Thursday, November 19, 2009

The Social Robot- Fandom and Social Networks

Another article of mine is up at The Social Robot. This time I'm discussing the role of fan communities and social networks. Check it out.
"Geek Culture has become increasingly powerful in Hollywood and Fan Communities on social networks are as sought after by consumer product companies as they are by TV shows and feature films. What draws fans to a property, product or community? What is the magic alchemy that gives some properties armies of loyal torchbearers?"

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Franchises coming to film!

Two old properties getting the reboot to feature film in the works were recently announced:

Jem, which has Peter Barsocchini, a writer of High School Musical attached to the 1980s Hasbro property and is quite clearly a girls franchise...
...and the Berenstein Bears. While the Berenstein Bears are not ostensibly a "girls franchise" they certainly appeal to both genders, and often presented quite aspirational themes to girls, and touched on many issues near and dear to a young girl's heart without necessarily alienating their boy counterparts.

Walden Media CEO Michael Bostick says it's vital to honor the "goodwill from generations of families" who have enjoyed the books, but he compares the characters to other outcast families "like The Beverly Hillbillies or The Addams Family, who don't quite fit in but manage to survive."

The Berenstain Bears have existed as 2-D illustrations for so long, they are also getting "a slight makeover to bring it into the three-dimensional style, but we'll embrace the core design elements," Bostick says. "It'll be a slightly modern spin on their look."

So yeah... there's that quote. The Berenstein Bears were always part of their community, they lived in a world of other bears in which they dealt with pretty normal issues of growing up and being a family. I have to ask, do they need to be made into another fish out of water story? Haven't we all seen that before? I hope they manage to do something with the screenplay that doesn't seem like more of the same thing we've seen from the reboot of so many mid-twentieth century franchises.

Monday, November 16, 2009

My Little Pony gets new life as TV series!

From the Hollywood Reporter:
"My Little Pony" may become the first Hasbro property to spawn a TV series for the upcoming kids cable channel, a joint venture between Hasbro and Discovery.

The newly formed Hasbro Studios, which is designed to be a main supplier of the new channel, has put "Pony" on a fast development track.

Hasbro Studios had been looking into several Hasbro brands as potential series vehicles. "Pony" emerged as a frontrunner following the strong showing of one-hour special "My Little Pony: Twinkle Wish Adventure" on the Disney Channel Nov. 6.

"The runaway success of 'My Little Pony' on the Disney Channel affirms our belief in the long-term value of this project," said Hasbro Studios president Stephen Davis.

"Pony" will undergo a multi-platform development for TV as well as video game and other digital extensions.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Links- Grab Bag

I've been negligent in my blogging (check out what I've been writing for the Social Robot) mostly because work has been busy, nothing I can talk about yet though. So in the meantime, here's an assortment of interesting things that have passed into my "to write about" list but well, I don't think I'm going to get to any time soon.

Mathematicians find a formula for a hit film sequel:
The research, which will be published in the Journal of Marketing this month, examined data from all 101 movie sequels released in North American theatres between 1998 and 2006 and a matched sub sample of stand-alone films with similar characteristics. According to the formula, upcoming sequel The Twilight Saga: New Moon should be expected to return $34m more for the producers in its US run than a comparable vampire/ teen romance movie with the same characteristics that is not a sequel.
Here is an interesting review of a book that talks about "The Trouble with Boys" which points out how while girls are thought of as "sugar, spice and everything nice" little boys face the same blanket stereotyping that girls do. Always good to remember and discuss.

From Jezebel: An interesting (but slightly limited) study was recently posted on the Pixels and Policy blog, about attitudes towards "female avatars and gender expectations." The results? For many women players, it's easier to embrace sexualization than to fight it.

The NY Post Interviewed Sarah Haskins, who if you have been reading this blog for any amount of time, you know I love.

“Advertising is so ridiculous because it’s trying to still use some of the traditional gender roles, while also trying to match the changes . . . in the past 40 to 50 years,” says Haskins, who has a background in improv comedy... Haskins says the comedy of “Target: Women” masks serious intentions: “As the Internet and TV and movies all become one scary machine in your living room, it’s important that we all have some level of media literacy.”

TV discovers that DVR is not the horrifying dragon eager to eat its ad sales that it once assumed.
"DVR ratings now add significantly to live ratings and thus to ad revenue... The DVR was going to kill television,” said Andy Donchin, director of media investment for the ad agency Carat. 'It hasn’t.'”
And finally, here are two articles that deal in classic female archetypes: The Stepmother, classically evil, petty, vein and malignant, and the Fairy Godmother, Fairy Godmother Academy specifically, a children's property with a transmedia rollout attached to it that is being developed through Random House.

