TROPING ALONG WITH MY MEME

What is being developed is a new  alternative model for exchanging cultural products. There’s a whole other economy at work, traditionally in art and craft, now on the web in which people give to each other for socially motivated reasons rather than commercial. If I tell my social network friends about your brand, it’s not because I like your brand, but rather because I like my friends. I want to share something with them, in exchange for their attention and affection. And I want to say something to them about what we have in common or how I’m different….

“The reason that clichés become clichés is that they are the hammers and screwdrivers in the toolbox of communication.”
—Terry Pratchett, Guards! Guards!

“One does not necessarily have to cluck in disapproval to admit that entertainment is all the things its detractors say it is: fun, effortless, sensational, mindless, formulaic, predictable and subversive. In fact, one might argue that those are the very reasons so many people love it.”
—Neal Gabler, Life the Movie: How Entertainment Conquered Reality

Arauz:Spreadable media is created with an understanding of the communities of people to be courted. Spreadable media is created so that members of those communities can easily find it. And when members of a community share it, they can use spreadable media to spot other members of their community based on their reactions. Spreadable media is a term coined by Henry Jenkins and his research colleagues at the Comparative Media Studies program at MIT. Spreadable media puts people’s motivations at the forefront of its creation. Read more: http://whatconsumesme.com/2009/posts-ive-written

It should be noted that the interactive audience is not autonomous, still operating alongside powerful media industries. If the current media environment makes visible the once invisible work of media spectatorship, it is wrong to assume that we are somehow being liberated through improved media technologies. Rather than talking about interactive technologies, we should document the interactions that occur amongst media consumers, between media consumers and media texts, and between media consumers and media producers. The new participatory culture is taking shape at the intersection between three trends:

"The image with the phrase is a joke in itself, but it also contains a structural meaning of an ironic situation that appears to be correct from another (albeit incorrect) perspective. Explanation: in the above picture, the soldier is fighting with a weapon and holding it like a bow, but it is obviously a gun."

(1) new tools and technologies enable consumers to archive, annotate, appropriate, and recirculate media content
(2) a range of subcultures promote Do-It-Yourself (DIY) media production, a discourse that shapes how consumers have deployed those technologies
(3) economic trends favoring the horizontally integrated media conglomerates encourage the flow of images, ideas, and narratives across multiple media channels and demand more active modes of spectatorship.

"A spreadable model emphasizes the activity of consumers - or what Grant McCracken calls "multipliers" - in shaping the circulation of media content, often expanding potential meanings and opening up brands to unanticipated new markets. Rather than emphasizing the direct replication of "memes", a spreadable model assumes that the repurposing and transformation of media content adds value, allowing media content to be localized to diverse contexts of use. This notion of spreadability is intended as a contrast to older models of stickiness which emphasize centralized control over distribution and attempts to maintain 'purity' of message. Link: http://www.masternewmedia.org/viral-marketing

These trends have altered the way media consumers relate to each other, to media texts, and to media producers. It would be naive to assume that powerful conglomerates will not protect their own interests as they enter this new media marketplace, but at the same time, audiences are gaining greater power and autonomy as they enter into the new knowledge culture. The interactive audience is more than a marketing concept and less than “semiotic democracy.”

…Tropes are just tools. Writers understand tropes and use them to control audience expectations either by using them straight or by subverting them, to convey things to the audience quickly without saying them.

Human beings are natural pattern seekers and story tellers. We use stories to convey truths, examine ideas, speculate on the future and discuss consequences. To do this, we must have a basis for our discussion, a new language to show us what we are looking at today. So our storytellers use tropes to let us kno

at things about reality we should put aside and what parts of fiction we should take up.

