Masks, cosplay and Batman

 

Welcome to the wonderful world of cosplay!

Today I had to explain what exactly ‘cosplay’ was to a lady who had heard of it but didn’t really understand. For those of you who have also been in this position, know that this isn’t such an easy thing to do. In my case I chose to give the textbook answer of…

“Cosplay is when people dress up as their favourite character from a book, movie or game.”

But as soon as I gave this answer I could see that look cross her face which told me instantly that she’d already dismissed it as simply “adult dress-up” (No! Not THAT kind). Yet if you have ever had any experience with cosplay you’d probably have started to realise that there’s a lot more to cosplay than fancy dress outside of Halloween.

Cosplay allows us to be the person we want to be

Video taken at Comic Gong. (Cue shameless promotion)

For some, cosplay is a way for us to hide who we are and for others it’s a way to step out of their shell and take on a new identity.

In a way, cosplay is a form of a mask or persona. This new sense of identity then creates a community of like minded people.

This persona is not just limited to the convention or festival. Instead there are many people who use their cosplayer identity to

create an online identity and essentially make money.

 

Online persona

When I use the term “online persona” I’m referring to the social identity that someone constructs within online communities. For cosplayers this online persona is an extension of their cosplay identity and is a way for them to connect with communities.

Cosplayers such as GrimmboneZ or Evey Dantes have become media influencers with large numbers of online followers. It’s a life-style that may seem to be too good to be true but often takes a lot of work to maintain.

In the end, cosplay can mean something different for each person yet in undeniably brings people together both online and in the everyday. Is it a mask we hide behind or is it a way for us to become heroes? I’ll leave you to ponder.

Right to repair

apple-1120731_1920

Breaking your phone is arguably a bit of a millennial nightmare. Yet you’d think that getting it fixed wouldn’t be much of an issue.

However if you do end up needing your phone fixed you may find that you are limited as to who you can get it fixed by. Part of the reason why is that independent  repair shops don’t have access to patented service manuals, diagnostic tools and parts.  1p9b72

Right to repair or fair repair?

You may have heard of the phrase “right to repair” being talked about in the media. It’s been brought up again as a few American states are considering whether access to traditionally patented manuals and parts should be made publicly available.

Locked appliances vs. generative platforms

 

In a way this situation is a way for companies to keep complete control over the  media platform and how the we use it. I’m not trying to argue either for or against whether repairing what we own is a right. Instead I’m arguing that the current system which forces customers to go through their phone providers for repairs is an example of a locked appliance system.

Whether or not the this proposed law is passed in the US, the fact remains that the current system used by many phone manufacturers deliberately limits the way in which we as consumers engage with their products.

Why we tell stories

Telling stories is the simplest way to convey an idea, an experience or an emotion. We can’t help but love the brands and companies that tell great stories as they connect with us on a truly human level.

Today we are experiencing an overload of mediums and types of storytelling. With this new diversity it seems only natural that the stories we tell are becoming more interactive and engaging for audiences. This is change is known as Transmedia storytelling.

What is it?

Transmedia is the practice of using multiple platforms to tell a cohesive narrative. It’s a participatory type of storytelling as it not only allows audiences to directly engage with the content but choose how they engage.

It’s a dramatic move away from how we’ve historically told stories. Audiences no longer have to absorb stories passively and in a linear fashion.

Here’s an example
Let me introduce you to the YouTube Series, The Lizzie Bennett Diaries.

It’s an adaption of Pride and Prejudice that utilised a range of different media to tell an engaging story. The video series wasn’t the only part of the content. Characters on the series kept active twitterFacebook and Tumblr accounts throughout the series that fans could engage directly with. This made the story an interactive experience for viewers.

So what does it all mean… really?

Transmedia storytelling is the ultimate way of selling you something. This is because it not only creates engaging content that the audience wants to take part in but allows audiences to access the product from a variety of entry points.

