Wasko, J ~ Hollywood in the Information Age

Wasko, Janet
Hollywood in the Information Age: Beyond the Silver Screen

Describes the history of change in Hollywood?

“the business of entertainment is often not considered serious business by economists and other proponents of an information age.”
“On the other hand, technological components or economic characteristics of entertainment are less important to many media scholars or cultural analysts, who are more interested in studying entertainment products as texts or measuring audiences or the effects of entertainment messages, thus missing the possible connections to fundamental components of this (supposedly) new technological era.”

Hollywood has a reputation of being technologically backward.

“this book will present a political economic analysis of Hollywood and the latest technologies.”
Chapter 2 will consider historical treatments of Hollywood and technology, with a brief discussion of specific periods of technological development in film history.
Chapter 3 presents an overview of some of the technological developments in the production of motion pictures, while
chapter 4 details the activities of the dominant Hollywood corporations that link film production with distribution.
Major outlets for the distribution of Hollywood products are considered in the following chapters:
cable (chapter 5),
home video (chapter 6),
and theatrical exhibition (chapter 7).
Hollywood’s marketing and merchandising strategies are detailed in chapter 8,
while global activities are outlined in chapter 9.
Based on these discussions, conclusions will be offered in chapter 10.”

“Studying film for film’s sake – A good portion of the academic study of film typically has been insular and self-contained, with little regard to interrelationships between media or media and social context.” She references Thomas H. Guback, 1978, Are we looking at the right things in films?; paper from society for cinema studies conference, philadelpia, penn.

“the potential of video, cable and satellite technologies have been developed with profit, rather than expanded communication and/or enlightenment, in mind. In other words, the film industry’s primary motivation has to do with profits, not necessarily with film.”

“the dominant use of these new media forms [the ones she talks about throughout the book: VHS, cable, satellite, laser disc, etc.] is entertainment. No, nothing against a good laugh, a good cry, a mindless romp through outer space. The point, again, is that we were promised so much more.”

3 myths were introduced in chapter 1: the information age (as any other new technology/age before it) promises to bring along

  1. more competition -> indies will get their chance
  2. industrial conflict -> there is still such a thing as a ‘film industry’
  3. more diversity -> more kinds of content will be created

This book showed that all 3 myths are untrue. Hollywood is as dominant es ever. Hollywood is an integrated business, they are not ‘just’ filmmakers. We experience ‘recycled culture’; more outlets simply reair the same existing content.

“Indeed, there are differences in the essences of these various media, as Marshall McLuhan and Harold Innis showed us in their work.
Yet these differences are breaking down and it might behoove us to think in terms of transindustrial activities, emphasizing the overlapping strategies of a relatively few corporations producing and distributing entertainment and cultural products. Again, we might also revisit the notion of a culture industry, as depicted by the Frankfurt School theorists in the 1930s.”
=> chapter transmedia lit review, from an industrial (not content) perspective.

“It remains to be seen if the public will ever be offered anything really new or challenging from future technological developments or other industrial changes. But it also remains to be seen how the public ultimately will respond.” => new things HAVE come (The Beast), the public IS responding, EA hopes to unify these two.

About the author

Woitek Konzal

Producer, Consultant, Lecturer & Researcher. I love working where technology meets media in novel ways. Once, I even won an Emmy for digital innovation doing that. Be it for a small but exciting campaign about underground electronic music collectives or for a monster project combining two movies, various 360° videos, 72 ARG-like mini puzzles, and a Unity game, all wrapped up in one cross-platform app – I have proven my ability to adapt to what is required. This passion for novel technologies has regularly allowed me to cross paths with tech startups – an industry and philosophy I am all set to engage with more. I intensely enjoy balancing out my practical work with academic research, teaching, and consulting. Also, I have a PhD in Creative Industries, a M.Sc. in Business Administration, and love to kitesurf.

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