POST BROADCAST LIVE TELEVISION; SELF CONSCIOUS AND FULL OF INTERRUPTIONS

Live television serves multiple purposes from the banal to the extraordinary, it is there to showcase, to add spin to events, to showcase and create spectacle, but it’s primary goal is about bringing people together. Live breakfast TV, for example Sunrise, succeeds in doing this through a specific set of production elements employed. It constantly addresses the audience directly and as a live production is often clunky and choppy in its delivery but it is also very much aware of itself and seeks to make this explicit with the audience. It is these features that characterise live “ordinary” television (breakfast television), and their effect that I intend to analyse.  

Live “ordinary” television, like breakfast television, exists to provide entertainment and information to the audience. It functions also as a way of joining public and private life, existing as a public sphere for the national community. It does this by blending the public and private sphere; bringing information concerning the wider public to you in the intimate space of your home.

Broadcast nationally on free-to-air TV 5 days a week (with Weekend Sunrise at 7am on Saturday and Sunday), it is fair to say that Sunrise Australia works hard to promote, and at the same time create a sense of national identity and values. A mix of feature news stories, entertainment, home-living and infomercial type segments Sunrise looks to provide every Australian home with something of interest in their morning routine.

As a conventional breakfast TV program, Sunrise focuses largely on presenting news and current affairs to the viewer in a way that is not overly serious; something that you can wake up and get ready whilst having the TV on perhaps in the background. It seeks to become a part of your daily routine, the personalities look to be friends with you, to take part in your morning ritual inside the personal space of the home with the viewer. I will be analysing the clip screened in the lecture from Sunrise on Friday July 30th 2010.

The opening segment follows many of the standard conventions of post-broadcast live television; predominantly, it is self-aware that it is a television show and is more than willing to share this awareness with the audience at any given moment. The first shot of the studio is a wide shot from a camera crane, it shows a large amount of the studio, including other cameras and crew – a distinct reference to the act of watching tv and making tv. Furthermore the program contains multiple time markers, from the time displayed at the bottom right of the screen along with rolling news headlines and weather updates, to the announcement of the date by the presenters at the beginning of the show. These markers create a sense of immediacy and amplify the to-the-minute nature of the program.

Live television can often feel clunky, and taken out of context this segment of Sunrise definitely does. The unscripted casual banter back and forth between presenters often gives rise to a choppy, unnatural pattern of shot changes that are not rhythmic. At times, the speaker is not even shown which feels even more disruptive and unnatural. However the tone and overall mood of the program is not largely affected by this as it relies partly on the casual remarks and rapport building between presenters to in turn build rapport with the audience.

Sunrise seeks very much to include it’s audience, a common feature of post-broadcast television, it does this multiple ways. A characteristic of live television, it addresses the audience directly, greeting them at the beginning of the show and involving them through direct interrogatives throughout the broadcast. Allowed into the home, and into the intimate space of morning ritual, this is an important feature of how the show seeks to be understood by the audience. By constantly directly referring to them “…don’t you think?” or even“…we’ll be right back, don’t go anywhere” a sense of inclusion is created, and a something more than a one-way relationship begins to be built. The dress of the presenters, and overall look of the show is more relaxed, more casual then the nightly news program, or any live daytime TV. With this Sunrise seeks to level the field between the presenters and the viewer, to create something immediate and personal for the viewer. The hierarchical structure common to news programs is not so present here, the lesser featured presenters often chatting with the main presenters before and/or after their segments. The dress and hairstyles does not promote the power dynamic that sits with the nightly news anchor, instead the presenters are dressed in a more relaxed outfit, something you can feel comfortable with in your pre-caffeinated morning state.

Live Television is all about being in the moment, and rolling with whatever happens. Of course, it can all go horribly wrong (see link), but that in itself is entertaining for the audience. We don’t watch Sunrise for the spectacle of success or failure as we would with live event television, however when things do go wrong it is quickly to picked up on and the way the presenters handle it in the moment in turn builds rapport with the audience. 

