Friday, January 28, 2011

Interactivity and commodities

Mark Andrejevic’s discussion of the online message board Television Without Pity (TWoP) as a space for interaction with television or a space in which viewers may respond to encouragements to “climb out of their couch to embrace a more active approach to their viewing experience” (Andrejevic, 139) presents an interesting analysis of the relationships that emerge around these forums between viewers, producers and texts. What Andrejevic proposes is that as a result of this shift the viewer feels as though the distinction between themselves as consumers and the role of producers is diminished. That is, the viewer feels as though they are becoming more actively involved in the production of the text via their consumption of it and interaction around it.
            In terms of Henry Jenkins’s discussion of participatory culture this sense among consumers of becoming pseudo-producers is not isolated to the particular TWoP forum. Indeed Jenkins’s use of the term “Participatory Culture” rather than Interactive media proposes a similar understanding of the changing relationship between consumers and media. By directly engaging with media users are no longer strictly consumers and, if they do begin to function as producers or at least feel that they do this generates a distinct affective relationship to products (television, facebook, etc.). This would suggest that consumers of media are no longer passive in their emotional relationship to the products but rather are more directly involved and thus emotionally invested in that which they produce.
            This changing relationship between consumer and product is particularly intriguing if we begin to think of it as altering capitalistic relationships. That is, this system that Andrejevic and Jenkins both address wherein consumers also feel like producers challenges established concepts like the commodity fetish (Discussed in my last post). Perhaps interactivity as labor and consumption disrupts more linear concepts of consumption?

More later.

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