative power in their own hands, I still think it allows for more of a dialogic relationship than Scott could have predicted. This could easily be attributed to the fact that social media was not as developed at the time of her analysis. Now, social media gives fans the opportunity to interact with and respond to producers of their favorite shows, even if a back-and-forth conversation is only an illusion to make fans feel as if their voices are being heard. Take this interaction on Twitter, for example:
I would also argue that even if there is a strong power-dynamic between the television industry and fans, not all creative opportunity for fans is lost. This is especially evident when viewing the vast amount of fan-made content on the Internet.
For example, there are six podcasts created by fans alone, one of which is shown below, titled “This Is Us Podcast with Kei & Clyde.”
Furthering this point, the website “Vulture” has an entire webpage dedicated to a This Is Us blog.
Among other fan-made content consists of social media pages, like the ones pictured below.
After reading about Scott’s analysis, viewing This Is Us ancillary content, and analyzing This Is Us fan-made content, I have come to a final conclusion. My conclusion is as follows: Scott was correct to claim that producers create ancillary content as means of maintaining power in the television industry. However, it does not hold true that this always takes away interpretive power and creativity for all fan-bases. This is demonstrated perfectly in my analysis of ancillary content associated with This Is Us. While producers are creating ancillary content for fans, its point is not to interpret the show for them. Instead, it appears that the This Is Us producers participate in its creation to keep fans connected and engaged in their community. Therefore, the This Is Us fan-base is tightly bonded not only because of their love for the show, but because of their trust in the producers to value them as fans. While the end goal here is still money and power, it is accomplished in two different ways (i.e. filling in gaps for fans vs. leaving room for questions). Not to mention, the Internet still allows for a great amount of creativity from fans that wish to express their thoughts about shows in the form of social media posts, art, writing, or otherwise.
While it might not be a surprise that the power of the television industry is alive and well today, it is worth noting that ancillary content does not necessarily have to affect the interpretive and creative power of fans, especially when it comes to This Is Us.
Since early television and other sources of media have become popular, gender roles have been depicted. The Broadcast Era of television began in the 1940s and ran until the 1980s. During this era women were typically housewives who stayed at home and did all of the childrearing, cleaning and cooking. Most of them did not get jobs or receive a college education. This continued through majority of this time period, although eventually women began to have different ideas about the typical role they played in society throughout this time period. This role that women assumed was depicted in the media created during that era. Some of the most famous shows that showed women in their housewife roles include “I Love Lucy”, “Leave it to Beaver”, and “The Dick Van Dyke Show”. Television scholars have written about how television impacted family life and family dynamics. One of the works we looked at in class, Television in the Family Circle, written by Lynn Spigel, discussed how the television changed how families interacted with each other as well as the overall societal impacts it had. One can look at shows created during this era through a feminist lens by examining character’s gender roles and the impact this had on women, as well as others watching. This can shed light on how the opinions of women’s roles, rights, and treatment were shaped. It can also be related back to how women are currently depicted in modern day television and show the transformation through the decades.
In Television in the Family Circle, Spigel writes about the role of television in the home and family as well as society. Her main claim is that television brought the family together and united them. The T.V. soon became the center of the American home. It replaced the fireplace and the piano. It brought all of the family together and made it possible to do something they all enjoyed at the same time. This was especially true because the Broadcast Era debuted T.V. shows that were family oriented. Spigel also discusses how this affected women. When the broadcast era began it was right after men returned home from the war. This caused a shift in societal roles and expectations. She says, “Women were given a highly constraining solution to the changing roles of gender and sexual identity. Although middle- and working-class women had been encouraged by popular media to enter traditionally male occupations during the war, they were now told to return to their homes where they could have babies and make color coordinated meals” (Spigel 41). This change in women’s’ roles in society eventually led to the baby boom and housewives. Due to this becoming many women’s reality it was soon depicted on television. It was also seen in almost every form of media/art. Writers began discussing women’s roles as well. In The Modern Woman: The Lost Sex by Marynia Farnham and Ferdinand Lundberg it claimed that “…the essential function of women was that of caretaker, mother, and sexual partner. Those women who took paid employment in the outside world would defy the biological order of things” (Spigel 42). This was portrayed again and again in media and specifically television. This can be seen in many Broadcast Era shows, but I specifically analyzed, “I Love Lucy”, “Leave it to Beaver”, and “The Dick Van Dyke Show”.
