Thursday, November 13, 2008

Late post is Laaate


So I did plan on missing section today (I was ironically @ an MIT Comparative Media Studies Department Information Session, where I got to meet Henry Jenkins and William Uricchio), but I didn't plan on having a late post! I haven't seen much TV in a very long time, and that includes anime, which I think I'll focus on in this post, since I feel convergence works in a very specific way when dealing with international cult TV like Anime and Korean Soap Operas.

In the age of the internet, most Anime reaches its most ravenous fans by way of fan subs; a system where dedicated fans create subtitles for anime episodes a day or two after the episode airs in Japan. This usually is much more efficient than licensing practices in Ameria, where the American distribution company may lag up to several years, and several subtleties in the language or cultural aspects of the shows that fans are informed about get lost in the translation. Even worse, looking at the show One Piece in particular, much of the show may get censored or cut down such that many of the mature themes and deeper characterization may be completely cut out for American marketing reasons. So in light of the Terranova article, I want to ask, what's the economy behind fansubbing? What's interesting to note is that Japanese companies usually have a policy of "tolerating" fansub distribution until an American company officially licenses a show, in which then the company starts cracking down on pirates. Japanese companies then actually profit by having a market that couldn't otherwise exist overseas without riding on the labor of fansubbing "netslaves". With the advent of p2p networks and internet fan communities, Anime is a prime example of both "netslaves" and more oppositional and creative Convergence Culture. Yet in the end I just have to point out that the fansub system is much more liberating, and also more globalizing. It focuses not on re-coding or "culturalizing" a different culture into American terms, but presenting best it can that culture on its own terms (most fansubbers are themselves Japanese), fansubbing happens at a much faster pace than through a commercial company, and I think this matters because Terranova points out that the commodity itself becomes transparent and the labor becomes the thing that is valued. What is valued in the fansub is the speed the labor is done, the accuracy in its translation literally and culturally, the amount of legwork the subber goes through to acquire a high quality digital copy for the sub, etc. And I think that the fansub movement, a pirate movement, falls into the nice camp of "good free labor" like the Open Source and other movements.

So since I missed out on today's discussion, I'll post a few more thoughts to make up for it.

The HBO Vouyer is also incredibly interesting, especially if we view it as a sort of new media Rear Window. I still can't make much heads or tails of all the different narratives going on in the main apartment sequence after about four viewings, perhaps because that's the whole point of it being online, on the internet. It's a networked community where everything ends up affecting each other even if every occupant isn't directly aware of the other, and I find it only fitting that this narrative appears in the context of a computer. The internet, and convergence of computer and TV in general, differs from the old media in being (or at least creating a convincing illusion) of interactivability; you can play and replay, choose the music, and otherwise control this narrative in ways you normally couldn't on the TV. Choosing what is revealed and what is hidden is probably the most revealing way of how this is done, yet it only shows to highlight what can't be controlled. You can't control the events on the screen, or how the divisions of what is or isn't revealed is arranged, or hear anything that happens. The overstimulation of visual input demands multiple replays. Likewise, the internet is a medium in which we have to control its flow (we take as much time as we need watching each YouTube clip or reading each blog post) or else we get overwhelmed with input. Time based-ness almost seems to run against the medium of the browser.

The narrative of the serial killer though is what I really want to talk about. Here, we have 3 kinds of surviellance: the police surveying the killer audially, the killer (invisibly) surveying his victims visibly (or else how can he paint their portraits?), and us surveying the killer visually. The policemen's surviellance differs from the other two in that it belongs only to them; we nor the killer get access to sound, only the police. We instead get a moody techno soundtrack. Okay. I read the policemen as a parallel or stand in to the Patriot Act, the state monitoring or frantic wiretapping occuring in Enemy of the State, a superior state power watching over its citizens. In this case, it's trying to catch the killer/transgressor/terrorist who is aware of his own watchedness, but is also a vouyer, one who takes his vouyerism to the level of art. He paints his victims, the dead (as if their pictures were being taken). Again, the portraits are photographed so those captured by the camera are eventually captured in death. The killers viewing back at us at the end could be read as the possible resistence we can have at the surviellance that monitors us, hoping to catch us in the act of murder or crime. Maybe the piece is making the statement that state surviellance will fail in monitoring it's people for we, like the killer, know that our rooms are bugged. But his looking back at us could also signal that we are the police state, the ones looking in on private lives and are policing each other. Maybe he's coming for us next.

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