Advertisements

POST BROADCAST TELEVISION, TRANSMEDIA AND THE PHENOMENON THAT IS TWIN PEAKS

Twin Peaks holds an important place in the study of television, in the field of genre, the understanding of audiences and of post broadcast television. Both the episode screened, and the entity that is Twin Peaks support the key characteristics of Post Broadcast TV.

Emerging in the late 1980‘s alongside the post modernist theory regarding active audiences and polysemic texts, Post Broadcast Television assumes audiences to be complex, consumers who understand a text in relation to other texts. A post broadcast television show will therefore draws on knowledge of other texts and their conventions in order to build its narrative.

Twin Peaks is more then just a television series. It exists as a multi-platform, transmedia text with the story world existing across two television series, a film (Twin Peaks: Fire Walk With Me), and a book. Twin Peaks becomes a world, a fictitious place where multiple stories exist. Each text can and does stand alone, however they are all interlinked and together they make up an entire story. Transmedia texts have garnered popularity with the rise of technology and the development of post broadcast television, the more complex narrative arcs allowing for deeper engagement with the characters and the story world.

Post Broadcast Television’s primary focus being entertainment rather then education, Twin Peaks follows the model of content America is so well known for producing. The text is polysemic: made for multiple audiences, and multiple meanings can be discerned from it. Until the creation and broadcast of Twin Peaks, public broadcasters, especially ABC (USA), has viewed audiences as separate groups. Segmented by gender, age and geographical location. The widespread popularity of the first season lead to a new understanding of audiences “…as an amalgamation of different sub-cultural groups rather than a homogenous mass, or even as an amalgamation of family units” (Nelson, 1996) As a result, texts produced became more sophisticated, the understanding of who and how texts could be accessed changed and niche audiences developed, as did the concept of post broadcast television.

Different to a great deal of American serial TV, Twin Peaks holds it’s audience in high esteem, assuming them to be intelligent beings who don’t need plot points spelt out or traditional production elements that emphasize drama (quick cuts, fast zooms) to hold their attention and keep them engaged. Instead it plays with sound and pace to create a surreal and unfamiliar experience for the viewer (such as in Cooper’s dreams). This unconventional style for serial tv led to great intrigue from the wider audience. It’s hybrid, complex nature place it in the category of post broadcast television.

Similar to Lynch’s other works, the television series is of a hybrid genre. It is not purely crime, nor drama, nor soap-opera. It is a mix of all of them and often pokes fun at each of these styles by over-exaggerating them or playing with the audiences notions of standard genre conventions. It contains many of the elements of a traditional soap-opera, but refutes this in multiple instances. For example, the inclusion of scenes from the fake soap-opera Invitation To Love, broadcast on the television sets of the citizens of Twin Peaks often shadows future events, or parallels the lives of the characters featured. The fleeting glimpses we are allowed into the program feature over-exaggerated the corny dialogue, soft lighting and close-ups of emotional expressions that we have come to associate as standard conventions of the soap-opera genre. The act of including a soap-opera within the world of Twin Peaks is making fun of that genre and a way in which Lynch can shoot down any ideas that Twin Peaks is intended to be a soap-opera.

Another example of playing with standard conventions occurs in the Pilot episode; Pete Martell is on the phone to Sheriff Harry Truman, explaining that he has just discovered Laura’s dead body. The scene is set up in a conventional fashion (cutting between the two on the phone) and we all want to know who, however, the Sheriff deliberately frustrates the audience by asking Pete, “Where?” and the scene ends. This sort of build-up and change in direction is common throughout the television series. Part of the entertainment factor of post broadcast television is knowing the conventions and experiencing them being played with.

These examples also support the idea that Twin Peaks was created for the new type of audience that emerged alongside post broadcast television. A sophisticated, intelligent audience, that consume television and other popular culture on a regular basis. These avid consumers understand the conventions of genre television allowing Lynch and Frost to play with the standard ‘rules’ to create a hybrid production.