Romy Ribitzky:Can your brand get more than 13 million page views on YouTube and add more than 43,000 followers on Twitter seemingly overnight? If your brand was Old Spice, it could. The men’s grooming-products maker is making a viral splash on YouTube with a 48-hour campaign featuring perma-shirtless Old Spice Guy Isaiah Mustafa, responding to tweets in real time and posting YouTube video responses to questions coming in via Facebook and other social-media sites—even popping the question from one user to his girlfriend. Read more: http://www.portfolio.com/views

Just as Tropes Are Not Bad, neither are memes -per se. True, they get old by the 9001st time they’re played, but there’s a reason they get played a thousand times and more. Who hasn’t ever had some lulz with them?

There’s the fanbase that has been ever since the beginning of the show, and there’s the second wave that watches the show/plays the game/reads the book after exposure to the meme. It’s not (most of the times) Viral Marketing, since it’s fans rather than marketroids behind them. Think What’s uuuup! vs All Your Base Are Belong To Us. This is right before people endlessly repeating them makes it annoying and, ironically, may make you want to avoid it as much as possible.

“The concept of spreadable media rests on the distinction between distribution (the top-down spread of media content as captured in the broadcast paradigm) and circulation (a hybrid system where content spreads as a result of a series of informal transactions between commercial and noncommercial participants.) Spreadable media is media which travels across media platforms at least in part because the people take it in their own hands and share it with their social networks.

This kind of informal circulation may be solicited or at least accepted by media producers as part of the normal way of doing business or it may take forms which get labeled piracy. Either way, the widespread circulation of media content through the conscious actions of dispersed networks of consumer/participants tends to create greater visibility and awareness as the content travels in unpredicted directions and encounters people who are potentially interested in further engagements with the people who produced it.”

“Brands and marketers often pay lip service to the idea of co-authorship with consumers, but rarely do they see this collaboration, both between brand and consumer and among groups of consumers, as an integral component of the spreading of their brand message. Once you do accept this reality, you are forced to answer this question for every idea and experience you create: Why would anyone share this with anyone else? This may seem like an obvious question, yet it’s amazing how often it goes unasked or unanswered.”( Mike Arauz)

ADDENDUM:
The idea of memes and spoofs has been around for a long time: After Abbot and Costello, the spoof genre lay dormant without poster boys for decades. But come the swingin’ ’60s, Woody Allen brought it back in the biggest, broadest way possible. His 1965 “directorial” debut, What’s Up, Tiger Lily?, is actually a re-dubbing of a ridiculous Japanese spy thriller called International Secret Police: Key of Keys. The new dialogue, written by Allen and a troupe of six other comedians, turns Key of Keys into an espionage story about a secret egg salad recipe.

Allen would re-enter the world of spy spoofs with 1967′s Casino Royale, a total comedic reworking of the James Bond story. Following that, Allen made a minor final spoofing effort in Play it Again, Sam, a parody of Casablanca set in contemporary San Francisco. Afterwards, he came into his own as a writer/director/actor, though he did experiment with self-parody in a string of late 90s/early 2000s movies.

"By applying the meme to the protest image above, the author gives value to the You're Doing It Wrong structure. And our understanding of the image is mediated by the meme: while the protesters believe that they are correct, the author illustrates a particular political statement against their beliefs. Now, while the subcultural joke is still present, the meme provides another way of approaching the picture's context. Perhaps not for people outside of the subculture (although this particular instance is fairly easy to understand)."

Read More:

http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/Main/TropesAreTools?from=Main.TropesAreNotBad

http://www.niemanlab.org/2010/11/why-spreadable-doesnt-equal-viral-a-conversation-with-henry-jenkins/

http://www.mikearauz.com/2009/03/thoughts-on-spreadable-media-parts-3.html

"One trend in particular is the meme's in the form of running jokes, through images - on the internet. A particular feature of these is the need for them to be completely politically incorrect. Whether this is a sign of increased discrimination, racism, lack of tolerance - or simply a "We don't care" statement I am not so sure, though I lean towards the latter. Either way it shows a new area where the layman can tell stories (and in this case jokes) through a visual medium. No need to be a great artist, or even a master of cameras or Photoshop. In many cases all that is needed, is helping the spread and recycling of these images - ensuring their place on different forums, boards and websites. "

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