Media, Fans, & Participatory Culture: The Changing Landscape of Media Consumption

erotic-fiction-1422584338The Internet has changed the way in which we consume media in that it has created a space for an empowered, participatory audience. Media is no longer part of a simple input-output structure (i.e. create and consume), it’s now cyclical in that both sides are influenced by the other. As an audience and as media consumers, the web allows for participation: we can engage with our media, we can edit and alter our media, we can appropriate our media (i.e. turn it into something new or different), and we can provide impactful feedback that can even influence original media owners and creators to change their media artifacts.

There is also a burgeoning balance of power between fans and product owners due to this change. For instance many fans of popular shows, books, and comics engage in fanfiction communities, where they write, post, and engage in pseudo-original narratives based on actual original characters, stories, and entertainment media universes. (For example, someone might take the character of Jon Snow from HBO’s/George R. Martin’s Game of Thrones series and write a fanfiction story with him that strays from the actual narrative of the original series.) This both engages in the media that exists while creating something new that the fan becomes a very real part of.  Fans can also mash universes in crossover fanfiction (i.e. stories with characters from different universes, like having Arya Stark meet Captain America to battle Darth Vader).

This type of fan participation, however, also creates tension between the consumer and the creator, as it blurs the lines of ownership and spurs conversation on rights, legality, content ownership, boundaries, and to some degree ethics. Nonetheless, this sort of participation (a “participatory culture,” as described by Jenkins) is revolutionary for empowering fans and consumers to impact the media it consumes. This momentum can be seen a lot in the realm of TV series and comic books, where fans have shown the power to band together in order to bring certain characters or series back from the dead.


One thought on “Media, Fans, & Participatory Culture: The Changing Landscape of Media Consumption

  1. valerieclassblog May 3, 2015 / 2:01 pm

    Very nice read, Erica.

    I have seen a lot of mash ups with different cartoons, comics, and television shows that take these characters and make it interesting. What I’m curious about is if they actually ask the authors to use them to make a new idea. Also, how much of a problem would it be to them if they were to leave it alone? I think it would possibly influence more people to do it, disregarding the copyright laws. I guess that is why they are there in the first place.

    I also very much enjoy fair use when others take advantage of the opportunity to create something that is already in existence and make it even better than it was.

    Awesome input on this week’s blog. See you in class!


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