Twin Peaks consistently plays with the interruptible nature of post-broadcast television. It is also very aware of itself as a production. It makes little attempt to provide the viewers with narrative closure. These factors add to the entertainment value for an audience who understand the conventions of genre television and are interested in experiencing this being played with to provide new content.

 


 

From ‘Twin Peaks,’ USA, to lesser peaks, UK: building the postmodern TV audience.(Sport, Globalization and the Media), Nelson, Robin, Media, Culture & Society, Oct, 1996, Vol.18(4), p.677, accessed August 24 2014

THE ICEBUCKET CHALLENGE: Social Media and virility

Trending social media over the past week has been the Ice Bucket/Ice Water Challenge, and it seems to have been a brilliant way to get people on and using social media to raise awareness. How well this aids the cause or shows support I don’t know, but sharing and tagging seems to continually fuel the “movement”. 

The concept is simple: film yourself getting ice cold water tipped over your head, share it and nominate 2 or more people to complete the challenge after. It’s meant to raise awareness for Motor Neuron Disease, whether or not it does I am skeptical, but this kind of idea would be ideal for our projects. It’s a get the ball rolling kind of thing, and publicly tagging people means that they are quite likely to complete the challenge as it is something that others will be able to see. 

This is the perfect kind of concept that enables us as social media producers to look at reach and audience, it would be easy enough to start something ourselves and then other people would get involved as the process moves along.

The LIKING Commodity

The Four Corners Documentary: Generation Like offers a deeper look into what it means when we decide to publicly display our support for brands via social media.

“Likes”, “Retweets”, “Shares”, “Favourites” have become in their own way a currency – not only do people’s interaction with brands via social media both helps to validate themselves as a person in a world where online image matters so much, they also advertise for corporations to a relevant market (peers), building brand awareness and advertising on behalf of a company without requesting anything in return. The value of social media companies is based largely on their potential reach. And now it is not so much about the technology itself, but what is being achieved via it. Our time and emotion becomes the value of advertising. Many corporations have begun to exploit this mash up of culture and commerce where the consumer is equally the marketer. Corporate sponsorship and hidden advertising can be found all over our tv screens and throughout the internet.

 

In seeking out likes companies are playing on a very fundamental human characteristic; the want to feel a part of something. You can feature in Beyonce’s halftime super bowl video if you upload a selfie of yourself drinking Pepsi. It’s something that people want to do, to feel included. However it may not be apparent that they are in fact advertising a product. So how far will we go?  People seek attention, and they seek validation. If they can get this over the internet, where they can be seen by so many people, maybe that makes them feel better about themselves. I think that this new way of marketing – having the consumer promote products – highlights more than just that advertisers have continued to work with an ever more aware audience, it highlights the inherent problem people have with not being comfortable in themselves – that they need to seek validation over the internet rather than just being happy with liking what they like and being who they are.

 

Attention seekers and even just people who want to communicate with their friends are becoming famous through Youtube. This is the case for Tyler Oakley and many similar vloggers – they are in a way their own version of a celebrity, however, the way they are seen by the public is totally different. Not being selected by a big organisation, instead becoming popular in perhaps a more organic way – through growing a fanbase online – has meant that the way Tyler relates to his audience (and vice-versa) is different to that of a Hollywood movie-star, selected for a role by a big shot director, who grew up in Orange County with fast cars and learnt how to act famous from an early age. Tyler’s videos are created in an informal way, he directly addresses his audience  from his living room to yours; it creates such a different dynamic. In the documentary Tyler comments that he does run into fans who hug him and treat him like they would a friend – this is driven by the viewing settings. Watching him at home, on your own, every week makes it so similar to catching up with a friend. And viewers are offered many more ways to interact (more directly) with the one they watch.

This new type of celebrity/audience relationship is something that is fostered by the “LIKE generation”, and both parties contribute to the success.