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Storyselling and Storykilling: Affirmational/Transformational Discourses of Television Narrative

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Abstract

Storytelling in the digital age has undoubtedly become a significant topic of academic debate. What has been dubbed ‘transmedia storytelling’ involves the extension of franchises’ hyperdiegetic worlds across media.1 But such extensions have not only traversed media, they have also moved across and between what can be understood as production discourse and fan discourse, with producers aiming to reward loyal fans via niche transmedia paratexts, even while such fan-oriented strategies have often remained subtextual or absent in the primary television text.2 And while the rise of ‘viewer-created paratexts’ has perhaps promised a democratisation of media-related meaning-making, such promise has been far from borne out.3 As Elizabeth Minkel puts it, writing for the New Statesman’s website: ‘However fluid … once-impermeable fan-creator barriers may appear, television is not actually a democracy.’4

Keywords

  • Discursive Practice
  • Style Identity
  • Production Discourse
  • Television Text
  • Narrative Discourse

These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.

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Notes

  1. See Henry Jenkins, Convergence Culture (New York: New York University Press, 2006).

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  2. On this process, see Matt Hills, ‘Torchwood’s Trans-Transmedia: Media tie-ins Note and Brand “Fanagement”’, Participations 9, no. 2 (2012), 409–428.

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  3. Jonathan Gray, Show Sold Separately (New York: New York University Press, 2010), 143;

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  4. Matt Hills, ‘Fiske’s “Textual Productivity” and Digital Fandom: Web 2.0 Democratization Versus Fan Distinction?’, Participations 10, no. 1 (2013), 130–153.

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  5. Robin Nelson, TV Drama in Transition (Basingstoke: Macmillan, 1997), 24.

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  6. Ibid., 31; Jason Mittell, ‘Serial Orientations: Paratexts and Contemporary Complex Television’, in (Dis)Orienting Media and Narrative Mazes, eds. Julia Eckel, Bernd Leiendecker, Daniela Olek and Christine Piepiorka (Bielefeld: Transcript Verlag, 2013), 165.

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  7. Jason Mittell, Genre and Television (New York: Routledge, 2004); Mittell, ‘Narrative Complexity’, 38.

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  8. Ashley D. Polasek, ‘Winning “The Grand Game”: Sherlock and the Fragmentation of Fan Discourse’, in Sherlock and Transmedia Fandom, eds. Louisa Ellen Stein and Kristina Busse (Jefferson: McFarland, 2012), 53;

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  9. Roberta Pearson, ‘“Good Old Index”; or, The Mystery of the Infinite Archive’, in Sherlock and Transmedia Fandom, eds. Louisa Ellen Stein and Kristina Busse (Jefferson: McFarland, 2012), 155.

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  10. Paul Booth, Digital Fandom (New York: Peter Lang, 2010), 104–105.

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  11. Seymour Chatman, Story and Discourse: Narrative Structure in Fiction and Film (Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 1978), 53–54 quoted in Booth, Digital Fandom, 91.

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  12. Paul Rixon, TV Critics and Popular Culture: A History of British Television Criticism (London: I.B. Tauris, 2011), 228;

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  13. Lynnette Porter, The Doctor Who Franchise: American Influence, Fan Culture and the Spinoffs (Jefferson: McFarland, 2012), 143.

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  14. See, for example, Charlie Brooker, Dawn of the Dumb (London: Faber and Faber, 2007), 234–236 and 244 [these were originally reviews published in The Guardian newspaper in 2006].

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  15. Tabloid responses appear, as far as I can tell, to be consistent with my findings. For example, Stephen James Walker’s compilation of ‘Press Reaction’ to Torchwood series one and two includes quotations from just The Metro and The Mirror in terms of tabloid responses. Of these two titles, The Mirror is highly celebratory of Torchwood at the show’s very beginning, but by the time Jim Shelley reviews episode 1:6 his tone echoes the mocking of Charlie Brooker’s earlier Guardian journalism. See Jim Shelley quoted in Stephen James Walker, Inside the Hub (Tolworth: Telos Publishing, 2007), 152.

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  16. Benjamin Poore, ‘Fighting Paper Dragons? The Emergence of Political Ideology in Sherlock Series 3’ (paper presented at the New Directions in Sherlock Symposium, UCL, 11 April 2014).

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  17. BBC Press Office, ‘Captain Jack to get his own Series in new Russell T Davies Drama for BBC THREE’, 17 October 2005, http://www.bbc.co.uk/pressoffice/pressreleases/stories/2005/10_october/17/torch.shtml.