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Violence Against Women more common than previous years on Prime Time TV

The Parents Television Council released a recent report on the violent acts found on prime time TV that stated that violence against women on TV is up when compared to previous years.

Now, the Parents Television Council can at times seem alarmist, like the Gossip Girl Threesome Episode controversy they stoked in the past few weeks, which to many seemed overblown and alarmist (They say that it represents a consequence free act, but the episodes that follow it detail significant fallout for the characters involved who are all depicted to be of age at the time of consent). But that shouldn't invalidate their study on violence, at least in the form of raw data.

The Parents Television Council released its report Wednesday. It says it counted more than 400 violent acts against women in prime time on ABC, CBS, NBC and Fox shows in February and May this year. There were just under 200 during those months in 2004.

The council notes that acts against women are a small percentage of violence in prime time.

The report shows there were more than 3,900 violent acts not specifically aimed at women during those two months.

The study noted that depiction of violence overall has changed little over the years — up 2 percent from 2004. Depiction of violence against women, however, was up 120 percent.

It said 29 percent of the incidents were beatings, 18 percent credible threats of violence, 11 percent were shootings, 8 percent were rapes, 6 percent stabbings and 2 percent torture — but that in 92 percent of the incidents, graphic violence against women was depicted, not just implied.

The PTC said the following based on its data:
... the impact of violence on TV had a desensitizing effect, especially on youths and he urged TV networks and TV advertisers to act. He pointed to the rape incident in Richmond and to recent publicity about pro athletes being involved in beatings.

“I believe it is having a devastating effect,” he said.

PTC included cartoon violence in its examination, and the group rapped Fox for violence against women in "Family Guy" and "American Dad," accusing the network of “trivializing the gravity of the issue of violence against women.” Fox declined comment.

PTC said every network except ABC “demonstrated a dramatic increase in the number of storylines that included violence against women.”

It said the number was up 192 percent at NBC, 119 percent at CBS, 109 percent at Fox and 39 percent at ABC. CBS had the highest number of incident.

There is certainly a point to be made about the violence witnessed on television but the question I have to ask is, is there any way to measure the related consequences of this violence being presented? Like the Gossip Girl issue, can the PTC say that the violence presented is presented without context of portraying it negatively, portraying the consequences of that violence on both victim and perpetrator than other years?

Television does impact people's perception of behaviors, but it's also an elegant tool for showing stories in a way that can present the consequences of those actions (like how sleeping with your roommate and her boyfriend who is your best friend is likely to at the very least, complicate the #*@t out of your life). Simply railing against violence in general is just not constructive, drama is based on conflict, and the world has a lot of violence in it. Taking on the seriousness in which violence is treated in mass-media, THAT is an important issue to consider, and one that can be more handily addressed than banning violence altogether.

The Full PTC Report can be viewed here.

The Social Robot- Guest Bloggership

I feel silly for not posting this last week, I'm doing a guest bloggership over at The Social Robot,

My first article on Transmedia Storytelling went up last week, it's a pretty simple definition of what Transmedia Storytelling is and how to recognize it in the marketplace.

Friday, November 13, 2009

Modern Warfare 2, bring back party chat, for the sake of common decency

My dear friend EruditeChick over at posted about a simple seeming game dynamic that was cut from Modern Warfare 2 and how not having it can be more than just annoying, it can really ruin your buzz.
Dear Infinity Ward:

Please release a patch or fix that will allow users to utilize party chat in all modes of online gameplay, if only for the sake of your female fans. We shelled out the money for the game, we stayed up all night and missed half a day of work playing it, we write and read reviews and buy MW2 caps for our avatars on the XBox Live marketplace.

Out of respect for us, since, sadly, the majority of the people who play your game online have none, give us back party chat so we can enjoy the wonderful evolution of the online play without being told how unwelcome, ugly, stupid, and useless for anything other than degrading sexual acts we are. Please give us back party chat so we can have tactical conversation with the friends we're playing with, without having to hear how we have no right to be there, no right to play; so we don't have to hear, out of the mouths of sexist, bitter virgins who have clocked months worth of their lives in game time that we are socially defunct and sexually wrong, somehow, for playing.

I would really appreciate it.


Seriously, being able to play your game while avoiding someone's trolling is just so reasonable an option to avoid this kind of behavior. People playing multiplayer games are going to be inappropriate at times, but there are obvious ways to mitigate that, i.e. bring in party chat, make the experience more enjoyable for folks who like to play with their friends without being unreasonably hassled. It's not just an issue of misogyny, it's an issue of game enjoyment for everyone.