of piracy and exclusive visual albums.

   The current music industry is dealing with issues never seen before which have the potential of causing significant economic harm to producers and artists. This is due to the increasing accessibility of the internet and the digitisation of media content, as sharing files peer-to-peer for free becomes normality, encouraging the consumption of unofficially distributed content (Jewitt, and Yar). Therefore, the industry has found new strategies to protect their profit, creating innovative content people would be willing to pay for, one of which is the visual album.

GtRfQ4d   The visual album is not completely a “new” concept, drawing from the idea of music stars proceeding to star into movies or having their own “musical” films produced altogether (Hornaday), which has become possible thanks to the same media convergence that jeopardized the music industry, as it is the meeting point of music and cinematography. Borrowing from different medias and genres, visual albums also allow for the creation of deeper narratives, often relating to the artist’s persona, possible because of the singers having more control over the production. This clearly noticeable in Beyoncé’s “Lemonade” and Frank Ocean’s “Endless”, as both singers are producers, Ocean also directed, and Beyoncé co-directed the whole album and directed “7/11” by herself (Ehrlich).

beyonce-hold-up-videogiphy.gif

rs_1024x512-160425131638-Beyonce-yellow

 

 

 

 

    The release of these two visual albums has followed the same pattern, allowing fans to purchase them for full price only on specific platforms (Tidal first and then Apple Music for “Lemonade” and just Apple Music for “Endless”). While Beyoncé’s exclusive release did propel Tidal’s downloads in the AppStore into the top charts, it is also arguable that the decision of not making the album available on other – legal – streaming platforms (i.e. Spotify, Pandora…) might have actually backlashed, with the album quickly becoming one of the most pirated items, following the sort of Kanye West’s “The Life of Pablo”, illegally downloaded around 500,000 times on the release date (Turner).

    In conclusion, while the idea of the visual album is innovative and supplies to the new way in which music is consumed online and update the music industry to the contemporary convergence of media culture, its success in preserving the artists’ revenue and rights is questionable, due to the circumstances in which the major pop-stars are approaching their diffusion.

Bibliography:

 

.

of authorship at the time of youtube and netflix.

    The Internet grants access to a wider cinema experience on a range of multimedia platforms (Jullier, and Leveratto) through more or less legal streaming services, from Netflix to pirate websites accessible on a variety of differently sized screens (Hudson, and Zimmermann). This is possible because of the increasing convergence of different media industries collaborating in a capitalist effort to provide different platforms to skip between in search of entertainment (Jenkins).
Thanks to the medium’s interactivity, consumers – or viewers – are developing to become producers themselves, putting cinematic authorship “at risk”.

    A practical example of dispersion of authorship due to media convergence is Tarantino’s “The Hateful Eight”. Due to the new platforms on which spectators are able to experience film, they can exert more control over it. Therefore, the 12-minutes narrative gap – enforced by an interval in the cinema – is lost in the moment in which the spectator can choose to skip ahead and continue with the film (Dix), erasing the auteur’s stylistic choice altogether. Or, as suggested by Tarantino himself, the lack of commitment to a film watched on a streaming platform might even induce you to stop watching altogether. It’s not about access, rather about time and will to consume the media we have access to (Jullier, and Leveratto).
However, a more active example of participatory culture in film is that of collaborative remixing –  from media piracy – a form of authorship rejection which allows viewers to manipulate cinematic material in order to draw attention to political issues (Hudson, and Zimmermann) or just to produce new forms of entertainment.

In conclusion, while media convergence in relation to cinema authorship might initially pass off as negative, it is also necessary to consider its positive aspects. First of all, on an economical perspective, the internet and cell-phones are now fundamental contributions to the “cinema machine”, helping to incentive the consumption of films, but they are also essential to the empowerment of viewers, as they give everyone the opportunity with a smartphone in their pocket to become a film-maker (Odin). Also, the new medias are contributing to the development of a new form of cinephilia, less focused on the auteur, but rather on the process of media production, consumption and personal reinterpretation (Hudson, and Zimmermann).

 

 

Bibliography:

  • Dix, AndrewBeginning Film Studies. Manchester Univ. Press [U.A.], 2010, pp. 131-153.
  • “THE ORIGINAL Scary ‘Mary Poppins’ Recut Trailer”. Youtube, 2006, https://www.youtube.com/watch?time_continue=2&v=2T5_0AGdFic. Accessed 16 Apr 2018.
  • Jenkins, HenryConvergence Culture: Where Old And New Media Collide.. New York University Press, 2006, pp. 1-25.
  • Jullier, Laurent, and Jean-Marc Leveratto. “Cinephilia In The Digital Age”. Audiences, Ian Christie, Amsterdam University Press, Amsterdam, 2012, pp. 142-154, Accessed 16 Apr 2018.
  • Odin, Roger. “Spectator, Film and the Mobile Phone”. Audiences, Ian Christie, Amsterdam University Press, Amsterdam, 2012, pp. 155-169, Accessed 16 Apr 2018.
  • “Quentin Tarantino Talks Netflix And Why He Doesn’t Like It”. Youtube, 2018, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=P-nw2gdHLHU. Accessed 16 Apr 2018.

of media protest and #metoo.

 

        The role of online media in progressive political and social protest is now more relevant than ever, however, it continues to be underestimated in terms of how much it actually has contributed to shaping contemporary society. Social-media has become the go-to for organizing protests due to its ability of communicating fast and cheaply to a large number of people (Dencik, and Leistert). Also, the internet allows to marginalised minorities a better opportunity of being heard, despite the virtual sphere mirroring real world dynamics that see the bourgeoisie dominating its hierarchy (Papacharissi).

