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New Shows, New Paratexts, 1: Online Quizzes and Polls

September 5th, 2011 | Jonathan Gray

I really need to blog more often. What better excuse than the imminent start of a new television season, complete with lots of yummy paratexts to analyze and criticize?

So, without further ado, let me start by discussing the websites for the new network shows.

Overall, they’re a pretty boring lot. You have the standard elements – cast information, character profiles, “sneak peaks” and “exclusive” video that actually seems to be everywhere online, and encouragements to “Friend us now on Facebook!” (when, sorry, Last Man Standing, I don’t want to be your friend) or to follow some or other cast member on Twitter. Most of the sites look like they were put together at speed, too, with little interest in doing anything other than saying, “Hi, look, there’s a show. Wanna watch?” So, overall there’s not too much to discuss.

Terra Nova proves the only true exception, and I’ll get to that in a future post. But in the meantime, I’ve been fascinated by the quizzes and polls that a few lone sites have (The Secret Circle, Playboy Club, Whitney, Prime Suspect, and Up All Night) in addition to the other elements. The quizzes and polls interest me, since they’re subtle ways of suggesting what the show is all about, disciplining our understanding and (since they’re quizzes) “knowledge” about the shows before they hit the air. What do they say?

Sub-dividing, Secret Circle has a “Which Type of Witch Are You?” quiz, in which your answers determine which character you’re most like; Playboy Club and Up All Night have quizzes with actual correct or incorrect answers; and Whitney and Prime Suspect have polls on favorite past shows and characters. Let’s take each in turn. Read more…

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Twilight “Haters”: A Response to My Last Post

January 16th, 2010 | Jonathan Gray

My last post was about Avatar haters and the pleasures of their hate, but here’s a wonderful clip playing another type of anti-fandom, namely fraudulent anti-fandom:

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Hating on James Cameron: Avatar’s Anti-Fans

January 9th, 2010 | Jonathan Gray

Everyone has an opinion on Avatar, or so a browse through my Google Reader, Facebook feed, and trips to public spaces seem to suggest. Moreover, opinions seem remarkably unified within two central camps – either it’s a great ride and a cinematic breakthrough, or it’s all hype and a piece of crap. But these positions develop before people watch. I’d pose that pretty much everyone is getting what they think they’re going to get out of Avatar: either you expect a wonderful visual feast and you get it, or you expect to find a stupid story (“Dances with Wolves on another planet”) with visuals that are either ho-hum or excessive, and you get that.

This latter camp fascinates me, as do their counterparts with most critically and/or popularly loved films or television shows. We know they won’t like the film. They know they won’t like the film. Yet they insist on watching it. Why? What are they paying for? After the fold …

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