Saturday, February 13, 2016

Core 2: TV & The [Social Media] Audience

Both Henry Jenkins III and Mark Andrejevic talk about fandom and the different forms it takes. Jenkins focuses specifically on Star Trek fans and their use of fanzines to be textual poachers, while Andrejevic focuses on online fans. With the time in which we live Andrejevic’s article jumped out to me more, especially the notion of interactivity.

Interactivity is defined as “a way of recapturing a lost, more participatory past by moving ahead into an era in which viewers can talk back to the TV—and actually be heard.” (24) Through the concept of interactivity, viewers become an integral part of the development of some television shows and move from being passive to active viewership. Interactivity “allows the viewers to take on the work of finding ways to make a show more interesting.” (28) Andrejevic uses the online forum, Television Without Pity, as the overarching example of interactivity. While reading about the way the TWoP worked, I started to wonder about how social media is a more recent form of interactivity.

Social media has taken over in the past few years when it comes to how fans interact with one another especially on Twitter. Shonda Rhimes has taken over TV Thursdays and so have viewers with #TGIT. Though the way the viewers interact is not exactly the same with how viewers interact on sites like TWoP, there are still many similarities between the two platforms. Sites like TWoP are mainly meant as a way for viewers to voice their opinions but beyond the action and storyline presented. The same could be argued for Twitter. Viewers voice their opinions as well but it’s usually live. The interaction between viewers includes retweeting, replying, and liking other viewer’s tweets on their thoughts and reaction to the show. Andrejevic mentions in his article how some producers, cast members, and people of shows have responded to some fans, sometimes in snarky or nice ways. A big perk of Twitter is the ability for viewers to easily interact with stars of a show due to the stars responding and interacting with fans, as they also live tweet like the fans. Even though social media platforms can have limitations on what viewers say, i.e. character limits, that online fan sites or fanzines may not have, it is still a form of interactivity between viewers and those involved in the shows.

Here are some tweets from How To Get Away with Murder stars interacting with viewers


  1. Anna,

    I think it's great that you brought up Twitter in regards to this week's readings. There does seem to be a limit to the ways in which audience members can interact with actors/creators in a truly meaningful way on an individual level, but I would argue that the platform is absolutely influential, especially in terms of how the shows are marketed. In addition to all of Shonda's shows, The Walking Dead, Empire, and American Horror Story seem to be trending every night they air. I know that the networks take note, but I'm sure that the writers/producers do as well.

    It reminds me of Andrejevic quoting J.J. Abrams in "Watching Television Without Pity: The Productivity of Online Fans": "If the Internet is your audience, TV is quite like a play...Movies are a done deal - there's no give and take - but in a play, you listen to the applause, the missing laughs, the boos. It's the same with the Internet. If you ignore that sort of response, you probably shouldn't be working in TV right now," (pg. 25).

  2. Hi Anna, thank you for posting Twitter as an example, which helps Mark Andrejevic to avoid the biggest problem existing in his article that just using a fandom web site as a case study is too limited to analyze the extensive mediated interactivity. However, this article indirectly refutes the argument “TV as a forum” we discussed before because TV is one-way communication, and it have to rely on new media to be a forum. At the same time, your post and the article demonstrate that, in new media age, one-step flow of communication model, mass media—audiences, is gradually replaced by two-step flow of communication model, mass media---opinion leaders---audiences. To be specific, the “recappers” or the popular Twitter users can be seen as opinion leaders, and the most viewers’ decisions and view experiences are influenced by opinion leaders.