I’ll leave you with this for food for thought…

 

 

Copyright & Fan Fiction

 

It’s never been simpler to get published. Today, all it takes to publish your next manuscript with minimum effort or cost. This is of course thanks to the internet. Yet although the number of books being published has dramatically increased, at the same time books sales are decreasing.

Then there’s online social platforms such as Wattpad and FanFiction that have made it even simpler for consumers to step into the creation of content and develop their own content.  In many cases, this new content ignores copyright laws, by reusing and remixing well-loved characters, ideas and even entire plot points to create something new.

1o5nso

What’s interesting about the people who chose to write and publish fan fiction is that  they are often very aware that they are breaching copyright laws. So to get around this issue many writers will choose to use a disclaimer to clearly state that their work is one of fan fiction and is not attempting to make a profit.

It’s an interesting situation, as for many fan fiction writers they will never see any financial return for the hours of work they put in. Even when fan fiction is done for no profit there are still authors such as Anne Rice or Laurell K. Hamilton who adamantly oppose all forms of fan fiction and will sue any writers who use their work.

 

Read/write/edit/share

It’s been said that we are living in the time of the remix. Take the Top Grossing Movies of 2016 – 14 out of the top 20 movies were either remakes, adaptions or sequels.

Untitled design

Source

And this tendency to remix is nothing new. Even Shakespeare was known to copy speeches, themes and entire plot points from other writers in his plays. Which brings to mind M.C. Escher quote, originality is merely an illusion. 

What we’re seeing today is the movement of audiences from a read-only culture to a read-write culture. This is largely thanks to technology, in particular the internet, which has allowed audiences to step directly into the production process and contribute in ways that were once only possible to a select few.

This has resulted a wealth of audience created content of varying quality.  My own Spongebob inspired gif, is just one of many examples of this growing culture. Although some a lot of the content generated online is a little terrifying ‘interesting’, I still think it’s awesome that we, the audience, have the power to access what we want, when we want it and if we can’t find it, create content ourselves.

I’ll leave you with this gem by TrapMusicHDTV

 

Memeception

According to my 16 year-old sister, memes are nothing much more than “just random quotes and different pictures, the stupid things people say.  They’re everywhere.”

And to some degree she is right. On the surface at least memes are just that, a (stolen) image paired with a short message that is amusing for a second or two. At least until you read the next one.

Memes, are examples of appropriation. Yet there’s more to memes than meets the eye.

1mw3w0

“Memes spread through human culture like genes spread through the gene pool.” – Richard Dawkins

They do this by spreading through and changing culture by framing human experiences in ways that can be shared and easily understood.

Memes have emerged thanks to the internet and the result of content no longer residing wholly to legacy media.

We are in a time when the once silent audience can now step into the creative process to transform ideas and create new ones. Yet we are only beginning to recognise this change for what it is.

I’ll leave you with these (somewhat) wise words.

Audience 2.0

 

For many, this is what we think of when we hear the word audience.  A silent crowd absorbing the message with rapt attention. Yet with the development of new technologies and industry practices –  most of which are here thanks to the web – we are seeing the emergence of a new type of audience.

Producer + USER = PRODUSER

TECHNOLOGY

This is all to do with Henry Jenkins there convergence. If you need a definition for convergence visit my previous blog post here.

Part of this theory discusses the transition that audience are making from a passive roll to an active roll.

We not only want immediate access to entertainment but can go anywhere to find it and if it doesn’t exist, create it ourselves.

What does this audience look like?

One of the things that people tentatively admit to liking is fan fiction, partially for it’s reputation as low-key mummy porn. And it’s true there are many weird and wonderful things that have come out of fan fiction sites (see my video below if you’re feeling curious). Yet I still think it’s kind of awesome as this has become a genre of fiction that is created by fans for fans.

In this case, content no longer resides only in the hands of the original creators and it is this that has allowed for a diverse amount of user-generated content to spread rapidly.