Wednesday, October 10, 2007


Jenkins ends his article with the question of how much influence consumer-generated content will have on mass media companies. He believes the answer to this question lies in how seriously we take the rhetoric about enfranchising as a means of empowering consumers and ensuring brand loyalty. Jenkins writes that ultimately, the mass media companies are going to have to learn to distinguish between the gift economy of the internet (with its creative repurposing) and for-profit use (and pirating, etc.). Doing this, he believes, will give them the legitimacy they need to “reign in” on the piracy that threatens their livelihood. Given that, earlier in the article, he somewhat romanticizes folk culture and the creative production it fosters, I feel this is an unsatisfying end to his argument. He seems to be admitting that in the end, the only way to resolve the conflict between fans and corporations is through a “reappropriation” of a site of reception that networks cannot currently control. Although he encourages collaboration, my question is to what extent do we believe that collaboration is truly possible? He implies that in the end, the “best” fan/consumer-generated content becomes a part of the mass media franchise itself, as in his examples of various consumer-filmmakers who ended up being financed by corporations to work for them. To what extent do we believe fans truly can gain power in Jenkins’ model in which the “best” fans become a part of the media conglomerates themselves? It seems to me that within his paradigm, control will always end up in the hands of the media companies. If there is value in simply producing without a thought to an end goal, then why does Jenkins suggest that media companies must tolerate and make concessions to fans, but only in order to gain more control over their intellectual property?

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