Scott Ellington's Blog

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Irking Christy Dena

Christy Dena and Jeff Gomez have long been powerful and effective advocates for innovation in the structure of entertainment.  Following her Tweets, I found reference to people like me, here: 

“For all the newcomers to the area who are excitedly exploring #transmedia – a big welcome! Go for it! I hope you create great projects!”   (about 9 hours ago via web)


“It is just the people who have suddenly entered the area or have been quiet all these years and are suddenly public experts that irk me.”   (about 9 hours ago via web)

While I don’t mean to imply that Christy is chastising my latecomer’s remarks disparaging the recent success of transmedia advocates in gaining a measure of recognition from mainstream media , the shoe fits perfectly well.  I might as well wear it proudly. 

I’ve been dropping my goofy opinions around the internet for years, frequenting places like Henry Jenkins’ aca/fan blog, Lessig space, and six years of critiquing photgraphs over at  Most of the stuff I’ve contributed, logical and coherent or otherwise, persistently questions definitions and assumptions that signify the current tide of expert and popular opinion.

I’ve confused and irritated a lot of professional and amateur photographers by asking (for example) why so many of them repeal the law of gravity by cocking their cameras at peculiar angles in order to take “visually dynamic” pictures.  How can fetish photography be deeply personal when most of it dwells on fashion statements about mass-produced materials; latex, piercings, wigs…?  And a thousand other questions bent on connecting authorial intent to uncommunicative execution.  In six years, I spoke with lots of gearheads whose rationale for making photographs had surprisingly little to do with the people they photographed, the people who viewed their pictures, and nothing in particular to do with communication.  It was about costly hardware, advancing technology and gadgety stuff…leaving the heavy lifting of making sense of the image to the viewer because the photographer generally didn’t know or care how a given image was interpreted.  I cared.

A similar set of questions arise for me in cinema.  Early in the course of writing this blog I tried to express my confusion concerning the very long cinematic tradition of photographing and editing human interaction from multiple visual angles.  Robert Montgomery’s 1946 film, The Lady in the Lake is an fascinating, disciplined and failed attempt at bringing Raymond Chandler to the screen through the eyes of Philip Marlowe.  An enormous 1946 movie camera is only one technical part of the problem, the filmmaker chose to completely eliminate the streaming voice of Marlowe’s thought, which is Chandler’s cardinal virtue. 

If the holy grail of modern entertainment is “audience engagement”, maybe the traditional practices of multiple-camera/quick-cuts and counterintuitive point of view is an enormous impediment industry leaders need to dispense with.  The most effective means to communicate the difference (that these words don’t really convey) between a camera’s coherent point of view and what Hollywood’s been doing for 90 years is neatly expemplifed in With the Angels,  webseries I found at

At Lawrence Lessig’s blog, in mid-2008, I asked why the Highlander ethos (“there can be only one”) applies to the American presidency.  There and at Huffington Post (somewhere) and at Bill Moyers’ blog I asked if anyone know how large a percentage of my contribution to the Obama campaign was instantly consigned to the very deep pocket of the magnates of mainstream media — the same names that turned out empty pockets when the writers’ strike highlighted their conviction that the internet was strictly a promotional medium possessed of indeterminate commercial potential.

About 90%  of the questions I ask go unanswered.  No matter.  Irking Christy Dean is not one of my objectives.  Much higher on my to-do list is the task of simply understanding what the hell she and an easy dozen of highly-qualified experts have to say about transmedia. 

A few hours after Christy mentioned being irked, Nina Paley Tweeted a link to this:

Mike Masnick’s article suggests, perhaps only to me, that the marriage of art and commerce, copywrite and professional recognition…is based in our collective (suspect) faith in avarice as the driving social force that fosters culture.  Hellboy 2, I learned from the commentary last night, was budgeted at $85million.  The superhero films with which it was slated to compete for the attention of audiences averaged $175million, each.  Maybe money matters.  Maybe insanely generous compensation packages for executives in failing industries and institutions makes some kind of sense.  And maybe nobody’s questioning nutty perceptions of business-as-usual.  I care…not about health insurance, my reputation as a media analyst (I spitshine other people’s desktop telephones for a living), and not about lots of adult concerns that bother other people.  For some unaccountable reason, I care about transmedia, creative freedom and the apprehension authorial intent, among other things.  And I’ll probably go on questioning authorities (who very rarely respond/participate/interact) anyway.

Christy Dena is certainly not specifically irked at me.  This blog is slightly less influential than a germ in a flea on the tail of a dog that wags for other reasons, but to anybody who happens to be listening, I think it’s time to dissolve the bonds in our thinking that elevate professionalism in art over artists’ more-amateur pursuits; choices not guided by money.  Something’s going to wag this dog differently. 

Let’s go to irk, if necessary.

19 Apr 10 Posted by | Uncategorized | | 15 Comments