The show, “I Love Lucy”, first aired in 1951, it was about Lucy Ricardo who is married to Ricky Ricardo- a Cuban band player who is trying to make it in show business in New York. Lucy is a housewife, who eventually becomes a stay at home mom throughout the duration of the series. Their best friends are Ethel and Fred, who are also their landlords. Lucy and Ethel get into all kinds of trouble while their husbands are at work. Despite their husbands being typical 1950s men who believe a woman’s place in the house/kitchen the women defy their overbearing nature by constantly creating mischief. The show brings many gendered based issues to light through discussions and humorous depictions. For example, they have conservations all together about women’s rights, jobs, and many others. In the particular episode I chose to examine, “Job Switching” (season one, episode two), the men, Ricky and Fred, think that doing household chores, otherwise known as “women’s work”, is much easier than going out and earning a living. Lucy and Ethel think otherwise, they decide to switch roles for a week. Although it goes poorly for both parties it shows that women were beginning to think they were more than capable of doing what men do. It also provides a man’s perspective of women and their value and place in society.
The show, “Leave it to Beaver” was a classic American sitcom that first came to television in 1957. It was the definition of a wholesome family show. The dad, Mr. Cleaver, worked a 9 to 5 job and was always home for dinner. Mrs. Cleaver cleaned the house and cared for the two kids: Beaver (Beav) and Wally, and she looked good doing it too. She always wore dresses, heels and pearls. The episode always ended with the “problem” being resolved and the two children learning a valuable lesson. With the series depicting a classic American family in the late 50s and early 60s, it also reflected American ideals and values during this time period. The Cleaver family was a middle-class family with two kids, a nice but not over the top car and a suburban cookie cutter home complete with a yard. Mr. and Mrs. Cleaver tried to teach their children life lessons throughout the episodes equipped with humor the whole family could enjoy. In the episode I analyzed, Mr. Cleaver is grilling outside when he is approached by his son, Wally, who asks him why he does the outside cooking and his mom does the inside cooking. Mr. Cleaver projects his views that American men shared in this time period about the women’s place in the home as well as society. He is telling these opinions and ideals to his young son which can show how sexism spread to many generations. It also is on a television show that families typically watched together and therefore more young boys and girls not only grew up with these ideals in their own household, but they were further instilled through nearly every aspect of their life, including television.
Considered to be one of America’s classic television shows, “The Dick Van Dyke Show” debuted in 1961. It revolved around the lives of Rob and his wife Laura. Most of the episodes focus on problems at Rob’s job as television writer with his coworkers Buddy, Sally and Mel. The show also showed his family life with his wife and their kid, Ritchie. Typically, they overlapped in a comedic fashion. Laura stays at home with Ritchie and cooks and cleans. However, the episode I looked at does not necessarily focus on Laura’s role but instead his coworker, Sally. Sally works in an office as a secretary with all men, and therefore, she has fallen subject to being treated like one of the boys. Laura realizes this when she has Rob’s coworkers over for dinner and points out to her husband this is not how Sally should be treated. She says that she should not be called as “strong as a bull”, be invited to cigars and drinks in the den “with the boys” after dinner, be included in crude jokes, and overall treated like one of the boys. This illustrates that women were supposed to behave and be treated a particular way and everyone in society thought so. Throughout the dinner Laura kept trying to prove that Sally was like all females so her date would be swayed instead of the way the men were treating her. Laura tried to compliment how she dressed, that she was a good cook, etcetera. Laura thought it was odd in the beginning of the episode that Sally would be picking up her date instead of vice versa, this also shows the expectations for men and women during this time period. Women were supposed to be soft, gentle, good cooks, and be treated with care.
Television series from the Broadcast Era (1940s-1980s) show the gender roles of men and women and how women were portrayed and considered as nothing more than housewives in this period of time. This can be seen through some of America’s classic shows like, “I Love Lucy”, “Leave it to Beaver” and “The Dick Van Dyke Show”. Although they do not have the same exact concepts or themes, they all share the portrayal of women. Television scholars like Lynn Spigel discuss how this change in women’s purpose in society occurred and how it was developed in media and other forms of art. It also explains how sexism was spread to multiple generations not only because of ideals of their parents but it was further enforced by television and other forms of media. Thankfully overtime women’s role in society and portrayal in media has changed. Women now play strong, independent, fearless roles on television. They are of all different sexual orientations, economic classes, races, education levels and so on. However, we still have a lot of progress to make for women’s rights and imaging.
Cartoon is nowadays one of the most popular medias for children all over the world. Lot of successful Cartoons are created since 1920s. We have Mickey Mouse and Donald Duck, Tom and Jerry, Crayon Shin-chan. As we can see, those cartoonswhich was created by companies from different countries can also be really popular globally. It shows language is not a problem anymore for people to understand medias from other country. Most of Cartoons are really fun to watch, but are they actually educational or do they sometimes mislead children. Besides international cartoons, Chinese cartoons started to show up and develop since most of family had their own television. I would like to talk more about how those cartoons look like and how they might influence Chinese children.
