Introduction to Popular Culture Studies

Reappraising the Residual, Part 2

Posted by nathanpowers22 on February 20, 2017

Chapter 2 of Spreadable Media offers several insights into how Web 2.0 has cultivated an environment conducive to fan curation and archival of residual media. Additionally, this section provides many great examples of consumer-driven movements and actions that have brought such texts out of the residual sphere into the emergent, and sometimes dominant, realms of cultural relevance (national wrestling networks being the greatest example). However, the part that elicited the most in-depth reflection on my part—aside from the potential for “hyperstasis” in the music industry—was the last paragraph, which suggests, “The media and marketing industries still have not, as a whole, developed an attuned ear to their audiences and how their intellectual property is circulating between these two logics [audience motivation to spread media and company desire to profit].” I think most people, especially young adults like myself, would agree with this sentiment at first glance. Large corporations can’t keep up with the “fast culture” driven by modish young millennials like us, right?

I think this assumption is wrong in part because people within this age bracket comprise the greatest proportion of the workforce today [1], and those percentages are likely far higher in the world of social media for obvious reasons. That said, I think the attitude of corporate interests regarding media co-creation with audiences is shifting heavily in favor of participatory engagement. However, I think the true barrier to association with user-generated content for businesses is more often than not tied to mature or controversial themes inherent to many fan creations. Conglomerates tend to distance themselves from anything that doesn’t fit a relatively clean-cut, impartial brand mold with erotic fanfics, politically charged satire, and grittier, edgier revisions of TV shows, movies, etc. being prime examples of such ill-fitting transformations and offshoots. This is not to say that there are not exceptions and nuances to this rule, but I would say that in cases where more adult-oriented content gets distributed by companies, it is a strategic move on their behalf to garner support from demographics that constitute the majority of the audience to which they’re marketing (e.g. adults, liberals, minorities, etc.).

[1] – http://www.pewresearch.org/fact-tank/2015/05/11/millennials-surpass-gen-xers-as-the-largest-generation-in-u-s-labor-force/


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