remix culture: vernacular creativity and power
Today’s Remix Culture class is about fan writing, collective writing/creation and vernacular creativity. Students have read these articles:
- Burgess, Jean. 2006. Hearing Ordinary Voices: Cultural Studies, Vernacular Creativity and Digital Storytelling Continuum, 20(2), pages 201-214. (particularly p 201-207)
- Jenkins, Henry . 2006. “Why Heather Can Write: Media Literacy and the Harry Potter Wars” Convergence Culture: Where Old and New Media Collide. New York: New York University Press, 2006: page 169-205
- L¸ders, Marika. 2008. Conceptualizing Personal Media. New Media and Society 10(5).
- Rettberg, Scott. 2005.ìAll Together Now: Collective Knowledge, Collective Narratives, and Architectures of Participation.î Proceedings of Digital Arts and Culture, Copenhagen.
We’ll talk a bit about key concepts in these articles (cultural studies: audience as co-creators of meaning, vs today where they’re more literal creators; amateur, prosumer; , and then move on to explore a case study, which admittedly only minimally involves remixing. It heavily involves responding to mass media/celebrities though, so I’m using it anyway. We’ll look at Dan Bull’s “Love Letter” to Lily Allen and the media fuss it’s gained. Groups of students will be given different tasks and then we’ll all come together to discuss the case and in particular, ideas about democratisation of the media (or not) and the power relationships between celebrities and “ordinary people” and the media.
Here are the tasks groups will work on and present to the class:
- Who is Lily Allen? What did she recently say about copyright and piracy of music? Can you summarise a few media/popular responses to this?
- Who is Dan Bull? Was he well known before this video? What other things has he done/made? Were they popular? Is his Twitter account popular? What kind of things does he write there?
- How popular is Dan Bull’s video? It was featured in the free London newspaper Metro – how important was this mainstream media attention in making the video popular? Was it featured in other mainstream media? Has it spread in other online/social media? Summarise the video’s rise to fame.
Once we have the “facts” of the case on the table I want to discuss the way Dan Bull used a celebrity to pull himself (or perhaps better, his message?) into public view (see also his Twitter feed where he comments Yoko Ono, for instance), and the relationship between mass media and this kind of viral media. Is Dan Bull simply playing us – is this a carefully planned market strategy to get famous? Or is he just as dependent on mass media as the rest of us? What’s Lily Allen’s position in all this?