2.Description of some famous Chinese cartoons
The very first one I am going to introduce is called Haier Brothers. It is about a intelligent old man create two people who are called Haier brother, and the purpose for creating them is to travel around the world and help local people with natural disaster. This series were created in 1995 which is one of the most successful cartoon in early period of Chinese cartoon development.
The second one is called Pleasant Sheep and Grey Wolf which I grew up with, This series basically talks about how a wolf is trying to kill sheep and eat them and how sheep use their brain to be alive. This series were created in 2005. Comparing with Haier Brother, its image quality was improved a lot and transition between one story to next one is also better.
The last I am going to talk about is Boonie Bears which was created in 2012. The story is about how forest ranger is trying to prevent people from cutting down trees. The image quality is almost the best in Chinese cartoons, and it is also what children nowadays prefer to watch.
3. Positive Influences of those cartoons
As we can see, creator always try to make their main plot be educational and simple. In Haier Brothers, children can learn a lot when Haier brothers are traveling the world such as local culture from different countries, what should we do when during earthquake and some knowledge of science and biology. In Pleasant Sheep and Grey Wolf, even though children can not study that much knowledge in Haier Brother, they are able to learn to consider what to do even in critical situation like how sleep react when they are caught by wolves. Also, never being a bad person is what this series told children. The principle Boonie Bears is trying to tell is more direct which is protecting our forest or our earth.
4.Potential misleading in those cartoons
It is true that the main plot is always good for children and education, but some of episodes in it are still controversial. The target audience of cartoons is certainly children who is just starting to know what this world looks like, and they are very easy to trust what others said or what showed in the television.
Here is an episode of Haier Brothers which illustrate the process of creating Haier Brothers, adult will absolutely not believe it, because they know how a person is born. However, for children who is watching this episode and they usually know nothing about how a person is born, it is really possible for them to trust it and think this is how people was created.
The other episode might mislead children is in Pleasant Sheep and Grey wolf. Grew wolf’ wife always punish him because of failure of catching sheep, and one of them is using a pan to hit his head, and he will be fine in a minute. I am not sure what might happen if children think it is true. They might do the same thing to their classmates, because they believe their classmates will be fine in a minute.
The most controversial part in Boonie Bears is there are too many impolite words like “stupid”. It is better than previous two, because most people notice that and lots of parents have reported it. Now, Boonie Bears finishes its revision.
In conclusion, quality of Chinese cartoons were usually very low comparing to other countries at first. After the appearance of Haier Brother, Chinese cartoon is getting better and better whatever in image quality or transition from stories to stories. Most of those successful cartoon are extremely educational for children in main plot. However, it is still not perfect, because some of episodes in series might mislead children which is not acceptable. If creator of cartoon can realize this can really be a problem and try to revise it, I believe Chinese cartoons can actually reach a new height.
Growing up I was always fascinated with TV shows and movies involving crime, violence and the likes. But it never occurred to me that television was not always this extreme. It led me to research just exactly how television as a media form has made the transition to being a medium filled with television series that not only focus on such mature topics but depicts them in mature graphic manners as well. A lot of leeway has been given to the present day context of television. But just how as a culture have we shifted to enjoying the violence on screen and has television gone too far? Starting off we must first delve into the broadcast era, a simpler time for television. Analyzing the roots will serve as a better understanding to how as a culture we currently live in a time of violence and gore.
Parental influence over television has been a long drawn out battle for years. When television entered the homes back in the late 50s, TV shows were geared towards family units. This is obviously a stark contrast from what we see today, but first let I shall lay out the foundation of “family friendly television. Family friendly television consisted of content dedicated to clean and wholesome imagery not used to offend. The early 50s and 60s consisted of content that provided shows with one-off episode plots. Majority of the shows were centered around comedy and provided an entertaining outlet for the whole family.
The 60s were a great time for the nuclear family. With classic shows such as Leave It to Beaver, Burns & Allen gracing the television airwaves, the 60s were an era of feel good thought provoking life lessons wrapped in a cheesy story line that still resonates with some viewers today.
The Cowboys are coming?
While majority of televisions didn’t enter the home until the 1950s, there was already a lot of discourse around the popular series The Lone Ranger. The Lone Ranger was a western styled show filled with comedy, action, shooting, and mischief, the core of all formulaic Westerns that we see today. During its run it was labeled “violent” because of its depiction of guns and discreet showcases of blood.
Another less talked about Western included The Rifleman. Set in the 1880s and aired during the late 1950s to early 60s, was a show about a civil war veteran and a widower. It followed the same Western formula of getting into situations and creating action to entertain viewers. An actor from its show was quoted stating “There was a lot of violence on The Rifleman. We once figured out that I killed on the average of two and a half people per show. That’s a lot of violence,” their violence was tame and boy were they in for a surprise….
