Tuesday, April 12, 2016

Core Post 5

 In “Where the global meets the local: notes from the sitting room” David Morley posits that studies of media consumption cannot remain merely local or global but must somehow find the commonalities between the two, to understand how each informs and generates the other. Communication technologies construct identities broadly and narrowly. They enable some shared experiences which connect disparate populations, while also enabling other shared experiences which allow the preservation of local identities across previously insurmountable distances. Thus scholars of global television studies cannot ignore either the macro or the micro spheres in their analysis of television’s effects:“just as we should then be concerned with the role of communications technologies in the constitution of national identity, so with the analysis of the implication of these technologies in the construction of identities at the domestic level (14).” The geography of community is changing in light of communication technologies like television, but this change is not a straightforward expansion or retraction. Likewise the community divisions that communication technologies simultaneously blur and emphasize are not straightforwardly set between classes and cultures, but rather a result of a complex series of variables (12). TV Studies must grapple with both the fragmentary and homogenizing power of the televisual medium.

As I read Morley’s article this week I also witnessed an extraordinary, if superficially meaningless event–the Buzzfeed Watermelon explosion. On Friday afternoon via Facebook Live, Buzzfeed broadcast a live feed of two of their employees wrapping rubber bands around a watermelon until it exploded. This event attracted 800,000 live viewers, millions of viewers after the fact, and the attention of think-piece journalists from CNBC to Vulture. Media opinion remains divided on whether the unprecedentedly popular live broadcast represents “the future of tv” (CNBC) or if it is merely an aberration caused by Friday mid-afternoon boredom (International Business Times). Nonetheless, the event brings to mind Morley’s fluctuating connections between the local and the global. Certainly, the event demonstrates how communication technologies can bring a community event into existence and foster a global experience which is neither truly private or public. 800,000 people now have a common past of watching the Buzzfeed watermelon explode. However, It is unclear to me what kind of identity the Buzzfeed watermelon fosters, whether local or global. The event does not seem to maintain traditions of any kind, yet attracted a huge amount of interest. To utilize Morley’s language, what kind of macro and micro effects does a live, social media driven event like the Buzzfeed watermelon generate? How does it fragmentize and homogenize its viewers?



  1. Great Post Katie, I think Morely's article resonated the most for me in the way he pointed out the simultaneous fragmentation and unification of audiences as brought by media convergence. I think the stance you took with Buzzfeed is a good one since it brings the conversation away from not just traditional television, but also streaming sites, opening the discourse to include viral videos and other types of media as a form of television. From there we can think of how these new forms of media construct national and local identities and how it differs not just from broadcast television, but streaming sites like Hulu and Netflix. While Buzzfeed tries to construct a mass audience, I want to draw a brief attention to sites like "BlackTwitter" and also Vine. In the media that are posted for Vine and BlackTwitter, very specific identities are portrayed and being reached out to. The jokes that are expressed on these platforms are inaccessible to the mass audience both in matters of whose social network feed it pops up on, and also in terms of "getting the joke". Furthermore, these platforms are not only telling jokes of race, but also identities specifically tied to specific urban spaces. This kind of relates to the article by Curtin, when he deals with hubs of cultural activity and how this becomes a marker of a strong cultural identity in a local sense. As many individuals start creating media about their specific environment and then these jokes are disseminated across social media, one gains a fragmented audience that is tied to the physical urban environment and united in the digital space.

    1. Also , lol I would post a link to black twitter posts, which usually consists of memes and gifs, but uhm, google at your own risk. Lol it can be pretty profane :x .

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  2. Morley's article brings up the tension between local and global culture in I think a productive way. Your example of the Buzzfeed watermelon live feed is a great example of the global. On the local side, I'd put forth country-specific memes like "ITSU YARU KA? IMA DESHO!" This was a Japanese meme from 2013 based on a spoof video. It was one of the top memes of that year, but made little impact abroad.