Scott Ellington's Blog

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Having spent the past couple of hours reading and thinking here:

it seemed especially appropriate to consider carefully Jeff Gomez’ opening statement,

“I’m the first to admit that there are far too many diverse definitions of transmedia and even transmedia narrative, but even the mavericks in our crowd will agree that the term is distinguished by the fact that story becomes paramount in the dispersal of content across various media platforms and formats.”

I’d like to suggest that story is probably paramount to storytellers and central to all interested content creators, but angels seem to fixate on ROI.

I like longform-story-that-incentivizes-audience-archaeology kind of a lot!  And with only the sketchiest understanding of the contingencies involved in the metrics of franchise-success, the intricacies of narrative structure, the byzantine complexities of product distribution and predictive business models…I see the transmedia movement as prone to several practical hazzards.  Firefly is my shining example of a deeply-engaging IP that was brutally murdered by its angels.

The corporate ownership of intellectual property is where mainstream media starts, right this minute, here&now.  Corporations exist to limit personal liability while maximizing profit.  The fundamental purposes corporations serve are radically different (maybe antithetical) to the purposes of art.  And without defining art, consider the state of the art of the contemporary corporation: 

Composed of competing divisions, the modern corporation is representative of a culture rife/riddled with proprietary secrets, flexible alliegences, and a remunerative structure that’s most beneficial to

  1. persons at the tippy-top of its hierarchical strucure and
  2. shareholders whose contribution to the creation of product could not be more intangible.

I see the transmedia movement as capable of branding the template of corporate culture deep into the living flesh of independent content creation.  That’s totally anti-progressive for the evolution of art and prevents the growth and facilitation of the collaboration of independent artists. 

Whether narrative or profit is paramount to modelmakers, animators, actionfigure assembly-line-workers… isn’t the point I’m trying to make.  It’s that the art of collaboration is more important than the quality or quantity of the end product, to me.  I suspect that the inevitable ubiquity of now-developing transmedia modalities in content creation will be very greatly influenced by corporate culture; the only pockets deep enough to fund widely-popular experiments, with an eagle-eye on ROI, and platitudes about the primacy of story.

I do not mean to impugn Jeff Gomez’ word nor his integrity, but I’m fundamentally curious about entertainment projects owned by the widening diversity of artists who made them — for the benefit of culture, rather than funding agencies and angels.  Transmedia entertainment might become the exemplary beacon of participatory democracy, but an environment ruled by

  • governmental mandates,
  • corporate ownership/interference, and
  • audiences geared to behave like inattentive herd animals

doesn’t bode well for the vitality of liberty, the emancipation of the arts, nor artists, nor people.  That’s all.

15 Jan 10 - Posted by | Uncategorized |


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