The Death of Television Code
From 1952 to 1983 there was a set of ethical standards in place on what could and could not be shown on television. The classic 60s sitcom was the standard and anything else was shunned by parents who had their worries about their children being exposed to sex and violence. Many shows were starting to become permissive during the 70s and when the code was finally murdered in 1983, this introduced a new wave and in that wave was also… crime.
Television code was like:
The 80s and 90s brought along a new wave of content… crime shows! Crime shows were a hot commodity, with shows such as Hill Street Blues leading the pact, they delved into topics that consisted of the every day lives of normal people. The shows creator was quoted saying back in the day “Violence is alive and well on television” and he sure was right. With a string of other hit shows such as Miami Vice and HSB pioneering action packed intensity, violence was essential part to stories as they created a sense of realism that shows from the 60s lacked.
But Wait! There’s War…on violence in T.V.?
Shows like Hill Street Blues didn’t just happen overnight, in fact there was a huge ordeal over what could and couldn’t be shown on television. Television networks constricted the freedom of show creators and writers like Bocho. Behind the scenes was a stalemate of sorts between producers and broadcast execs. Television networks feared that these realistic crime dramas would push the envelope too much and shows had to go through an approval process.
Television Code: The solution
In 1993 TV Parental guidelines were set in place that labeled shows based on their content. This was a fascinating solution to work around appeasing parents, but also directors and producers who did not want their content restricted.
Next Stop: The Convergence Era!
The convergence era is a peculiar yet exciting time, Violence is booming. We’ve reached the cultural peaks of the zombie era with shows like The Walking Dead, and Game of Thrones creating an atmosphere all of its own regarding war, death, and gore.
The Walking Dead premiered in 2010, and since airing it has amassed a strong fan base of zombie lovers. People from all ages tune in each Sunday night to watch the gore fest commence as the characters battle zombies and human enemies. But the key word in this is all ages. Since TWD has become quite the phenomena maybe we’ve entered a new era of “family TV.” AMC, not being one of the “big 3” could be at an advantage. Since AMC is a payed cable network the content viewers receive has more leeway.
Just an Eye-dea
But is there such thing as going too far? TWD has had many blood bath moments but a pivotal one in the series history was the death of a beloved character. Many fans and critics alike were taken aback by the gruesome death of a character and even an actor on the show was left stating “I regret the manner in which it happened. We’ve been able to terrify people in film for 100 years without having to show an eyeball.”
Then we have the infamous Game of Thrones! Think of Lord of the Rings but amplify its blood and gore times 10. It is a show not for the faint of heart. 9 times out of 10 there’s going to be some blood drawn in an episode. But violence is a necessary tool to the overall plot. Set in medieval times the things depicted are not unheard of and should not be watered down to appease audiences and critics alike.
Crime is Sublime
We can’t rule out crime shows either, Hill Street Blues influenced an entire wave of crime shows. If it weren’t for HSB we may have never seen shows such as the CSI franchise, Law & Order, and Criminal Minds. Violence has become ingrained in TV culture and HSB helped to create that cultural foundation.
The Economics & Format:
This leaves me with the evolution of violence in T.V. When you have shows like The Walking Dead and Game of Thrones that are shown on AMC and HBO respectively, it gives way to artistic freedom. HBO is considered to be a premium cable channel.
What does the word premium entail?
The context of television has changed over the years. Networks were created that were not broadcast to the public like CBS, NBC, and ABC. Premium networks provide content outside of the public TV standards which is why shows such as Game of Thrones exist. The viewer has to pay a fee to subscribe to the content on their platform. This process does indeed work in theory, as time has progressed so has technology. A show like Game of Throne cost 10 million an episode to produce.
The excessive use of blood and gore cost a pretty penny and add that in with the advancement of special effects such as CGI dragons, elaborate costumes and set designs and a cast of main and recurring characters that culminates to a whopping 40+ TV shows such as GOT are an experience. An experience that TV execs believe you should be paying a little extra for.
The Culture of the Audience:
I guess all of this research answers my question that I set out to try and comprehend. Has violence in television entered an era of obsessive use and why has the audience allowed it? Throughout my research I’ve come up with the answer that violence is the necessary component that makes up the shows we know and love. If one was to minimize the violence, story lines may fall flat. All of this can be viewed from a cultural perspective that Newcomb and Hirsch speak about. The executives today are cultural interpreters that understand the audience and its market. Violence has always been in television, just the level of violence was not as advanced and the audience has always enjoyed it for the most part, especially considering the multitude of movies like Night of the Living Dead that birthed TV shows such as TWD. TV is just a more expansive outlet providing a variety of different takes on violence. The audience wants violence, and that’s not necessarily a bad thing at all.