Tarana Burke (funder of “Me Too”) on the aims of her campaign.

        An example of a form of a successful social media protest that gained a lot of attention both on and offline is that of the Tarana Burke’s “Me Too” movement. Born in 2006 with the aim of supporting victims of sexual violence, it suddenly gained global attention after their hashtag went viral on Twitter in October of 2017, following the Weinstein sexual assault scandal (Fox, and Diehm).
The campaign was based on the use of transformative empathy to fight oppression, promoting self-reflection and listening in order to avoid a passively emphatic engagement by the public, which would have compromised the creation of an emotional connection between the victims and their testimonies, and the online readers (Rodino-Colocino). In this way, it was also possible to create a stronger sense of shared experience between survivors, diminishing the stigma around the issue and therefore empowering them while exposing a serious systematic societal issue of inequality present across the globe.
An important aspect of this protest was that it was not limited to online action, but inspired people to march to show support for victims of sexual abuse across the world and protest.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

        In conclusion, it is important to take into account how influential social protests born online can become, and that they have the potential to become significant offline phenomenon as well, in attempt to challenge norms and laws considered unfair. However, it is also important to take into account how “hashtag activism” is defined by the ephemerality of the same social media that allow for its development (Bonilla, and Rosa) and that civil engagement with online campaigns does not always necessarily translate into real-life action (Papacharissi).

Bibliography:

  • Bonilla, Yarimar, and Jonathan Rosa. “#Ferguson: Digital Protest, Hashtag Ethnography, And The Racial Politics Of Social Media In The United States”. American Ethnologist, vol 42, no. 1, 2015, pp. 4-17. Wiley-Blackwell, doi:10.1111/amet.12112. Accessed 15 Apr 2018.
  • Dencik, Lina, and Oliver Leistert. Critical Perspectives On Social Media And Protest. Rowman & Littlefield International, 2015, pp. 1-12.
  • Fox, Kara, and Jan Diehm. “#Metoo’s Global Moment: The Anatomy Of A Viral Campaign”. CNN, 2017, https://edition.cnn.com/2017/11/09/world/metoo-hashtag-global-movement/index.html. Accessed 15 Apr 2018.
  • Papacharissi, Zizi.The Virtual Sphere“. New Media & Society, vol 4, no. 1, 2002, pp. 9-27. SAGE Publications, doi:10.1177/14614440222226244. Accessed 15 Apr 2018.
  • Rodino-Colocino, Michelle. “Me Too, #Metoo: Countering Cruelty With Empathy“. Communication And Critical/Cultural Studies, vol 15, no. 1, 2018, pp. 96-100. Informa UK Limited, doi:10.1080/14791420.2018.1435083. Accessed 15 Apr 2018.

 

of fake news and gender.

     The “gender” scare has been haunting Italy since 2014, after the publication of a booklet explaining the European Standardized (not solely heterosexual) sex education program the OMS wanted to introduce in schools.
Its content was distorted by right-wing and Catholic organizations aiming to delegitimize it (Selmi), as they claimed it favoured the “gay lobby” (Amato) and indoctrinated children, normalizing “deviant” behaviours such as homosexuality, permeating society of the “ideology of gender” (Novella De Luca).

family-day-teoria-gender-giugno-2015-roma-333-body-image-1434925256.jpgfamily-day-teoria-gender-giugno-2015-roma-333-body-image-1434928248.jpg
“Let’s defend our children.”
Family Day, Rome.

     These “antigender” organizations earned significant following, with 300,000 protestors present at the “Family Day” in June 2015 (Martini). They asserted to be acting in the interest of children, fighting for their right to grow up in a “traditional” family (mother, father and children) (La Manif Por Tous ITALIA), however through online campaigning and manifestations, they fueled the diffusion of fake-news, transforming the proposal of making sex education compulsory into a political and ethical matter concerning the whole country, mostly with the aim of contesting and stopping the pro-civil unions and same-sex couples adoption laws (Novella De Luca).

     The deliberate use of the English word “gender” rather than its Italian translation made the discussion less accessible to uneducated public, allowing to distort its meaning and spread fake-news about it more easily. It also drew the interest of the conservatives as it connected with the idea of U.S. cultural imperialism they oppose.
The language used included sensationalistic terms to spread disinformation regarding the sex education program, extrapolating words such as “precocious masturbation” and omitting further explanation, insinuating the OMS planned to teach 4 y.o. about masturbation.

giphy.gifgiphy (1).gif

LMPT Understanding “Gender” in less than 3 minutes

     In MANIF’s video “explaining” what “gender ideology” it’s noticeable how the issue is over-simplified and approached in a shallow manner, asserting that adhering “gender” means erasing masculinity and femininity as wholes. It is also mentioned that “school will teach boys they can wear dresses and lipstick” and “girls can drive a truck”, “mixing between feminine and masculine” and therefore causing children to question their sexual identity, accusing “ideology of gender” of putting culture aside to teach children harmful concepts.

     Today the “gender ideology” subject is still exploited in politics to create a divide of public opinion based on misinformation, as most people still ignore the term “gender ideology” itself was invented by the Vatican in the mid 90s to label and demean any intervention subversive of the “natural” sexual order (Garbagnoli). I found this case study interesting as it exposes a less known European example of fake-news, shows how convincing and resilient it can become despite being easily fact-checked.

Bibliography:

(All Italian sources referenced have been translated to English by the author of this essay).