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  18. Charlie Brooker, ‘Screen Burn’, 28 October 2006, http://www.theguardian.com/media/2006/oct/28/tvandradio.broadcasting.

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  19. Charlie Brooker, ‘Screen Burn’, 16 December 2006, http://www.theguardian.com/media/2006/dec/16/tvandradio.broadcasting.

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  20. On the representation of bisexuality in Torchwood, see Christopher Pullen, ‘“Love the Coat”: Bisexuality, the Female Gaze and the Romance of Sexual Politics’, in Illuminating Torchwood, ed. Andrew Ireland (Jefferson: McFarland, 2010), 135–152.

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  22. Michel Foucault, ‘What Is an Author?’, in The Foucault Reader, ed. Paul Rabinow (New York: Pantheon Books, 1984), 101–120;

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  23. see also Craig Haslop, ‘The Shape-Shifter: Fluid Sexuality as Part of Torchwood’s Changing Generic Matrix and “Cult” Status’, in Torchwood Declassified, ed. Rebecca Williams (London: I.B. Tauris, 2013), 209–225;

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  24. Brooker, ‘Screen Burn’, 28 October 2006.

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  25. See Matt Hills, ‘BBC Wales’ Torchwood as TV I, II and III: Changes in Television Horror’, Cinephile 6, no. 2 (Fall 2010), 23–29.

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  26. On Children of Earth’s critical acclaim, see Lynnette Porter, Tarnished Heroes, Charming Villains and Modern Monsters (Jefferson: McFarland, 2010), 239.

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  27. For more on this struggle between production and fan discourse, including attempted self-policing and factionalism within Torchwood fandom, see Matt Hills, ‘“Proper Distance” in the Ethical Positioning of Scholar-Fandoms: Between Academics’ and Fans’ Moral Economies?’, in Fan Culture: Theory/Practice, eds. Katherine Larsen and Lynn Zubernis (Newcastle upon Tyne: Cambridge Scholars, 2012), 28–32.

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  28. Norman Fairclough, Analysing Discourse: Textual Analysis for Social Research (London: Routledge, 2003), 46.

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  29. Benjamin W.L. Derhy, ‘Cult Yet? The “Miracle” of Internationalization’, in Torchwood Declassified, ed. Rebecca Williams (London: I.B. Tauris, 2013), 56.

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  30. Rick Altman, Film/Genre (London: BFI Publishing, 1999), 122.

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  31. Hills, ‘Torchwood Miracle Day, Episode Six’; Lars Ole Sauerberg, Secret Agents in Fiction (New York: St Martin’s Press, 1984), 83.

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  32. Paul Rixon, ‘Sherlock: Critical Reception by the Media’, in Sherlock and Transmedia Fandom, eds. Louisa Ellen Stein and Kristina Busse (Jefferson: McFarland, 2012), 167.

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  33. See Caitlin Moran, Moranthology (London: Ebury Press, 2012), 91–93.

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  34. A criticism which is implicitly acknowledged and countered by Steven Moffat in Guy Adams, Sherlock: The Casebook (London: BBC Books, 2012), 3.

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  35. Mark Gatiss, in ‘Fans, Villains and Speculations’, Extra Feature on Sherlock: Series Three, Region 2 DVD/Blu-ray Release (BBC Worldwide, 2014).

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  36. Matt Hills, ‘Sherlock’s Epistemological Economy and the Value of “Fan” Knowledge: How Producer-Fans Play the (Great) Game of Fandom’, in Sherlock and Transmedia Fandom, eds. Louisa Ellen Stein and Kristina Busse (Jefferson: McFarland, 2012), 27–40.

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  37. BBC Media Centre, ‘Sherlock Returns to BBC One: Interview with Steven Moffat and Mark Gatiss’, 19 December 2013, http://www.bbc.co.uk/mediacentre/mediapacks/sherlock3/moffat-gatiss.html.

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  38. Geert Lovink, Networks Without a Cause (Cambridge: Polity, 2011), 50–62.

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  39. Eli Pariser, The Filter Bubble: What the Internet Is Hiding from You (London: Penguin, 2012).

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  40. Michael Z. Newman and Elana Levine, Legitimating Television: Media Convergence and Cultural Status (New York: Routledge, 2012), 2.

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© 2015 Matt Hills

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Hills, M. (2015). Storyselling and Storykilling: Affirmational/Transformational Discourses of Television Narrative. In: Pearson, R., Smith, A.N. (eds) Storytelling in the Media Convergence Age. Palgrave Macmillan, London. https://doi.org/10.1057/9781137388155_9

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